Climate of intimidation and bullying facing more vocal backlash

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By Vernon A. Williams, Gary Crusader

Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee did what only a handful of Republicans have been willing to do. He stood squarely in the face of a bully, and declared the political situation is toxic to our republic. He metaphorically cried out, “the emperor has no clothes.” Corker said the incumbent is not only incompetent, but a danger to democracy.

Later the same day, Arizona Senator Jeff Flake delivered a historic speech to his colleagues declaring that he will not run for re-election because the leadership of this nation is “reckless…outrageous…and undignified.” Flake called 45 “dangerous to democracy” and summed his thoughts in the phrase: “Mr. President…enough.”

Instead of respecting difference, the nation’s leader tweets an angry, insulting rebuttal to Corker. His minion Steve Bannon responds to Flake with a brush off, “One more scalp.” Disgraceful. We have reached a point at which ruthless challenges to individual rights run rampant – especially freedom of speech – and rebellious voices are muted.

Twice in a week, news reporters were chastised for simply questioning words or actions of military leadership; a Congresswoman was scorned and ridiculed at the highest levels of government for questioning the POTUS’ response to a grieving widow, and an 11-year-old got kicked out of the Boy Scouts for asking about gun control and racism.

In an era of equivocation, compromise and expediency, there are two principles upon which I will remain unmovable. I am uncompromising-ly Christian and unapologetically Black. There is no need for me to get approval, I will not waver on my positions as audiences differ and my position isn’t influenced by polls or popular thought.

Understand that self-affirmation does not require the denigration of others. I respect individuals of all religions and the word of God persuades me to love even those who claim none at all. It’s just that where I am concerned, there is one name by which men and women are saved and it is “Jesus.”

Again, love for my race does not translate into antipathy for any other people. We are all God’s children. But the Bible requires you to attend to your own home before you go off crusading for the neighbor. The needs of the African American community sometimes seem insurmountable. They beg the commitment of all who feel so inclined.

It is what it is. Uncompromisingly Christian. Unapologetically Black. Period.

Some offer nothing but disdain for organized religion, looking at the abusive manner in which racists have touted Christian beliefs to reinforce hatred and bigotry. More subtly, some question so-called “evangelical right” support for ungodly leadership.

You are not alone. Many devout Christians join you in repulsion of hypocrisy. To my non-believing brothers and sisters I suggest that you not be confused. Everyone crying, “Lord, Lord!” will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. These wolves in sheep’s clothing will get their just desert.

On the matter of Blackness, there are too many African Americans willing to abdicate obligation to the race for personal gain or broader acceptance; too many in positions of influence or authority don’t want to risk their status for the state of their people. It is not enough to assume your assignment. You must fulfill your responsibility. This is particularly true in the wake of FBI threats to vilify strong Black identity as extremist threats to the nation – reminiscent of the infamous COINTELPRO debacle of the 60s and 70s.

Former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover decided that the Black Panther Party was more of a threat to national security than Communism. An eerie sense of déjà vu clouds today’s politics. Hoover’s full-scale counter-intelligence program called COINTELPRO was to “disrupt and neutralize” the Panthers. The same animus now targets Black Lives Matter.

Breaking News for those whose misguided vision of greatness is returning America to the height of racial oppression and the regression of the past: It’s not going to happen. The intelligence, capabilities, resourcefulness, and resolve of people of color is far greater than in the past. The width, breadth and depth of alliances among those who share the conviction that we are one, is deeper than is revealed on the surface.

As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. warned, we will learn to live together as brothers and sisters or perish as fools. The truth is that there are more good Americans abandoning warring extremes and moving toward a more peaceful center – recognizing our common aspirations and celebrating our distinctions. Better days are on the horizon.

We have identified those vying to divide and conquer, for the frauds that they are. There undoubtedly remains haunts of bigotry and the looming menace of hateful architects of destruction. But their diabolical scheme is unraveling as more are gathering the courage to call them out for what they are, in spite of threats.

The awful upsurge in brutal assaults on civility since the inauguration is being met with stronger opposition in what may be a powerful upsurge of moral resistance. Change is inevitable because no lie can last forever, Dr. King reminded us, adding that truth crushed to earth will rise again. Right will prevail.

CIRCLE CITY CONNECTION by Vernon A. Williams is a series of essays on myriad topics that include social issues, human interest, entertainment and profiles of difference-makers who are forging change in a constantly evolving society. Williams is a 40-year veteran journalist based in Indianapolis, IN – commonly referred to as The Circle City. Send comments or questions to: vernonawilliams@yahoo.com.

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