“I would’t give a f#ck if a Russian tank was rolling down Flatbush Boulevard. I ain’t shooting nobody …”
That’s a direct quote from Chris Rock’s comedy special, from 1999. I laughed and laughed.
He was basically talking about how he kinda loved America but would never really do anything for America. After all, black grievance joke here and America is bad punchline there, and all of that.
Then, about two years later, right after 9/11, I saw Chris Rock on that celebrity telethon, taking calls and looking downright ashen. And when everybody stood together at the end, and sang God Bless America, he was right there with them, with his hand over his heart, singing with all the earnestness of a nine-year-old girl scout.
As I watched him crooning out some song he probably didn’t even believe should’ve ever been written in the first place, I thought about that comedy special. And I thought about how cavalier he had been toward the country he now seemed to be clinging to with all his might.
I thought about how easy is is to pace the stage like a tiger and talk smack and drop the mic. But when buildings start falling around you and you see not only the possibility of your own death, but of your very society’s end…well…it gets real.
I’ve been hearing, for the last several years, about how this country was founded on sin and evil and needs to be torn down and rebuilt. I’ve been told how we need another revolution. I’ve watched people tear down the historical markers and call for a “re-set.”
Last summer, the courthouse in my own hometown (Nashville) was burned during one of the protests. I had several friends defend the action and talk about how rioting is the language of the unheard (one of the most tortured MLK quotes of all time), etc, etc.
I’ve watched American Olympic athletes (and entire professional sports teams and franchises) kneel in unity against the flag and the country, stating that it is a moral obligation to do this. And anyone who doesn’t do it is complicit in some form of oppression or tyranny.
Silence is violence.
I’ve read Facebook posts about how violence and the destruction of property is actually a righteous act in some cases. That was an actual post by someone I’ve known for decades.
I heard actual elected officials talk about defunding law enforcement.
I heard Madonna say she’d thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House. And I had some friends actually defend her comments.
Well, okay. I’m going to take all of you at your word.
Yesterday was the first hearing regarding the attack on the Capital building in Washington, DC, on January 6th.
As of this writing, we’re still not really sure who did what. Was it Trump supporters? Was it Antifamasquerading as Trump supporters? Was it some outlier group not connected to anything?
It doesn’t matter.
Here’s the thing that has been rolling over and over in my mind for the past 7 months…
If you’ve ever beaten your chest and crowed about how this country needs to be torn down to its foundations and rebuilt…well, on January 6th, the wrecking ball showed up.
If you’ve ever seriously talked about how it all needs to be pulled up by the roots, there they were, with the gardening tools.
If you’ve ranted and raved about how Congress needs a good spanking, there they were with the switch.
If you’ve publicly called for a weakened law enforcement presence in the United States, viola…there it was.
If you’ve called for a revolution, then January 6th is what a revolution actually looks like. They’re not pretty. And they’re not orderly. And they’re easier to call for that to actually participate in.
As it turns out, most people don’t actually have the stomach for what they think they want. The breathless Tweets and pearl clutching Facebook posts by people who have said they want to see something like a revolution, were ironic to say the least.
See, you can cheer on rioters and looters when it’s just an average American city (preferably far away from you). You know they’ll rebuild it. You know insurance will kick in. You know, when the smoke clears, everybody will settle down and clean up.
But when you see the heart of the nation, the place where it all gets done, the symbol and touchtone of the very foundations of your life, under siege and in imminent danger…well…again, it gets real,real fast.
We love to rebel against things…until they’re not there anymore. When we’re kids, we love to wish our parents would just die…until one of them actually does. Married people often wish their spouse would just go away, until they are in the throes of an actual divorce.
Maybe it’s time to get serious about what we really want and what we really don’t want.
When I used to write Christian Music, I would always say that I didn’t really want to hang out with the Baptists…but I sure was glad they were there.
Maybe we can take some things away from this that can help us rebuild some basic, agreed upon principles.
How about this one? America is good. And we don’t want to see it end. Could that be our simple, guiding North Star again?
Or here’s a novel one: we all agree that a well trained, well armed, well funded police force is essentially a good thing.
If we can’t agree on those two principles, we’re going to see more days like January 6th. And we’re going to have to stop wringing our hands when we see it, if we are constantly calling for it.
Maybe the truth is we actually want to see it happen…if the right people do it.
But for those who don’t want to see it happen, how about this? Could we all take a damn minute and stop putting thousands of people in the same place? Every time I hear about this march or that march happening, my stomach tightens up. Because these things almost never end well. You put a hundred thousand people at a protest and somebody’s going to pop off. It’s just basic math.
Everybody, everywhere, on every side of every issue, stop protesting for a hot minute and let this country catch its breath.
As far as hypocrisy goes…well, there’s almost too much of it to address. Why don’t we stow all the whataboutisms for a minute and focus on those two things I talked about?
As far as Madonna wanting to blow up the White House goes? Well, ma’am. I don’t think you really meant that. Surely, after January 6th and its aftermath, you see how destructive something like that would be.
As for the rest of us, let’s take a lesson from Chris Rock, put our hands back over our hearts, and sing God Bless America again.
And let’s really mean it this time.
TO SUPPORT THIS BLOG, CLICK ONE OF THE LINKS BELOW: