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Is Boston Antifa Real (Twitter)?

This last week I saw some comments on my Facebook feed about some outrageous tweets put out by Boston Antifa, such as this one:

“No room for capitalists, conservatives, libertarians, “Classical liberals” or supporters of the US constitution in our city. #BostonResist

Eventually, I decided to take a look at the Twitter feed myself, and saw all the things I expected to see out of Antifa.  I did a cursory analysis of whether or not it was real or fake, which you have to do with everything you see on the Internet these days.  It passed the cursory scan, so I documented some of it, and yea, I put it onto my own FB.  Then a friend told me it was fake.  I went and took another look.

The source that is telling us that it is fake, is itself posted anonymously.    The case that link is making seems to be pretty decent, all things considered, but then again it also could be disinformation.  The Boston Antifa Twitter feed also says that people are messing with their credibility.  Which anonymous accusation to believe?  Moreover, the source refers to a Facebook and Youtube account, and not the Twitter account.  Some of the tweets seem to be truly helpful to Antifa and their ilk.  Then, there is the problem that most of the posts are indeed indistinguishable from the things you can find the ‘alt-left’ saying.  For example, this video, posted to the same Twitter account, looks entirely legit.  And this one. Given that leftists really believe this stuff, the Boston Antifa twitter feed actually seems relatively tame, in comparison.

However, after I scrolled back through their feed several months, I came across other ‘tweets’ that seemed to suggest that even the owners of the twitter account couldn’t contain themselves.  They couldn’t keep a straight face.  For example, this video I found absolutely hilarious, and yet Boston Antifa retweeted it without comment.  No comment?  You’d fully expect outrage and indignation as they sought to defend their cause; on the other hand, therein lies the problem, if one would expect this, and someone is trying to spoof you, then they’ll be sure to include it.  So, the reasoning has diminishing returns.  Anyway, there are more than one cases where Antifa is subtly or outright mocked, and the Twitter account seems to be, metaphorically speaking, smirking.

At this point, I’m 80% confident is a fake.  A really well done fake, but a fake nonetheless.  If someone has actual, verifiable evidence one way or the other, feel free to provide it.

I turned up another Antifa thing that seems to be fake.  It is “The Antifa Manual.”  Here again, the problem is that you can go line by line in this manual and find undeniably genuine examples of almost everyone of those sentiments expressed by this or that leftist.  This Antifa manual, posted to the same source above (“Its going down”) that asserted the Boston Antifa site was fake, plainly states:  “In the U.S., most activists are anarchist, although a few are Maoist or anti-state Marxists” which comports pretty well with the ‘fake’ manual, and Antifa as observed in the wild.  However, there were some things that jumped out at me as warning flags.  The left corners seem very suspicious to me, as if the surface behind it was digitally generated, just like the coffee stains and the top right corners.  The crinkles seem oddly uniform.  I don’t trust it.

I’m 90% confident this one is a fake, too, but 50% of that is simply the ‘smell’ test.  If anyone has real evidence on this, I’d appreciate that, too.

The basic problem I face is twofold.  First of all, there are obviously violent thugs out there advocating for anarchism, Maoism, or ‘anti-state Marxism.’  There is no question that we see people in masks destroying things and beating people up–and oh, by the way, they consider me the enemy.  They must be organizing somehow.  Second of all, I prefer whenever possible to work based off of primary source material.  The more insight I can gain into their outlook, the better.

One of the most difficult parts about modern society is obtaining accurate information.  That problem is only going to get worse.  Trust nothing, verify everything–if you plan on acting on that information.  And by everything, I mean everything.






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    • Dannyboy on August 21, 2017 at 9:55 am

    Thumbs up!

    • Nathan on August 23, 2017 at 6:04 am

    Hey man. I’m engaging here because I know you are genuine and not a “troll.” I think you might appreciate this. I have been using the language “taking sides with the God of life against the idols of death.” So for me, in the events of Charlottesville, it is pretty clear where we should take sides with the God of life and that is against idols which bring death – idols of whiteness and the protection of racialized privilege. But taking sides with the God of life brings me into a conondrum about what to do with what I judge to be an idol of death. Do the ends justify the means? To that end, I am concerned about phrases like “Be ready” and “keep your powder dry.” Even if not meant literally, or they are not intended to be directed against counter-protesters or Obama supporters, they can be taken quite literally by some. I appreciate your strength and intelligence and commitment to principles worth struggling for.

