Best of 2020 #4 GOSPEL COALITION ARTICLE SEES “EGREGIOUS CONTRAST” BETWEEN JACOB BLAKE AND KYLE RITTENHOUSE

As 2020 comes to a close, I am sharing some of my top posts from this year. This post was originally shared on August 31.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The Gospel Coalition website ran a piece last week titled “Why I hate August” by Illinois pastor K. Edward Copeland. I strongly disagree with many of the statements in the article. 

At the beginning of the piece, Dr. Copeland talks of good experiences with August. It’s his birthday and wedding anniversary month. He loves the summer. But then the article shifts “I hate August because it reminds me that some view bodies like mine as disposable.”

The piece quickly turns into propaganda as Copeland irrelevantly brings up the weather. “As Hurricane Laura decimates the South I’m also haunted by the black and brown bodies that were stranded on rooftops during Hurricane Katrina in August 2005.”

What’s his point? That the weather is also racist? 

Copeland talks about the seven shots from the police which struck Jacob Blake, whom Copeland describes as “unarmed” and points out that the now paralyzed Blake is handcuffed to his hospital bed.

Couple of points to be made in response to that. While Copeland jumps to assuming that this was racially motivated, there is still dispute as to whether or not Blake had a knife or if he might have been reaching for a knife prior to being shot. But that’s part of the issue. Blake was not compliant, he had been tasered twice, he was a felon with warrants, and he was either reaching into a car or was trying to flee in a car with three kids in the vehicle. Copeland brings up that Blake was handcuffed to his hospital bed. Once again, he’s giving propaganda and appeals to emotion. Blake may be paralyzed but he’s still a criminal and there are protocols. The rules for how prisoners are restrained in the hospital are not up to the whims of the staff or how practical or necessary they think the restraints are. 

When Copeland talks about Rittenhouse, he calls that an “egregious contrast.” 

Copeland talks about how Rittenhouse “killed people in the street” and then was able to calmly approach the police. In my opinion, Copeland does too much to assume the mindset of these men, especially Rittenhouse when he says things like “He assumed there was something about his person that would allow him to approach law enforcement with a visible automatic weapon that had just taken lives.” We can’t know his thoughts. 

Then Copeland compares Rittenhouse to Dylann Roof as another mass shooter. And this is where I must call Copeland out. That is absurd. I get that his point might have been that they were both people who were peacefully taken into custody but to compare the two is insane. Dylann Roof attended a prayer meeting at a predominantly black church and then murdered nine people in an effort to ignite a race war. Kyle Rittenhouse shot at people who were attacking him. More information will need to come out about Rittenhouse and if he had motivations for violence beforehand, but there is also a legitimate argument that his shootings were a matter of self-defense. You can see video of people attempting to assault Rittenhouse (some of whom also had guns). 

I’m not positive, but Copeland seems to be implying that Rittenhouse wasn’t afraid of the police because he’s white.

Copeland says “The inconsistency between how these two bodies were treated in Kenosha reinforces my childhood suspicions.”

Copeland is taking these two events and acting like they’re a case study in how white and black people are treated by police. Nevermind that there is a longstanding standard of situations when officers are legally justified to use deadly force and that Blake’s situation pretty clearly fits that criteria. No, let’s just push the narrative that Blake was shot purely because of race, not because he was resisting, had weathered tasers, was reaching into his vehicle, and posed a threat. Rittenhouse was peacefully arrested because he was white, not because he surrendered. 

Copeland says, “Those who claim my same convictions about Christ will be the first and loudest to castigate me for these observations. They’ll be the most proficient at finding some excuse for Rittenhouse, the most cavalier in discounting my trauma, the most eager to somehow find a “Marxist” or “Critical Race Theory” connection in my reflections.” 

When you ignore facts and simply go with a narrative and attempt to make what appears to be a justifiable use of force into another flash point, it’s hard to not feel that you’re perpetuating the agenda of critical race theory. 

There are absolutely egregious injustices which have happened to African Americans. But not all uses of police force are unjustified. And in line with the critical theory agenda, Blake’s actions have no relevance in this Gospel Coalition article. He’s purely the innocent victim. It’s nonsense.

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