Years ago, conservative pundit Rush Limbaugh started using a phrase to describe the liberal politicians and their media mouthpieces. He called it "symbolism over substance." The point being that those on the "left" were more concerned about good sounding ideas and such than actual, real world ideas and legislation. That idea has now completely taken over our nation, it seems.
The headline in this past Sunday's paper said that the events happening in Ferguson, MO surrounding the black young man who robbed a local store and was then fatally wounded in a confrontation with a white police officer, was the beginning of the "new civil rights era." Really? This is the kind of case those fighting for genuine racial harmony are going to build their platform on? One where the actual facts have nothing to do with a racial issue at all? Symbolism over substance.
Meanwhile, across the city in St. Louis proper, several Rams players took the field with their hands up in the air mimicking the chant of the Ferguson protestors: "Hands up, don't shoot." Never mind the fact that the evidence in this case, including the autopsy, show that if the young man would have actually demonstrated this attitude and posture, he might still be alive. But as I stated in a previous post, facts don't seem to matter when it comes to issues of race. Now, it's symbolism over substance.
As I also mentioned previously, I grew up about 30 miles from Ferguson. While in the area over Thanksgiving, we watched in disappointment as protestors filled local shopping malls on "Black Friday", laying in the floor to obstruct shoppers, even closing a couple malls down. Now I've never been a Black Friday shopper, so it doesn't bother me directly, but what of all the workers in those malls who are losing paychecks because of this. Does this really help the "cause" of the protestors? Or does it just create more animosity and division?
Furthermore, large groups of people on private property protesting like this should have led directly to arrests. If I took a group of folks to the local mall and started preaching the gospel in the center court, I can guarantee I would have been escorted out quickly and firmly by security. But this is a "racial" issue, so... These actions really mean nothing constructive. It's just symbolism over substance.
There are real problems in this world. As Pastor Voddie Baucham (who is black by the way) pointed out. "There is indeed an epidemic of violence against black men. However, that violence, more often than not, occurs at the hands of other black men. In fact, black men are several times more likely to be murdered at the hands of another black man than they are to be killed by the police. For instance, in the FBI homicide stats from 2012, there were 2,648 blacks murdered. Of those, 2,412 were murdered by members of their own ethnic group. Thus," Pastor Baucham says, "if I am going to speak out about anything, it will be black-on-black crime; not blue-on-black"
Where are all the protests for genuinely innocent young black men and women being killed routinely by gangs and thieves and such? Where are the outbursts when a white young man was killed by a black police officer? Where are Sharpton and Jackson and the others when two young black men torture, rape and kill and young white woman? Where are the mall stoppers when truly innocent victims are being slaughtered left and right each and every day? Where are the cries of outrage when black business owners have their businesses destroyed by "protestors"? Oh, those lives don't matter, I guess. Or maybe it's that those cases don't feed their political machines, fill their pockets with donations, and help push their race-baiting agenda. Symbolism over substance.
Once again, please hear me. The death of Mike Brown was tragic. I pray for his family. I pray for his friends and community. This is a tragic loss of life. But the evidence was gathered, presented to a grand jury that was already "seated" long before this case came along, witnesses were interviewed, and the result was that the officer here did nothing criminal, worthy of charges. Why can't we focus on those out there who are guilty of criminal actions, now including many of the rioting, looting, so-called protestors in this case? Ah, but that would break the symbolism over substance cycle.
I know men's hearts are wicked and depraved. Sin was in the heart of Mike Brown as well as Officer Darren Wilson. Sin is in the hearts of the protestors. Sin is in my own heart. But my prayer is that the power of the Gospel would prevail, that men's hearts would be changed, that people would start focusing on the substance, the real problems, the real issues, and stop focusing on symbols like this case where the facts don't support at all the protestor's claims.
I long for the day when we can see one another simply as people, not white people, or black people, or whatever. And when real issues of race arise, they ought to be addressed. But the response by so many in this particular case, looking at the symbolism over substance, just leads to frustration on both "sides" and does nothing to genuinely help bridge the gap. May God truly change some hearts, may folks wake up to the real issues, may genuine victims begin to have their cause championed, and may peace truly come to our communities. Not just the symbol of it, but the substance of it.