    • Anthony on August 23, 2017 at 9:07 am

    Hi Nathan, thanks for the comment. Hope this finds you well.

    I’m not sure I am following your argument. I was with you to a point but then you indicated that certain phrases, even if not taken literally, were your concern. So, I will respond to your comment as best as I can, but realize in advance that I am not entirely sure what it is.

    First of all, I think there are two questions raised by my phrases (which, for the confused reader, were on my Facebook page, not here.) First of all, what exactly did I mean by the phrases, and second of all, what is the author’s responsibility for people who take his writing in a way not intended by the author.

    Your apparent answer to that second item seems very dangerous. For example, we could go through your own comment, and take out words and phrases like ‘engaging’ and ‘taking sides’ and ‘bring death’ and “directed against counter-protestors or Obama supporters” or “worth struggling for” and re-assemble them in some mind like this:

    “Nathan told us to be engaging, taking sides, and bringing death, directed against counter protestors or Obama supporters; this is definitely worth struggling for!”

    Surely you would acknowledge that anyone who did this with your comment is not merely at wide variance with the spirit of your comment, but also diametrically opposed to a plain reading of the comment?

    And yet, would you still think that you are responsible for the reader’s bad reading? Surely there comes a point where you allow that the author’s job is done and now the reader must do his?

    The phrase “be ready” seems to be pretty tame to me; I found it in the ESV several times: https://www.esv.org/search/?q=%22be+ready%22

    We might point to the fact that Jesus himself said, “Therefore you also must be ready,”

    Would you be concerned that someone might read this passage and take it as a warrant by Jesus that they are justified in attacking counter-protestors?

    You might say, surely not, because Jesus goes on to put the statement into context: “for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

    But that’s not really the point. You said, “Even if not meant literally… they can be taken quite literally…” implying that you understand from the plain reading of the original text that this interpretation would not be accurate, even as people made it. But you seem to think that Matthew might still have some of the blame…

    Well, I can’t really believe that you think that about Matthew. What baffles me is that you think that about me.

    For the record, I happen to think the unhinging of an author’s actual meaning from the text according to the reader’s whim is exactly one of the things that has made things as bad as they are, across the board. People should not be rebuked for having their comments misinterpreted. People should be rebuked for not having the integrity to interpret correctly.

    The second phrase, “keep your powder dry,” has a tinge to it that “be ready” does not have, but that still doesn’t deprive the reader from his responsibility to interpret the text correctly.

    Does the context support acting violently towards someone else, or not? If not, if someone acts violently, citing the text, I can assure you, it is not the text that inspired the violence (because we just assumed for the discussion, “If not”), but sprung out of their own heart.

    I would be very concerned about a society that came to lay responsibility for actions by one party at the feet of another party, who had nothing to do with the other party’s action, aside from the former party’s admittedly unfounded interpretation of the latter party’s statements or actions. How could such a society survive?

    • Anthony on August 23, 2017 at 9:32 am

    Nathan, you made this comment:

    So for me, in the events of Charlottesville, it is pretty clear where we should take sides with the God of life and that is against idols which bring death – idols of whiteness and the protection of racialized privilege. But taking sides with the God of life brings me into a conondrum about what to do with what I judge to be an idol of death.

    As I understand it, you’re saying that God would want us to oppose ‘idols that bring death’, and you single out ‘whiteness’ and ‘racialized’ privilege, and ponder what we ought to do about such idols.

    But in the Facebook post that brought you here, I led off with this statement:

    “The Nazis killed their 20 million, but the Communists killed their 200 million.”

    One of the most thorough scholars of these questions that I know of has done a counting:


    Germany: 20,946,000 dead. Very bad.

    USSR: 61,911,000 dead.
    China: 10,075,000 followed by another 76,702,000. So, 85 million. Very bad.

    Now you begin adding in the ‘smaller’ atrocities, such as Cambodia, and you come very close to my 200,000,000 mark.

    These are some communist ‘idols’:


    Symbols such as these were used throughout Communism-dom.

