“When you are a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”
Al Sharpton, the perennial flame-fanner, showed up in Ferguson to rile people up about injustice after a white policeman shot and killed an eighteen-year-old black man. He did not know the facts. He did not come in peace. He came as an opportunist to take the public stage and denounce a law officer for racism without even knowing if racism played a role in the shooting. There are hugely conflicting narratives. Which calls for listening and sober thinking. He elevated the tension. He calls himself a reverend? He would be well advised to read the Book.
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” (James 1:19-20)
A friend of mine defended Al Sharpton saying that he sometimes stands on the right side of the issues. Well even a blind squirrel finds an acorn once in a while. He has a long history of ignoring facts in order to stir up dissent. The last thing we need when dealing with the weighty issues of black/white inequality is a man who is given to emotional fanaticism.
The more I talk with African American friends, the more I become aware of the deep black/white rift in our American culture. Ferguson was a powder keg. Why? What has happened that a significant and important part of our citizenry would resort to rioting and looting? Those are not “black kids,” as though their blackness makes them somehow foreign. Those are our kids! They are American boys and girls who grew up here, for whom the promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness applies.
We are going to have to learn how to deal with the division that is growing between the races. We have to have the courage to call agitators what they are and not let them hijack the airwaves when tragedy demands greater understanding and cooperation. It is our problem because we, black and white, are co-laborers in this experiment called America. I believe that the solution is going to take some very strong black leaders to get white and black to work on this, together. People like Al Sharpton are simply not friends of our common culture. I read a Sharpton quote that surprised me in its hypocrisy…
“If you play the theatrics too much, you get in the way of your own cause.”
It would do well for he and his compatriots to follow their own advice. I hope that Christians can be the vanguard of such a movement – as when Drs. Martin Luther King and John Perkins led the Civil Rights Movement half a century ago. We need men like them, today. We don’t need hammers.