I’ve never seen so many Nazi flags, not even on the History Channel.
No, I don’t mean at the alt-right/old fascist whatev rally in Virginia. I mean in the social media posts by people objecting to that rally.
It brings up a persistent question. Do we do better by making active shows of resistance to shut down a crazy movement, or do we disempower it by depriving it of publicity? I think there are examples and arguments to support both positions, and I’m not going to be so vain as to assert one or the other as universally useful. It is an important question and one that deserves constant asking if great evils are to be headed off.
It is easy to condemn some “bad guys,” especially when our cultural virtue signalling declares open season on them. You can concoct international neo-fascist villains in movies about terrorism and that won’t cause the uproar you get with an Islamic terrorist as the antagonist. When it came to executing White male mass murderer Timothy McVeigh, the usually vocal anti-death penalty crowd went pretty much mum. We have a natural inclination – which you can blame on sin, biology, social psychology or (d) all of the above – to identify and chase away a threatening “out group.” That’s not a solution, because we’ve been doing it forever and the same problems persist.
Praying about it and seeking wisdom in the Scriptures of my faith, I was given memory of Jude 1:23,
Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives. (NLT)
It isn’t loving to let others, up to and including the hateful and oppressive, perish in their sin. To resist their bad ideas and actions can be the most loving possible response. It is to attempt to rescue them from ultimate destruction, just as much as it is to protect other people from the harm they might inflict.
But this must be done without being “contaminated” by their evil, that is, by getting sucked into participation in the very thing we claim to protest.
The resistance has to manifest something different. As one observer points out, that wasn’t exactly what happened in Virginia,
We’re watching a tiny microcosm replay of brownshirts vs. reds in Weimar Germany. They’re even carrying the same flags. (11)
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) August 13, 2017
Mutually antagonistic flag waving. Not a call to something better, just a colorful assertion of my superiority to you.
I was at a protest some years ago. Two groups were demonstrating on opposing sides of a foreign policy issue. We were both marching in circles, brandishing our witty placards and bellowing our slogans.
At some point, someone in our circle challenged us to shut up and pray. So we did – we went silent and dropped to our knees on the sidewalk. The other group kept chanting for a few minutes, then fizzled into silence and dispersed.
Again, I’m not saying that this is some universal solution – it might just as well have happened that some nut jumped into his car and ran over us while we prayed.
What I’m saying is that the real resistance is that which manifests something better, even if risky, than the facts on the ground. I really don’t see any substantial difference between alt-right and antifa “demonstrations.” I don’t see substantial difference between alt-right and SJW social media histrionics.
Jesus sets a tall order before us. He calls us to represent a kingdom that is different from any order on earth, in fact, it’s pretty much upside down from what we call normal most of the time.
This kingdom waves a flag, but not a symbolic piece of fabric. The Old Covenant presented it as a new kingdom of peace and justice: the New Testament proclaims it in the person of Jesus, the heir of ancient King David’s line and Son of God, a living signal/banner/flag of peace and justice to the whole world,
A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide by what his ears hear;
but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist,
and faithfulness the belt around his loins.
The wolf shall live with the lamb,
the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze,
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.
They will not hurt or destroy
on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.
On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.
On that day the Lord will extend his hand yet a second time to recover the remnant that is left of his people, from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Ethiopia, from Elam, from Shinar, from Hamath, and from the coastlands of the sea.
He will raise a signal for the nations,
and will assemble the outcasts of Israel,
and gather the dispersed of Judah
from the four corners of the earth.
(Isaiah 11:1-12, NRSV)
So let’s strike our earthly colors, and ask God to unfurl us as that living banner of a better kingdom, even if we must suffer losses in this life to live in it.