    Here is the “fist” proudly displayed on the web page of one of the groups involved on the other side of Charlottesville:


    I find your omission of these “idols which bring death” to be very troubling. You comment refers to the ‘idol’ which you suppose is associated with 20 million dead, but make no reference to the other ‘idol’ that was represented heavily in Charlottesville, which, by the by, killed TEN TIMES more.

    You say, “taking sides with the God of life brings me into a conundrum about what to do with what I judge to be an idol of death.”

    A problem worthy of your attention. But make sure you bring ALL of the ‘idols of death’ into your field of vision, and try to keep them in proportion.

    See #3 on my list of priorities, top right of this page. I wrestle with the same problem. But let’s try to keep it in perspective, and remember just who it is that did the most killing in the last century.

    • Nathan on August 24, 2017 at 7:23 am

    Hey Anthony. It’s not too surprising you had a hard time following my argument. There is a lot of compact thinking and its hard and time consuming to unpack. Not tons of time given everything else we are doing. Thanks for dialoguing a bit. I don’t want to pick up the interpretation of your intention discussion just now. I do think you have understood more or less the thing about the God of life vs. the idols of death. The disagreement is on what is the issue at hand and whose perspective gets priority. Maybe we simply want to talk about different things.
    I think the issue on the table – in the public consciousness – after Charlottesville is white supremacy (admittedly a dangerous fringe element in society). I think what should be on the table is systemic racism (an integral part of our society’s history and present). You want to talk about Antifa. (This is a new group to me.) To me this appears to be almost a non-sequitur to what I was hearing in the public discussion. I understand that you are asserting it should not be. The same goes with the discussion of the death tolls. Hitler’s regime vs. several Communist regimes. At first this appears again to be a non-sequitur, a distraction from the topic at hand, but it might simply be a question of what we want to talk about, which group(s) and which problems do we think deserve priority?
    What I hear you saying is if people are concerned with fringe elements of white supremacy, then we should also be concerned about anti-fascist movements. I am thinking about that. What I would prefer to talk about is systemic racism, white privilege, white trash etc. in relation to politics and power in this country and internationally. I could also talk about fascism and imperialism and how they have become part of this country’s repertoire. Resisting these seems good to me. On the other hand, there is a great danger of becoming exactly like what you resist. What I interpret you to be saying is Antifa appears like the mirror image of KKK groups. Also I think I could carry on a discussion about “meaning and interpretation” and epistemological priority, but I think we are coming from different perspectives on that. I am committed to epistemological priority of poor and marginalized groups.

    • Anthony on August 24, 2017 at 8:21 am

    Hi Nathan,

    I don’t know if you had anything more to add to that. It seemed cut short. I’m going to respond anyway.

    You say, “You want to talk about Antifa” and indicate that this was a new group to you. Why is that, do you think? They’ve been burning city blocks down ever since Trump’s election, and they have a history of similar behavior going back decades. Why is it that you are acutely aware of white supremacy, but not of Antifa? If I were going to have a discussion, it would be about this.

    In fact, I have a post that I’ve been sitting on talking about exactly that sort of question. You won’t like it; you’ll think its about you. But it isn’t. It has been in the works for months. After the Charlottesville thing, I actually postponed posting it, because I didn’t want people to think it was a reaction to that. It’s specifically about what it says about us as a people that we are so easily goaded into national arguments.

    You see, I have a policy of not piling onto “the topic at hand.” I prefer to wait a few days, or a week, or months, or even never. Who decides what is the “topic at hand”? You? The national media? Why should I jump when someone else says “jump!”? I won’t do it. And I think it is very dangerous for people to figure they are obligated to enter into the ‘public’ discussion, whenever there is a discussion–and ‘they’ decide what we’ll be discussing.

    I don’t trust the people setting the ‘agenda’ and neither should you.

    That actually means that there are a lot of interesting things that I never get around to commenting on.

    Please understand, I am referring to a well thought out personal policy.

    Even here, on this post, you do not see me actually commenting on Charlottesville or even Antifa–until you posted. Instead, what did I do? I posted the results of some of my research. This particular post has very little analysis of the event or the parties involved, and you will see that I have said nothing directly about the event at all.

    This is deliberate. The life of my mind is not in orbit around the national outrage du jour. That is not how the Scriptures tell us to organize our thought life.

