31 thoughts on “Bereans VLOG (9/29/2017)”

  1. First of all, I enjoy listening to these discussions. You approach these subjects (for the most part :) ) with humility and thoughtfulness. I hope you eventually convert these weekly discussions into a subscribable, more conversational podcast!

    Candidly, though, I was very disappointed with this week’s “VLOG” and the commentary regarding the NFL protests. Most of the comments came off, to me, as the sort of analysis I would expect from individuals who have little interaction the protest’s sympathizers.

    Full disclosure: I grew up in a USAF home. Our family moved from air force base to air force base for over 25 years. At each of those bases, life would pause for about two minutes, every day, at 5PM. Pedestrians would stop walking. Cars would brake in the middle of the road. Soccer practices would halt. But that very upbringing has led me to accept and respect these protests. I take no offense to quiet kneeling during the anthem; I certainly do not see it as disrespectful to my father and the sacrifices he (and my family) made.

    So, rather than direct specific questions and comments to specific professors, I have two questions for each panel member:

    (1) Most of the panel expressed concern about the method or strategy to the current NFL protest. Dr. Haymond went so far as to say that protests which intend to cause observers to become uncomfortable or offended are inappropriate. Historically, civil rights protests were also considered inappropriate at the time they occurred. Americans decried as inappropriate sit-ins, freedom rides, marches, and even specific protesting acts by Tommie Smith/John Carlos, Muhammad Ali, and others. Today, all of those protests are viewed almost universally as courageous and honorable. So, are you are susceptible to the same mistakes other criticis made in the 50s, 60s, and 70s? Are you concerned that your analysis is subject to the criticism of King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”–which excoriated the “white moderate” for policing the tone, tactics, and timing of civil rights protests? |

    (2) Dr. Clauson suggested at one point that other protests taking place during the anthem might be appropriate. I am not sure what the rest of the panel thought. Nevertheless, what if Kaepernick explained his protest on different terms? What if he said he protested by “No one protects the flag more than our soldiers, and yet they are treated unfairly when they return from duty. They lack health care, benefits, and job opportunities, so until they get those things, I will not stand for the anthem.” If his protests were for those reasons, would it still be inappropriate to kneel during the anthem?

    1. Jonathan,

      Respectfully, I did not see in their NFL comments what you appeared to see. The gist I got was that they felt that the “inappropriateness” of the protests was far more on the “effectiveness” end. I thought that part of their concern about the method or strategy was about its ineffectiveness. Dr. Haymond specifically acknowledged there are real issues that need addressed but that this particular method is not the best way of doing so. I did not feel at all that what they said about the NFL protests is in the same vein as the civil rights protests of the 60s.

      1. Nathan, I would suggest that there is significant overlap between criticisms of “method” and criticisms of “effectiveness.”

      2. Yes, I agree. Sorry if I wasn’t clear. I thought I was. When I hear them say “inappropriate” my interpretation of that is that there are certain types of protests that because of the “inappropriateness” of the method are not helpful to the cause the protest is supposedly meant to advance. I don’t think anyone here, at least I hope not, thinks that the end goal of the protesters is wrong, but my own personal view is that kneeling for the anthem, because it is so divisive and controversial, does not help advance that goal. It may not be offensive to you, and there is nothing wrong with that, but there are tens of thousands of people who are greatly offended and view kneeling as disrespectful to the nation and to our veterans and it is turning people off to their cause, not helping it. That is the way I see it anyway.

        But anyway, just to clear that up. :)

      3. OK, then. I think you’re making my point, Nathan. :) I’m asking the professors to respond to MLK’s criticism of the “white moderate” deeming certain civil rights protests as “inappropriate”–whether too offensive, too disruptive, etc.

        Personally, I think King’s argument is both analogous to the present and persuasive. Like the current NFL protest, King’s tactics were criticized for being offensive, untimely, disrespectful, and ineffective. However, and as King so articulately argues, even if a civil rights protest is offensive, untimely, disrespectful, and ineffective, it does not follow that the protest ought to be discouraged necessarily.

        If you would like to respond to King’s Letter, you’re certainly welcome to. I’m hoping the professors will as well.

      4. Jonathan, I think it would be impossible for me to answer MLK’s letter with a single answer. I would have to analyze on a case by case basis each specific “direct action” he thinks “white moderates” were wrong to criticize. My guess is that I would think some were in fact inappropriate but that others were not.

      5. @ Jonathan
        No, I won’t first answer yours. Simply because I intend to understand better how to answer your questions with the use of your answers. And its possible it may lead to a separate post/thread to carry the discussion. If you do answer my question first, I promise to answer yours–hopefully even to your satisfaction!

      6. @ Jeff Haymond

        I would summarize current NFL protests as seeking spotlight modern civil rights injustices suffered by marginalized communities, particularly the African-American community. That has been the nearly universal stated aim. One particular example comes from my friend, and Cleveland Browns Tight End, Seth DeValve. Seth was the first white NFL player to kneel during the anthem. He gave his reasons why during a preseason postgame interview; his wife Erica also wrote a terrific open letter to follow up Seth’s comments. Both are below.

        https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/ftw/2017/08/22/read-seth-devalves-powerful-reasons-for-kneeling-during-the-national-anthem/104846104/

        https://verysmartbrothas.theroot.com/i-m-proud-of-my-husband-for-kneeling-during-the-anthem-1798374605

        Now, you “don’t think anyone would deny” that “America still has lingering race issues.” I respectfully disagree, for four reasons. First, the 2016 election spoke volumes on how de-prioritized racial justice is for many voters. Second, my own anecdotal experience suggests otherwise; I meet frequently with well-intended (usually white) Christians in the Metro Detroit area who are convinced modern America is post-racial. Third, our society is as segregated as it has ever been–ethnically, ideologically, and socio-economically–and that segregation interferes with our collective ability to empathize with the experiences of other social groups, particularly marginalized groups. Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, I am confident that if the public recognized modern civil rights injustices, they would be moved to act.

        If I am right–and I think the evidence weighs that way–then a protest intended to draw the attention of a segregated, racialized society to modern civil rights injustices makes a lot of sense.

        (Perhaps this disagreement also stems from any distinction between what you refer to as “lingering race issues” and what I consider modern civil rights injustices)

        Now, in terms of recommended solutions, I spent a day or two connecting with neighbors and church members whom I respect here in my eastside Detroit neighborhood. I wanted to get their perspective as long-suffering African-Americans. While I cannot say the suggestions below are identical to those from Kaepernick or DeValve, I think they are consistent with their NFL protest:

        1. Reform Racialized Institutions — This was a no-brainer for everyone I spoke to. I am also borrowing the term “racialized” from Divided by Faith: Evangelical Faith and the Problem of Race. It is in my opinion a must-read, regardless of your political persuasion. “Racialized” is an adjective which describes a system or process where, when controlling for other variables, statistically significant outcomes can be predicted according to one’s race. Here are two specific racialized institutions I would like to see reformed:

        (A) The criminal justice systems (specifically sentencing, public defense, police accountability structures, and the so-called “War on Drugs”); and

        (B) Public school financing mechanisms (a state-by-state agenda to replace property-tax based models and with one of several, quality funding model in order to avoid neighborhood funding inequities that accelerate segregation).

        2. Prioritize Ending Modern Civil Rights Injustices in the GOP’s Platform — The neighbors I have spoken with agree that both parties have failed their community, but they also agree that one party in particular is the most threatening: the Republican party. Now, you can argue economics and welfare reform until you’re blue in the face, but why not champion a policy that specifically targets and benefits marginalized communities? You could start with the above suggestions, or you could draft a dynamic UBI model (popularized by Milton Friedman, recently endorsed by Charles Murray, neither of whom are liberal leftists!). You could also, a la Russell Moore, draw a non-negotiable line in the sand and refuse to tolerate any association with or acceptance of remotely racist behavior and beliefs. That still may not be enough to repair the damage that has been done over the last several decades, but it would help.

