Lisa Noël Babbage
Author, Teacher, Philanthropist
Oct. 27, 2018
“One thing all Americans must prescribe to do is walk away from the hateful rhetoric that continues to divide people into hyphenated-groups that have little in common. As Americans, we have to recognize, like Staka apparently did, that being open to discuss differences compassionately is more important that the differences themselves.”
There is no better image to describe what saying lies=truth looks like in America today. As hundreds of black descend by invitation on the White House to hear directly from President Trump, I received a letter from that same office. I do not mind admitting that it moved me, not because it bears the White House seal nor because of the official capacity in which it was delivered. I spent fifteen years teaching elementary school and have received letters from the White House in the past for my class. I have visiting the landmark year after year and am not enamored by its gilded winged eagle. (I have received a letter from Queen Elizabeth by Royal Mail, what is a letter from the White House compared to that?) But the reason it was so moving is the same reason so many traveled to DC this weekend to share a message of a different kind of hope in American leadership.
That hope is based in President Donald J. Trump, of course. I doubt that many believe, because how could they honestly believe when they do not know him intimately, the President Trump is a great moral Christian guy. In fact if you watch the media bashing you might have a tendency to believe Trump is Satan himself. But when you look at his actions, you can’t help but give the benefit of the doubt that he really is a great, moral, Christian guy. Since only a great man would set aside his own pride to take a paycut to serve an ungrateful nation on a downward spiral in his retirement age. Only a great man would take criticism after criticism when they could easily employ an army of yes men to follow him around and white his mouth after serving him lobster.
Only a great man would lower himself for the benefit of others, not his family, but a large group of others he will never meet. Only a great man would subject his family. his reputation, and his prior allegiances to the media monster of public opinion and scrutiny. Only a man truly secure in his own manhood and calling would do that.
Only a moral man would take the high road in admitting moral failure for the sake of transparency. I recall former President Richard Nixon ordering an illegal act against a political rival group, covering up the facts, throwing others under the bus, withhold evidence from the Congress even when the evidence was against him, denying his crookedness to the very end. When President Trump’s moral lewdness was caught on a hot mike, there was no denial. Instead this comment was offered, “This was locker room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago. Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course - not even close. I apologize if anyone was offended.” Even though many are probably offended by the conversation, I cannot imagine what one is expected to do except apologize that the truth offended those who do not want to hear the truth, and do not recognize it when it is heard. In the same conversation, then Candidate Trump admitted his (sexual conquest) failures in the same vein, as if men are the only ones who can come on strong. As if men are the only ones who have tried to coerce sexual activity, and as if Donald Trump is the only person, political or otherwise, who have ever expressed the seedy side of the battle of the sexes. Worse conversations are happening during television’s family hour that what I heard on that hot mic. Yet, all of a sudden, the virgin ears of the American public was grossly offended by the one man that would threaten to put an end the numerous offenses evangelicals face everyday from the same White House.
Trump’s Christianity, perhaps the most difficult to defend since faith is not measured by a scale humans have full knowledge of, can only be weighed by the people of faith that speak into his life. Whenever any organization is attempting to measure faith in an official capacity it is done with a letter of recommendation by an official faith leader, and a personal declaration or pledge are greatest indicators we have. Some offer a questionnaire and mentor-ship as a part of the faith and morality monitoring process. Trump has conceded to all of these recommendations and continues to do so. In fact, this president has taken advice from more faith leaders than any other in history, perhaps because he needs more, or perhaps because he cares more.
Our current President also bears fruit consistent with Christianity. Christianity is a group, or religion, of intrinsically flawed humans attempting to follow God, the God of Abraham. These are people who support the right to religious freedom, free religious speech, life, and the right to protect yourself from evil. These are all biblical mandates that have been upheld by number 45. From using his power to draft an Executive Order (EO) hindering the Johnson Amendment, which threatened the free speech of nonprofits including faith institutions, in effect losing the hands of preachers around the nation to actually preach their convictions. This is a little known ruling most people sitting in churches were not aware of before President Trump acted against it. President Trump also agreed, upon Congress’ passing of a Pain-Capable Bill that would limit abortions to twenty weeks gestation. The first time since Roe v. Wade’s forty-five year old history of silencing the unborn heart, legislation has been supported by the Office of the Presidency. Moving America’s embassy to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is just the icing on the cake for Evangelicals.
Yet people who care more about pigment and skin tone, partially through overt racism and partly through programming, hurl racist monikers against the office even when they profess a faith affiliation commensurate with the actions just described enacted by that same office. Perhaps that is why the #WalkAway movement is so powerful. It is an admonition of faith, since many of those headed to our nation’s capital this weekend are not going because of faith — but for economic and security reasons.
A black voice for the National Rifle Association joins the Black Leadership Summit in DC in support of the Second Amendment and the President’s defense of our borders. In their Facebook live-streaming posts chanted, “I have a job now.” All the while others said “Negros who can’t read support Trump.” The oddity of that latter remark should not be lost on anyone considering there was not a toothless, sagging, unkempt soul among them. The originator of the #WalkAway movement, a gay white male named Brandon Straka and his video, detailing the reasons why he as a former liberal is now choosing to face the truth of the program Democrats are promoting, helped organize the event.
Should the blue party be afraid of those gathered in Washington and the 1.2 million viewer audience Straka has found since the “movement” launched. These numbers are evidence of something, but what? A recent Reddit had comments ranging from #WalkTowards and increased Never Trump rhetoric to honest communication in support of the movement toward more discussion, and less bot-ism of #VoteRedToSaveAmerica2018 and #VoteBlueToEndThisNightmare. There were just as many voices supporting Straka’s courage as there were criticisms of the production quality in the few posts at teh top of the Reddit itself. But there is no denying the fact that this march on Washington has Republicans cheering. When Republicans cheer, Democrats have a tendency to furrow the brow. So maybe Straka_ is_ real and his video contains his real thoughts.
The LGBT community has been, in earnest, skeptical of the GOP for years, which is a real criticism of a party typically synonymous with people of faith. But as pastors and faith leaders have started teaching love, even love to those living ‘alternative’ lifestyles, and as the lifestyle itself steps farther and farther out of the shadows, Evangelicals and hard line Republicans have been forced to deal with a moral challenge that’s been avoided for generations. Since Straka is a gay man, his #WalkAway movement has a little more oomph than another campaign might in this regard. Maybe that’s why conservatives are cheering.
One thing all Americans must prescribe to do is walk away from the hateful rhetoric that continues to divide people into hyphenated-groups that have little in common. As Americans, we have to recognize, like Straka apparently did, that being open to discuss differences compassionately is more important that the differences themselves. Like the movement’s march on DC, sitting at the political table to find out how we as a nation can move forward and heal is important; as important as getting behind the nation’s leader. Moving forward by choosing to love America begins with loving the office of the presidency more than one’s sexual orientation, pigment, ethnicity, or other affiliation. Demanding that every elected official follow the Constitution, a document which protects differences, is the responsibility of every voter. Movements like #WalkAway as well as @ichoose2love encourage courageous conversation and challenge people to read deeper into the threads past all the Russian autospam to find out what the real truth is.