    In case it is not clear, then, I’m not interested in talking about Charlottesville, the KKK, OR Antifa. I’m interested in talking about why we’re talking about it at all, although maybe that’s better left for a future post.

    To show that this is not at all a new line of thinking for me, consider this excerpt from a 1 hour presentation I gave on “national outrages.”

    This is not a spur of the moment philosophy for me. This is the outgrowth of 5+ years of research and analysis, with an attempt to ground it in a Scriptural framework.

    • Anthony on August 24, 2017 at 9:39 am

    In case you already saw the comment, FYI, I tweaked it slightly for more clarity.

    • Nathan on August 24, 2017 at 3:01 pm

    Hey I believe you have been working on whatever you are going to post prior to my engagement with you. Thanks for the warning though. I get the outrage du jour thing. To me Charlottesville represented a break in the media cycle even though the media has tried to capitalize on it. Something real happened there.The ongoing work is more difficult though.
    I am acutely aware of white supremacy because of my privilege to dialogue and live with indigenous people in Africa. It is not always an issue of explicit awareness, but it is a fact of life for them, not an abstraction despite all the distance from white folk. I got extended privilege because of my money, my whiteness, my Americaness. I think the same is true in this country historically. I think communities of color feel similarly in this country, but I have much shallower relationships with indigenous communities or communities of color in this country so I can’t say much except what I have read from theologians and scholars I trust. Two major issues for white supremacy as part of the implicit hegemony of our system—two things that are part and parcel of the American system—are the school and prison systems.
    Probably the reason I was not aware of an anti-fascist group fighting against KKK folk is the same reason I was not aware of white supremacists rally in Charlottesville, I don’t pay that much attention to the various internet and social media channels before or after. More than that, like a lot of people in this country I have been trained to be a bit passive when it comes to stuff, and the system trains us well.
    Since I happened to see your post, I have seen several references to the group Antifa including from some clergy who were present in Charlottesville. I try to be aware of sources I trust. I try to be more local and intentional in my social engagement. I agree there are interests behind those media channels – including social media. I am learning that I need to have more than an armchairs interest in social issues. Taking sides, recognizing there are more than two sides.
    Even though I don’t trust the agenda of media conglomerates, I am interested in issues that people are interested in enough to protest because their lives are adversely affected. Even though those protests are often misinformed and lack coherence. I think there is a lot of wisdom in the saying the revolution will not be televised. And I think that means there is a need for care and concern and ministry with white supremacists as well because they are protesting.
    What this dialogue is suggesting for me is some more discussion about taking sides in light of non-violence, just war, and redemptive violence. Is non-violence a viable approach or not? I have been slowly reading over the past month Walter Wink’s Engaging the Powers. Very good stuff. But it means confronting violence with non-violence and that means risking taking brass knuckles to the face or a bat to the head.Sobering.

    • Anthony on August 24, 2017 at 6:32 pm

    I’m still not really sure what we’re dialoging about. 🙂

    You are interested in talking about a topic that I am not interested in talking about, at least not on these terms.

    Unless our conversation thoroughly incorporates how the viewpoints of people like Edward Thorndike, EA Ross, and John Dewey came to be systematized within our school system, I can’t see how we could possibly grasp the present situation. If our conversation does not encompass Malthus, Margaret Sanger, the Webbs, and Woodrow Wilson–as I see it, what’s the point? If we are not sensitive to tactics employed by the likes of Bernays or Lippmann and described (advocated for?) by Ellul, or the agenda-setting funding of the Rockefellers, Ford, and Carnegie, how do we know that what we think we know, we really know?

    Nah. Beating up on the white supremacists is super easy to do. Its already a universally repudiated ideology (in this country) that (with caveats to come in a later essay) has no chance of resurrecting in our lifetime. In the meantime, scientific management, cultural marxism, and the widespread adoption of Foucault’s hedonism is taught every day in every school at every grade, with full support of the media and Hollywood and the intelligentsia, all of whom are happy to reference the people I listed above as their intellectual and ‘spiritual’ fathers.

    (Purely coincidentally, most if not all of those people are lions of Progressivism, and if not quite that, there is one thing I don’t think any of them were: Christians.)

    The people who built the institutions you mark as having ‘implicit hegemony’ were built by racists whom the anti-racists today hail as their champions.

