If you’re going to speak truth to power, it would help if you’d speak the truth.
This is the final blog in my Trump trilogy. Each week this blog will address church ministry themes: leadership development, research, missiology, trending topics, etc. I didn’t mean to do 3 Trump posts, but every time I tried to stop, “you just kept dragging me back in!” (Gratuitous “Godfather” reference.)
I am no fan of Donald Trump. That’s clear for all to see. He’s the President. I respect the office. And when I take my own advice, I pray for him. But it’ll be a while before I get over this one. This President, in my opinion, dog whistles to this nation’s dark side.
For instance, for 5 years, despite the evidence to the contrary, he led the birther parade that questioned Obama’s place of birth. It played to the worst nature of this country. Now he’s crying crocodile tears over the explosion of racial tensions that he stoked.
No, I’m not a Trump fan, but I’m also not dumb. And that is exactly how I characterize some of the recent criticism I’ve seen of Donald Trump. The only thing more frustrating than a backfire is friendly fire. That’s when you shoot at someone, but you wound yourself instead. I’m seeing a number of Trump foes suffer self-inflicted wounds these days in the media.
For those of you like me, who have serious reservations about our 45th President; let me point out to you 3 instances when Trump criticism is just dumb.
When it’s Personal
I’m not interested in Trump’s hair. I’m not interested in Melania’s modeling career. I’m not interested in Ivanka’s clothing line. And I’m certainly not interested in attacking his son, who had absolutely no part in his Father’s decision to run for the presidency.
I’m interested in his policies. Period. There’s a reason that Michele Obama advised that, “When they go low, we go high.” It’s not only good moral advice; it’s good strategic advice. It doesn’t help your arguments against Trump, his appointments, or his policies if folk won’t listen to you because of personal attacks. You might feel better, but you are effectively talking to yourself.
When it’s Fictional
If you’re going to speak truth to power, it would help if you’d speak the truth. Conspiracy theories, exaggerations and outright lies are just as bad coming from the mouths of Trump defenders as Trump detractors.
Why anyone would intentionally quote Trump out of context is beyond me. He’s a walking textbook of questionable material. He’s a well that never runs dry. He provides free quotes for the asking. So why make stuff up? Why drop a word from a quote that would accurately explain what he’s attempting to say? I’ve seen it and I’ve heard it, and once again, it does more harm than good.
When it’s Suicidal
By suicidal I mean when attacks on Trump are actually hurting you. For instance, I am suspicious of Trumps “law and order” push. His “concern” about minority crime plays to his base and rings hollow to me. And it doesn’t’ help that he’s influenced by criminal justice “experts” like Sheriff David Clarke, Rudy Giuliani and Jeff Sessions.
But believe me, the folk most concerned about inner-city violence are inner-city residents. They don’t support indiscriminate stop and frisk practices, but many of these same residents are pleading for more, well-trained officers on their streets. Unfortunately, I’ve seen some inner-city leaders bristle at the prospect that Trump could be offering money for additional officers on their streets. Why? Because they question his motivation. Really?
February 27 and 28, the White House along with Paul Ryan, and others is hosting HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) presidents. The presidents will discuss their own priorities and Trump’s plans to support these institutions that graduate an amazing percentage of black students. And the firestorm has started.
Some are questioning why the presidents of these institutions would attend the meeting. Why provide a photo op and talking points for a President who in many areas stands for positions that they stand against?
Why? Because they deserve the money and the students need to graduate. And frankly, if we’re going to start refusing support because of the sin of the source, we’ll all be broke, busted and disgusted. You certainly couldn’t receive money from me, and I doubt if I could take any from you.
Here’s the thing. Call me a pragmatist, but desperate minority communities don’t have the luxury of turning down much-needed government resources because of the source. Frankly, we pay taxes like everyone else. That’s our money!
So listen. The house is on fire. Put out the flames first and debate with the firemen later.
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