By SUSAN K. SMITH
Crazy Faith Ministries
I get perturbed now and then when privileged people attempt to compare the problems they encounter in life with the problems encountered by people in this country who are marginalized, either because of race, ethnicity, gender or religion.
They too often point to the struggle of Black people in this country to achieve not only civil but human rights. They use the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – and others – to illustrate their struggle. White people in general have done this, but even more particularly, White women, and White members of the LGBTQIA community. It always riles me because at the end of the day, White members of those communities still manage to marginalize Black people. They use the words of our heroes and generals to get their point across and leave us in the dust as they sure forward.
But my perturbation went to a new level last week when Trump advisor Stephen Moore compared the protests of those who are objecting to social distancing to the action taken by Rosa Parks, as reported in The New York Times. Moore, who has made a slew of remarks regarding the lives of women, Blacks, immigrants and more – said that the gun-toting protestors were akin to Parks because they were fighting for justice. In their minds, the government putting shelter-in-place rules is an assault on their right to assemble. And so … assemble they did – showing up in state capitols in states where Democratic governors are pushing back on the president’s statements and non-actions, demanding that the cities be reopened so that business can go back to what it was.
Moore said, “I call these protestors modern-day Rosa Parks. They are protesting against injustice and loss of liberties.”
The comparison is so skewed that it actually defies refutation. Gun-toting protestors, primarily White, gathering in crowds in refinance of the rules put in place to save and protect humanity are nowhere close to being on the same page or being mentioned in the same breath as Parks. And they know it – or do they?
But what this arrogant and ignorant point of view made me wonder is, “Do they really believe what they said? Do they really think that rules put in place to save human lives from a deadly virus is the same as protesting years of discrimination based solely on race?
It is insulting, to say the least, to hear anyone make such a bold assertion. Has White privilege and white supremacy damaged the capacity of people to think clearly or to have the capacity even to care about what they are saying?
If this is about protecting liberty, one has to wonder what the response would be of Moore and these protestors if Black people toting guns showed up on the capitol steps demanding justice. Would their actions likewise be compared to Parks, or would they face immediate resistance from “law enforcement,” eager to protect the liberties of those whom they believed the Black protestors were threatening?
I wish white supremacists could be forced to consider historically what the white supremacist social, political, and economic systems have done not only to Black people, but to all people of color. I wish they could be forced to hear the stories of how white supremacists, believing their ideas came from and were supported by God, totally damaged the lives of so many innocent people, who, contrary to these protestors, really have had their liberty constrained and denied.
Parks was a warrior who defied White arrogance; she does not need me to defend her and her legacy; it stands on its own.
But these gun-toting “patriots” have managed to insult a broad swath of people who suffer from the loss of liberty every single day. Their appearances this week were political and were meant to intimidate anyone who would challenge them.
They do not understand that people who have been fighting oppression all their lives are not afraid of their guns and laugh, actually, that they believe the way to fight the invisible virus is with an AK-47. No, people of color are not intimidated. Angry, privileged White people have been using guns to mow us down since we’ve been in this country.
But their using the name of a woman who represented millions of Black people who were not protesting episodic discomfort and a temporary cessation of comfort goes beyond the pale.
They do not understand the fight for true liberty and justice. Their appearance with their guns made that abundantly clear.
Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith is the founder and director of Crazy Faith Ministries. Her latest book, Rest for the Justice-Seeking Soul, is now available through Barnes and Noble and Amazon. She is available for speaking. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.