    Those are the terms I am prepared to have a conversation re: white nationalism.

    My feeling is that what your real thrust is actually comes in the last paragraph:

    “What this dialogue is suggesting for me is some more discussion about taking sides in light of non-violence, just war, and redemptive violence. Is non-violence a viable approach or not? … But it means confronting violence with non-violence and that means risking taking brass knuckles to the face or a bat to the head.Sobering.”

    Which makes me think that you believe I have taken a side and that I believe it may require violence to enforce. No part of that is accurate.

    Let me try to explain where things are, or where at least they are heading, as I see it:

    Wrestling with the last vestiges of overt white supremacy seems to me like stopping a rape in progress on the Titanic, as it is sinking. Yea, if I was a direct witness, I would absolutely step in and intervene, because that’s the kind of guy I am. But if the local council of the good-intentioned wanted my help in putting up posters on the ship’s deck in an attempt to undermine the ‘rape culture’, I would, as nicely as I could, tell them that I just didn’t feel I had the luxury. But there is the rub–you have to put it nicely, because that council of the good-intentioned is easily enraged, and is as likely to lock you in your room as throw you overboard for not joining them in their cause. The strategy you need is not violence, its backing away slowly, in the hopes that despite the distraction, and in light of the real situation, you might escape alive, with your family.

    In light of that scenario, the very last thing you want to waste your time on is ‘taking a side’ and trying to re-shape the social context of the ship, by force if necessary! Heck no! You invest your time on thinking about how you’ll get off the ship alive.

    Should you learn some lessons along the way, which you might want to incorporate once you get back onto dry land? Sure, absolutely. Why not? But that’s not the present predicament. The present predicament can be understood by thinking carefully about who it was who last had access to the ship’s engine and who charted its course, but understanding that even if the iceberg has not yet been struck, it would be a literal act of God at this point to avoid it.

    Let every person, every father, think long and hard about what it will be like to live in an America that has fully adopted Julian Huxley’s vision for the world, for that is very much the direction we are heading.

    So you see, there is no way that any fair reader of my positions could construe them as a call to arms. There is nothing to fight for–unless they come right into your own house. Its just a matter of keeping ourselves alive and alert until after everything plays out.

    The reason why I post the things I do is for those who have started to figure it out on their own, and are looking to put some ground beneath their suspicions. The list of names in this comment is only a partial list, but is as good as any to begin with.

    This ended up getting long, but I thought you might be helped if you understood more about how I perceive our present situation. At least you may understand why I doubt conversing on ‘white privilege’ is the best use of my time, or yours.

    • Nathan on August 26, 2017 at 7:33 am

    Hey Anthony,

    My brother, I respect your knowledge. I recognize the frustration about not being quite sure of what we are talking about. I will try to stay with the most productive threads of the conversation.

    You have read some folk I have not. There is clearly much I can learn from you about theorists and philosophers of education for instance. I suspect much of what you are saying about “those presumed to be pillars” is in line with some of my reading and assumptions. I am going to skip my explicit thoughts on how we know stuff.

    I am going to follow your lead and focus on the stuff towards the end of my previous post and toward the end of your previous post. I think here is where we are most close to talking with each other on the topic of violence and our current violent climate.

    I hear the metaphor of a sinking ship. Apt metaphor. I agree very much with the language of violence and rape culture. I also agree with the very bad prognostication about things in this country. We are heading towards a precipice as it stands. I don’t know how far off it is. But “we” are heading there. I respect your “back away slowly” comment. I have practiced that to a great extent myself, even in my mission work. (BTW this metaphor helps me interpret the “be ready” and “keep your powder dry” quotes the way you intended it.) And yet, I can’t square “backing away” with other things I am inspired by. For instance I am inspired by James Baldwin’s clear eyed recognition of how bad things are in this country, who said something like: Because I am alive, I am forced to be an optimist. To be a pessimist is to agree that human life is an academic matter.

    As Christians, as parents, we know human life is no academic matter. We are creatures in creation. But I am afraid of survival of the fittest philosophy of our modern economy. Still I dare to dream (following the philosophy of Cornel West and contra the academic work of Jacques Derrida) that I can make a difference and that there is such a thing as a collective future for us. And I believe with Apostle Paul that the gospel reveals that the weak things of this world shame the strong.