        3. Encourage Dynamic Public-Private Partnerships to Benefit Marginalized Communities — Here’s where my neighbor’s expertise diminished, but their imaginations soared. The GOP has the market literally cornered on business-minded policy wonks AND tight-knit connections (for better or for worse) with some of the largest economic engines the world has ever seen. Both the party and the corporate community have a miserable reputation in marginalized communities; why not brainstorm and eventually pioneer a policy-profit solution to some of the major woes facing marginalized communities?

        I think the above three recommendations would not only do good for neighbors in communities like mine; they would good sound, political sense for the GOP.

        Now, I would appreciate hearing your response to my original two questions. :)

      7. @ Jonathan–
        Nicely done on your comment. I need to beg a reprieve until likely this weekend–jammed on my end and your post necessitates a thoughtful post. I don’t want to rush. I’ll probably take to a new post on this subject. But seriously, your post was very thoughtful and beneficial to discussion–thanks!

    2. Jonathan–
      Thanks for your comment. Since I do have little interaction with the protest’s sympathizers (you’re right there), help me understand specifically what the goal and action they hope to achieve? What do they want me to do? What do they want you to do? I’m not sure what the protesters are trying to achieve except to draw attention to the fact that America still has lingering race issues. I don’t think anyone would deny that. The question is, what do they want? Could you give me (say) the top three specific actions that this movement wants to see accomplished?

      1. Not to inject myself where I do not belong, but this is taken directly from BLM’s website:

        “Many believe the Black Lives Matter movement has no agenda — other than yelling and protesting and disrupting the lives of white people. This is also false. Since the earliest days of the movement in Ferguson, groups like the Organization for Black Struggle, the Black Lives Matter network, and others have made both clear and public a list of demands. Those demands include swift and transparent legal investigation of all police shootings of black people; official governmental tracking of the number of citizens killed by police, disaggregated by race; the demilitarization of local police forces; and community accountability mechanisms for rogue police officers. Some proposals like the recently launched Campaign Zero by a group of Ferguson activists call for body cameras on every police officer.”

        “Although it is true that much of the protesting to date has been centered on the issue of police brutality, there is a range of issues that movement work will likely push in years to come. One is the issue of our failing system of public education, which is a virtual school-to-prison pipeline for many black youth. Another is the complete dismantling of the prison industrial complex. Many of the movement’s organizers identify as abolitionists, which in the 21st-century context refers to people who want to abolish prisons and end the problem of mass incarceration of black and Latino people. Three other significant issues are problems with safe and affordable housing, issues with food security, and reproductive justice challenges affecting poor women of color and all people needing access to reproductive care.”

        Not that I agree with these, but they do actually have a platform.

      2. Thanks, Professor Haymond. And thanks to “Theophilus” for sharing that summary from BLM.

        Before I answer your questions–and I am happy to do so–would you please answer mine?

      3. Theophilus
        Thanks for looking. However, its still not clear to me what this broader social movement wants. For example, I’m not sure that is the same thing the students at Evergreen wanted, or what these students at Harvard were protesting:
        http://www.nationalreview.com/article/452071/betsy-devos-harvard-speech-education-secretary-campus-protest%20free-speech-school-choice

        Since we’re on this forum, I’d be interested at someone like Jonathan posting what the specific goals ought to be. After all, if we’re trying to build a consensus or at least mutual understanding with even our own readers, I’d like to know what these readers really think. Its not clear to me at all that NFL players kneeling are trying to sign up to the BLM agenda.

        And btw, I could support some of that agenda, which you may find surprising.

      4. Personally, I do not think that the BLM movement is monolithic in its goals and desires. There have been some local BLM rallies near where I live and they have been nothing less than dignified and respectful. In other cities, BLM groups have rioted and chanted or held up signs with very offensive messaging.

        I do not doubt that many (maybe even most) in the BLM movement have specific honorable goals they want to accomplish. Unfortunately, they are often drowned out by the less honorable factions within the movement.

