More on Moral Licensing

I want to circle back around to the concept of “Moral Licensing” and what’s happening in our world. While I’ve said a lot the past few days, I probably didn’t have the laser-focus I could have in what I said.

So, a bit more….and first, some rapid-fire facts….things that cannot, or should not, be disputed by anyone….

Fact: There is NO “new crisis at the border.”
There is no new, super-wave of migrants coming to destroy America. Please refer to the picture, to see how border arrests have steadily fallen during the times of Bush and Obama. 45101412_10218044905538534_1266618690615377920_nThis was in fact a bone of contention among those of us (I include myself here) who wanted a more human way of dealing with crossings at the border. (The fact of Obama’s tight fist on these issues is what compelled me to be arresed at the White House during his tenure…)
There are fewer are fewer border crossings all the time. We are at or near historic LOWS in terms of border crossings, when seen over a 50-year span.
Let’s assume the “worst-case.” That 5,000 migrants make to the border (they won’t), and that they cross somehow (they won’t).
Friends, even with that influx? We would still be at or near historic 50-year lows.

Fact: The President was told that the “migrant caravan” is at least one month away. (Newsweek).
He has also no doubt been told that there is *no evidence* that George Soros or Jews are behind it. Further, he has no doubt been told that the size of the caravan is decreasing over time…which is not all surprising…and that by the time it reaches the border, if it even does, it’s likely to be very small.

Fact: Small pox has been irradicated from the earth for several decades.

Fact: Both the Florida bomber and the Pittsburg shooter targeted George Soros.
Soros has become a “short hand” for paranoid ideas about “Jewish control.”
The Pittsburg shooter made this anti-Semitism clear. The Florida bomber’s FIRST bomb was sent to Soros.

Fact: The President HIMSELF trafficked in the idea that Soros was behind the caravan. There is videotape.

Fact: The President has embraced the term “Nationalist,” despite being coached that it either generally refers to Nazis or “White Supremacists.” He has no doubt been coached in this by his own daughter and son-in-law. It has not made a difference. He’s still using the term.

Fact: Birthright citizenship is a guarantee of the 14th Amendment, and it is unquestionable that legal scholars have told the President this.

Fact: Even at the end of all these facts, the President has deployed troops to the Southern border, and called for an end to “birthright citizenship.”

I lay out all these facts to set the baseline of where we are.

I do not want to get into possible political reasons as to why the President might have ordered troops to the border, while the bodies of the Pittsburg victims had still not even been buried. Whatever political reasons he had are his own. (He has, however, factually called this election “the caravan election…”)

I do want to point out the utter and complete moral failure that these decisions (troops and birthright citizenship), at this time, represent.

And further, I ask this: What message does it send, dear fellow Americans, to the others who are “on the edge?”

What message does it send to the other potential shooters and bombers out there? Because you know there are other potential shooters and bombers out there, right?

Let’s assume Democrats do win the House next week…what message will those on the mentally unstable fringe hear then?

I’ll tell you what message it sends.

It says to them, your President agrees with you.

This is what the President is saying to them:

“You are RIGHT. We ARE being invaded. Something has to be done. Shootings and bombings will be REWARDED by me, not condemed. Yes, I’ll condemn them publicly. But I am with you….keep it up…”

Now, to be clear, the President has not verbally said anything like what I just suggested to you in the fantasy quote above.

I’m saying that’s what the unbalanced in our society…that’s what the disturbed anti-Semite, racists, and “Trump super fan”…hears.

THIS, dear friends, THIS is what moral licensing is.

Moral licensing is leaders sending messages…through both their actions and their words…that “license” people for bad behavior. It’s people who would otherwise not commit horrendous acts doing precisely that, because they believe they have permisson to do so.

Please understand me here: I am not making a judgment about everyone who suports Donald Trump, or all Republicans. There are millions of decent, kind, loving Americans who do both.

I am inviting us all to hear the messages the President is sending through his actions and his words.

PumpkingStairs - 1 (1)
Cartoon: Bruce MacKinnon

The person who should be our moral leader, the leader of all of us, our President of the United States, is sending a dog whistle to the mentally unstable, the “fringe” those who hear conspiracies that aren’t there….those who refuse to accep the facts that I’ve listed above.

Here’s the equation…

A. President says Soros (a prominent Jew) is resposible for the carvan.
B. The Bombs and shootings happen.
and then, C. The President sends troops to the border and calls for a repeal to birthright citizenship.

Friends, this is dark, dark behavior on the part of the man who is suposed to be our moral leader.

God calls us to be better as a nation. God calls us, at the time of a shooting and bombing, to have sympathy and compassion for the victims, not to use this specific time to score political points.

Pray for our nation. We have President who apparently either doesn’t see or does not care that his own actions and words can be used to destabilize the country….to turn American against American.

Friends, hug those who are different from you today.
LOVE them.
And especially to those on the political right, especially Christians on the political right: Speak out boldly against this kind of moral licensing on behalf of the president. Many did so when the President announced a separation of families. And it helped. Do so again now.

Seek and show compassion for all, but call out this kind of moral licensing too. Jesus said “the truth shall make you free.” So name the truths, even as you show compassion for those who believe differently from you.

Say it verbally, not just in your actions.

Our American people are kind, good and decent, across the political spectrum. But if you deal with the public, if you are in ministry, education, social services, or police work, you know that on the fringes there are many disturbed people who need us all to speak clearly, plainly, and in love and compassion.

They need us to clearly reject anti-Semitism and violence. They need us to speak the facts, not feed paraniod conspiracies. And they especially need our leaders to do this.

I have deep faith in the American people. I believe in the goodness of the American people, of all political views, faith views, and races. All of them.

But we appear to be dealing with some very deep darkness at the moral peak of our nation.

May God help our United States.

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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He is Senior Pastor of Kessler Park UMC United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas. Previously, he was pastor at Northaven UMC in Dallas for seventeen years. Eric loves to write on topics of spirituality, social justice, music/art and politics. The entries on this blog reflect that diversity of interests. His passion for social justice goes beyond mere words. He’s been arrested at the White House, defending immigrants and “The Dreamers,” and he’s officiated at same sex weddings in his churches, in defiance of what some believe is Methodist teaching. Eric is an avid blogger and published author, and 2017 recipient of the prestigeous Kuchling Humanitarian Award from Dallas’ Black Tie Dinner. (Human Rights Campaign) Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He’s a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named “best judge” by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County, and is currently the longest service district judge in that district. She was re-elected for a fourth term in 2018. They have the world’s best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy. Find links to Eric’s music-related websites, at the top of this site’s navigation menu.

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