    But as you suggested, that means I need to take stock and think very seriously about what that might mean for me and my loved ones especially if I choose to “take sides.” (Even though I assert there are more than two sides. I interpret you to be saying that my action is likely to devolve into incessant action that accomplishes nothing and might even make things worse.) And my assessment is if I/we want to engage, I need to become more mature. The lack of maturity in our churches and in our communities is astounding. I am judging pastors and leaders of businesses and communities and myself. I need to look in the mirror because “we” need to look in the mirror – see where the health in us lies and strengthen it, and repent, and be transformed by the renewing of our minds. As we do so, we can hope to engage more productively. I posit that health does not come from withdrawing, but from engaging in the messy stuff and then withdrawing to heal and reflect and then engage differently with the goal of community healing beginning with the least of these.

    Even though I know my life is hidden with Christ, perhaps what is more sobering, as you rightly pointed out (thank you!), is what might happen to my loved ones. We will need to decide how to engage together. How to risk together. Because I think your metaphor about rape culture and the sinking ship is apt. Only I am not sure where the dry land is, and if we can get to dry land by backing away. Because the violent folk are likely to meet us there on the shores. So I am hoping to strategically engage with them now (after all I am one of them).

    Grace to you and thanks for taking the time to wrestle with me. You’ve always been good at that!

    • Anthony on August 26, 2017 at 10:49 am

    “My brother, I respect your knowledge.”

    I often come into contact with atheists who believe they are the smartest persons who have ever walked the globe. I tell them they are nothing compared to the smartest people I’ve met, who ‘happen’ to be Christian. Their names are Nathan E. and Bernard B. Your humility aside, we know exactly where I rate. 😉

    “I suspect much of what you are saying about “those presumed to be pillars” is in line with some of my reading and assumptions.”

    Probably not the reading–no one reads them. That’s the problem. Assumptions, however… that’s the trick.

    Will return to this below.

    “I don’t know how far off it is. But “we” are heading there.”


    “And yet, I can’t square “backing away” with other things I am inspired by.”

    Don’t get too caught up in the metaphor. Look again at the first two items on my list of priorities, top right. And I am 2 years in doing the Athanatos Festival, which is quite deliberate in engagement. The presentation I gave on national outrage was at that festival. http://www.athanatofest.com

    “I interpret you to be saying that my action is likely to devolve into incessant action that accomplishes nothing and might even make things worse.”

    Hmmm. I wasn’t saying that at all. Below, I’ll clarify exactly what it is I am saying.

    That said, this is a bit of general advice that I am known to give, so maybe you read me saying it elsewhere. This statement is true for any of us, actually. The one thing I would add to the sentiment is that the problem of possibly making things worse is even more profound than we might realize, because the things that are made worse may not occur in our lifetime or the lifetime of our children. Think: Marx, Malthus, Galton, or Gobineau.

    “is what might happen to my loved ones.”

    Or your loved one’s great-grand children.

    I don’t really have a problem with much of what you said. This last post was more ‘bigger picture’ than what you lead off with. One of the things you said, I approve of very much, but I think also highlights the warning I am issuing, was when you said: “I try to be more local and intentional in my social engagement.”

    This is by far the best way, for a large number of reasons. First of all, as I intimate in my ‘national outrage’ excerpt above, national outrage is always used to move towards national ‘solutions.’ Taking it in the broadest terms, it is supposing that because of the experience of 1 person, or even 1,000 people, the whole fate of 300,000,000 must be altered in response. This is an absurd proposition, and a recipe for untold injustices.

    You believe in sin, Nathan, whereas many of the people I talk with do not. You are concerned about a ‘survival of the fittest’ ethic in our economy. But let’s say you erect a different system. Who would be in charge of it? Do you think you could ever come up with a system that successfully isolates a person’s fallen nature so that their greed, lust, etc, never leaks out?

    And surely it follows that the more power to influence a nation that is given to a person, or a council of persons, the more ability they have to have their sinful nature wreak havoc on a larger group of people. And the higher up this council goes, the less accountability any given individual can enact–eg, let’s just see you and me try to remove a rogue member of the Supreme Court! Can you and I band together to depose the director of the FBI? The Federal Reserve exerts massive power… we wouldn’t even recognize most of their names, and couldn’t reach them if we wanted to.