  2. “Dr. Haymond went so far as to say that protests which intend to cause observers to become uncomfortable or offended are inappropriate. Historically, civil rights protests were also considered inappropriate at the time they occurred. Americans decried as inappropriate sit-ins, freedom rides, marches, and even specific protesting acts by Tommie Smith/John Carlos, Muhammad Ali, and others. Today, all of those protests are viewed almost universally as courageous and honorable. So, are you are susceptible to the same mistakes other criticis made in the 50s, 60s, and 70s? ”

    Thank you for seconding a point I have made here many times before. The Civil Rights Movement is a very apt analogy. Sadly, many white Christians–most of them, frankly–opposed it, and opposed groups like the NAACP and SCLC. Now that it is no longer socially acceptable in most places to oppose civil rights for blacks, now the same kinds of believers support the CRM and say that it was the right thing to do. But now these same Christians oppose civil rights for others, including those whose sexual identity makes them uncomfortable. Thirty years from now, I say, most Christians will look back with sadness at this behavior.

    Disappointed that this video blog tackled the NFL protests and slighted other important topics such as the crisis that is going on in Puerto Rico. What else is new?

    Thank you for your comment.

    1. Jonathan may disagree with me, but I did not think he seconded your point at all. The point he made was that there were those who felt that the method of protests used by the civil rights movement was inappropriate, for example civil disobedience (which is different from opposing civil rights themselves). Your point, which is false, that you seem obsessed with making continually, is that most Christians were racists who outright opposed civil rights for blacks. His point was quite different, and at least partially true, at least to me.

      “Disappointed that this video blog tackled the NFL protests and slighted other important topics such as the crisis that is going on in Puerto Rico. What else is new?”

      At the end of the video, Dr. Smith specifically invited questions and topic suggestions. Instead of choosing to criticize them for not talking about what you wanted them to, why not politely make a suggestion? You do understand that they can only talk about so much in a 30 minute video. You want them to discuss Puerto Rico? I would be happy to join you in that request, though I have to wonder what exactly they would say about it other than rehash the news reports, unless of course what you are really after is either for them to join the “Trump hates Puerto Rico” chorus or to criticize them for not joining it if they happen to disagree Trump is at fault for the island’s problems.

      1. Nathan D said, “Your point, which is false, that you seem obsessed with making continually, is that most Christians were racists who outright opposed civil rights for blacks. His point was quite different, and at least partially true, at least to me.”

        It is NOT false. The opinion polls of the time make it quite clear that many white Christians, if not most of them, opposed the Civil Rights Movement.

        I am sorry if that fact is uncomfortable to you, but it is not make it less true.

      2. My problem with what you say is not that am uncomfortable with it. Not by a long shot. My problem is that you consistently engage in over-generalization of white Christians. Were there white Christians who opposed the Civil Rights Movement. Of course. But you claim that most white Christians did. Maybe this comment would be true if made more specific to say “most white Christians in the south”. But you did not and do not do that. You make it sound like, with very few exceptions, that if you were a white Christian anywhere in the United States in the 1960s, you were most likely a racist, and that is not true. White Christians were not geographically confined to the south and were not, by a long shot, monolithic in their views of race and civil rights.

        The polling data I looked at showed that public opinion on the civil rights act was clearly in favor of the civil rights act, even among whites nationwide. So in essence, what you are claiming is that of the whites who opposed civil rights were mostly Christians, and the greater number of whites who supported civil rights were mostly not Christians. I am sorry, but I have found no evidence that supports such a claim, if that is indeed your claim.

  3. Bereans,

    Thanks for another good video. The tax reform discussion was interesting, especially the part discussing the State tax deductions. On one hand, I don’ t like the idea of people ending up paying more because of no State tax deduction. On the other hand, maybe in some of the States with high taxes, it will be an impetus for State-based reform. Paul Ryan had a good point in saying that really, in a way, the federal government has been subsidizing States with high taxes. I am still studying alot of the particulars. There are things about it I really like and some things I question.

