Trump’s Comments: What Matters is Where We Go from Here
So many today are tweeting quotes from Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. So many are still obsessing over President Trump’s reported comment last week. The cynic in me understands many are quoting King not out of any reverence for the American prophet, but as a thumb in the eye to Trump.
The humorist in me laughs that many of the same people shouting we should judge people “not on the color of their skin but on the content of their character” are scorching Trump for promoting merit based immigration.
The Bible student in me notes that God can do amazing things with flawed people.
What did Trump say? We know what’s been reported, what’s been repeatedly repeated, what’s been even projected onto one of his hotels. We know others in the room say it didn’t happen. We know Trump himself admits to using “tough” language.
And we know it has proven hurtful. It has proven fodder for an agenda and narrative that goes back to the day Trump announced.
There is much to take seriously and much to dismiss.
What I Take Seriously
I take Rep. Mia Love’s concerns seriously. She is the child of Haitian immigrants. On Thursday she tweeted,
Here is my statement on the President’s comments today: pic.twitter.com/EdtsFjc2zL
— Rep. Mia Love (@RepMiaLove) January 11, 2018
I take seriously the ire of African countries, and understand why they’d drag our ambassadors in for a slapdown.
I take seriously Paul Ryan’s comment that the reported remarks are “very unfortunate, unhelpful.” In this climate where even hoop rings and Dr. Seuss are considered racist, it makes the road to serious immigration reform more difficult.
I also take seriously that few seem interested in actually answering why immigrants from dysfunctional countries would get preference over those from functional countries.
I take very seriously that this President has a role to play in racial reconciliation; that it won’t be enough to dramatically improve the economic lives and opportunities for those of color, or make their streets safer. It certainly means more than saying, “I am not a racist.”
More on this in a bit.
I Do Not Take Seriously
I do not take Maxine Waters seriously. Her mouth helped burn black and Korean neighborhoods to the ground in the L.A. Riots. The dozens dead in the wake of her racially-charged inciting still await an apology.
I don’t take Hillary Clinton’s comments seriously. After what she did to Haiti, their national motto could be “Me Too.”
I do not take Hollywood seriously. It’s a safe bet these people said the same thing about Van Nuys. It’s the same industry that until the past couple years would rarely bother to nominate people of color.
I do not take seriously the cable news indignation. For one thing, they say what he said was horrible, yet keep repeating it over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. For another, do we need to go back and look at what media figures said about the vast stretches of the U.S. that voted for Trump? Just once I’d like to see the Chris Cuomos and the Don Lemons outraged when Americans or America is trashed.
For that matter, where was the wall-to-wall pontificating when Obama called Libya a “s***show”? A show he helped produce by helping the overthrow of Col. Muammar Gaddafi and, by his own admission, not preparing for the aftermath. So much concern today over the feelings of those in Africa and Haiti. What about the families of the dead or those in Libya being sold into slavery? What about those in Port-a-Prince who do not have a sewer system, yet the Clinton’s, their friends and Hillary’s brother Tony are flush with Haiti plunder?
When I hear the “Trump is a racist” mantra, three things come to mind. I reported on the first last May after I attended the Liberty University graduation. Trump gave the commencement.
Earlier in the program Liberty’s LU Praise gospel group had been set to perform. In fact, they were going to do a number they had performed at the Inaugural. Unfortunately, thanks to a computer glitch, there was no music. Mindful of the President’s tight schedule, the program moved on.
After the President’s speech and events were nearing their end, Liberty President Jerry Falwell, Jr. had a surprise. Trump was insisting LU Praise be given its chance to sing. The joyful, predominately black choir kicked in: “We’ve Come This Far By Faith.” Falwell — and the Secret Service — were in for another surprise. Trump grabbed Falwell, and headed down the steps to join the choir on the field. The President cheered them on as their voices soared through the stadium. When they finished, he offered handshakes and posed for several spontaneous photos.
Sometimes it’s not what you say, it’s what you do.
I have trouble accepting as racist a fellow who would throw off his schedule, that of a university, send the Secret Service into a tizzy, all to honor, respect, sing and selfie with a black choir. Nobody, not even Joy Reid, would have criticized the President had he just left and flown home. Stream founder James Robison often speaks of how every time he’s been with Trump he stops and honors some worker or onlooker most of us would never even notice.
There is one other thing that Trump has done on the down low. To me it suggests he knows he has an issue to wrestle with and needs help tackling it. Mike Hayes is the Founding Pastor of my church, Covenant Church. Covenant is so well-known for its racial harmony that Pastor Hayes was asked to join the President’s faith advisory board specifically to deal with this issue. “You know how to do this.”
He tells of receiving a call at 2 a.m. from the White House. Chief of Staff John Kelly had a request. Could Hayes gather a dozen of the wisest African-American pastors and come and meet with Trump to work on ways to bring about racial reconciliation in America? “We don’t know how to do this.”
As much as one may hope President Trump will lose the New York construction guy potty-mouth, that’s not the crucial thing. Nor even is Democrats attempts to make him into Archie Bunker’s evil twin. What’s crucial is where we are going as a nation. What counts is what Trump does. If Trump is serious about racial reconciliation, is humble enough to continue listening to the likes of Pastor Hayes, Sammy Rodriguez, Bishop Harry Jackson and other men and women of God, and do the gritty work they recommend, our wounds can be healed.
These three vignettes establish a path for the President to follow: Honoring, Listening, Acting. If Trump honors, listens and acts, in ways public and private, small and large, guided by prayer and godly counsel, he can help Dr. King’s dream come alive in our day.
We must pray for the President, and for those giving him counsel. If our prayers our heard, then perhaps the four letter word this administration will be best remembered for is “Love.”
“We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.” MLK