    Let us assume, for the sake of discussion, that you manage to create this system and ensure that only Christians of the highest caliber were running it. Would you, in your experience of Christians, be comfortable with them in charge? (I wouldn’t.) But let’s say you did achieve this. What about when you are dead 30 years? Can you be sure this new system will remain just? On what basis?

    Now, one of the distinguishing factors of most of the people I listed is that they earnestly believed they could create more equitable systems, and creating systems is precisely what they set out to do. By and large, they are the ones that built the systems, which, you have characterized as imbued with white privilege.

    My point was not that you could do as much harm as them (although now that you’ve drawn it out of me, you can see I do not object to), but that you CANNOT redress the problems in those systems unless you understand who built them in the first place, why, and how.

    You therefore have two problems: 1., the problem you wish to solve is indeed laced with danger; remember what Jesus said about the teacher who leads people astray. Imagine the consequences of not merely leading an individual here and there astray, but enacting policies that distinctly harm people a hundred years hence–not to mention whether or not we’ve brought them closer to salvation or not. And 2., the system you wish to change was built by people who spent a LOT of time thinking things through, and intentionally had time scales of 100-200 years in mind for their efforts. And yet, they’ve been forgotten.

    Another frightening problem of enacting national solutions is that of accusing a huge number people of having attitudes and perceptions that you cannot possibly know for sure that they have. You and I are not God, after all. So, even if the ‘system’ is imbued with white privilege, it does not at all follow that every white person who has followed is himself a racist. And yet, every national solution so far proposed entails that every white person acknowledge that they are a racist. Not only is that an unhealthy, tyrannical approach to the problem, it is almost certain to backfire, generating people who figure that since they’ve been accused, they may as well be guilty of the crime.

    Now, at a local level, you can get past all of these problems. If you feel that you have a white supremacist problem in your own local area, then by all means, engage. That’s the equivalent of what I said about seeing a ‘rape in progress’ on the Titanic. All I’m saying is that salvaging the present sinking ship is the least of our concerns, and if your efforts are directed to changing THIS ship, without understanding how THIS ship was designed and navigated, you probably won’t learn the right lessons when (or, if) you get off of this ship and wish to build another. And that’s where the next danger emerges: when (if) you get off this sinking ship, will you join the work of others who believe they are sophisticated and sinless enough to make a ship that THIS time, is unsinkable?

    It’s also worth pointing out that if we make the world’s most equitable system with liberty and justice for all, granting for the sake of discussion that such a thing is possible to attain, vast numbers of people will be going to hell.

    It is not that I have chosen not to engage. It is that I have chosen to focus on the work that will address their ultimate fates, rather than the their temporal fates. The ‘world’ is not worth fighting for, only the people are. The ‘world’ will be consumed in flames, at a time we do not know. The people, however, will live forever. Either in glory… or not.

    I would thoroughly encourage you in your local work. I hope that along with ‘white privilege’ you keep your eyes out for other systemic problems that manifest locally which, however, are not the problems du jour. Being transformed by the renewing of your mind entails not only looking at the things that the world thinks you should look at.

    • Nathan on August 31, 2017 at 3:07 pm

    Thanks for the comment. I appreciate the local for sure,and resonate with that. In my experience there are potentially myriads of local issues, and I agree that is the best way to engage. What I have been working through is a method of engagement that tries to respect the local tools of perception. I am also convinced that the weak shame the strong, even at the local level, and that local folk can go through processes and determine partial solutions that they desire/want in dialogue with folks like you and me, but ultimately they are in a better place to act than I am, and those actions are always penultimate.

    That said, your strong statement about the crucial importance of understanding the hundred plus year back story about our current systems is good. I am choosing historical work in areas relevant to my ministry and experience, but am thankfully limited by my human creaturely capacity. I need to remind myself of my limitations.

    Regarding the world and its fate. I do make a distinction which I believe is biblical between the earth and the world. The earth is good. The world is not. The world stands for evil and domination. So in addition to engaging humans, I am working on valuing the creation and my fellow creatures now in a penultimate way, given my limitations and the earth’s limitations, in hope of a new heaven and a new earth.

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