    1. The federal government subsidizes states with low state taxes. if Ryan said that, he was wrong.

      Paul Ryan has lost all credibility regarding fiscal matters. He was fiscally conservative when the Democrats were in power but, like most conservatives, has less of a problem now with deficits now that the GOP is back in power.

      1. How exactly does the federal government subsidize low tax states?

        The argument on high tax states is that the higher the State tax, the greater the federal deduction, so the States who tax at higher levels have some of that impact lessened by the federal deduction for that higher tax persons are allowed to take.

  4. Football, what used to be the American sport used to bring people together. Rather, now that it has become so political, both coming from the players and from the political heads, it has torn people apart. I hope that people will be able to take their political views off of the football field and that spectators can return to having the neutral “water-cooler” conversation that football used to be.

  5. Dr. Wheeler, I understand where you are coming from wanting to keep the state tax deductions. We all want to keep any deductions that we can. However, won’t this lead to lower taxes all around in the long run? Certainly the first cause of this proposal will be rebellion from congressmen from higher tax states. Despite that rebellion, let’s assume that such changes do make it into a hypothetical final tax bill that actually passes both houses. If this bill were to pass, wouldn’t we see more states reducing taxes? People would be more likely to move to lower tax states or elect officials at home who support lower taxes. This will lead to greater growth even beyond the federal deductions because we could see lower tax rates even among the states.

    1. I would add on to that the fact that there is far more to be considered than just the state deduction issue. There are lower tax brackets, lower corporate taxes, fewer loopholes, etc. So, just to focus too mightily on one part of the reform would be a mistake in my opinion. Moreover, there’s the broader issue of trade offs in any type of reform. Regardless of what we are planning on doing, we are probably going to have to eat a sauerkraut sandwich on parts of the reform. This doesn’t mean the reform as a whole is lost.

  6. I think the NFL players have to realize that they are in a business to make people money. The money comes from the fans, and with the protesting, viewer ratings have gone down and people are less interested in watching the sport because it has become about politics. There have been so many videos of lifelong fans of a team burning all of their merchandise because they don’t agree with what the players are doing. I think the players have the right to kneel, but they shouldn’t protest in that way, they are being paid to play football and win games. If they want to protest, go lead a march or support an organization that believes in what you believe in.

  7. I believe Professor Haymond is planning to answer my original two questions; I would still appreciate hearing from the rest of the VLOG’s panel. Thanks! :)

  8. The politics happening in the NFL right now is a perfect example of politics permeating all aspects of life, as stated in a previous blog post. It’s amazing how even sports can become a political battleground where the president himself becomes involved.

  9. “Are we too politicized?” I think yes. This goes back to a previous post by Dr. Smith about politics invading every aspect of life. Unfortunately, it has only escalated. Having a president posting his strong opinions on social media has backfired once again. When I saw football players kneeling during the anthem, I along with many were confused as to what their goal was. I think the protest was blurry and somewhat ineffective.

  10. It is sad to see how we have to see politics in everything that goes on in our world. I believe that it is not a great thing for the NFL players to kneel for the national anthem, but then again who am I to judge them? If I want to complain about them kneeling, than shouldn’t I just stop watching, but I will not stop watching. So while I am there, whether I prefer them to stand or not I am still paying to watch them play. It is their personal choice, and if they believe that it is making a difference, so be it. We can not control their actions, but we can stop watching them.

  11. The NFL protests give another means for President Trump to speak his mind and reach the “base” that he believes brought him to office. At the same time, it has become increasingly evident that politics has spilled over into those areas where Americans have gone to “get away” from the constant barrage, namely sports. Someone watching sports does not want to have their political beliefs challenged; they want to see skilled athletes, do amazing things. To a greater extent, politics has gotten into everything, including movies, music, commercials, news networks, church congregations–nearly every aspect of life has recently been touched. One would ask, where does it end, and what can be done about it?

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