I am not a child abuser

Resist
Your freedom is threatened
if you refuse to defend my right to disagree with you.

Never in a million years did I ever think I would need to defend myself from such an outrageous allegation. But the times in which we find ourselves forces me to denounce the latest accusations emanating from the White House. According to its current occupant, “[Critical race theory is] a form of child abuse in the truest sense of those words.”

As one who teaches critical race theory, publishes books using critical race theory, and believes this nation’s salvation depends on implementing the lessons learned from critical race theory – I am not a child abuser. Nor, for the record, do I hate America.

Instead, I am demanding America lives up to its rhetoric of “liberty and justice for all.” Nor do I loathe the police. Instead, I loathe decades, if not centuries, of the institutionalized racism found within police departments, which has devalued human life. Nor do I abhor white people. Instead, I abhor white supremacy. Nor am I against conservatives. Instead, I am against all forms of oppressive regimes imposed by right-wing wannabe fascist dictatorships like Trump and left-wing communist dictatorships like the former Castro regime.

As an educator, freedom of thought is the touchstone by which we must judge all political systems. I am committed to defending your opinion, regardless of how wrong or ignorant, it may be, as long as we seek resolution to our differences through ballots rather than bullets. Even though I oppose wars, I do not oppose our young who fought in them. They envision themselves as protecting my constitutional right to criticize what the flag is said to represent in their minds. Or to kneel during the singing of its anthem. Or to burn it during extreme national distress, as we are witnessing today. We honor the memory of those who believe they died defending liberty when we fully exercise freedom by tolerating those with whom we find political disagreement.

While freedom is sacred, all which is holy can be used for evil. Freedom ends when it willfully endangers lives or calls for the threatening of lives. When the hypothesis that “masks save lives” is scientifically proven through observation and experimentations, no right exists not to wear a mask. To claim one’s freedom to ignore science demonstrates a total disregard for human life.

The hypothesis that elections are rigged was statistically disproven after a significant study during the Bush II administration. A second study began during the Trump administration but disbanded for lack of evidence. No argument exists, except for a naked power grab, to refuse to step down if we, the people, through our voice, our vote, make such a demand.

Get Up, Stand Up

But when I stand with others in the streets, wear my collar and raise my fist, I am labeled as angry, a hater, a child abuser. This rhetoric gives white supremacists license to take violent action against those of us who yearn not to live in fear, those of us who refuse to curtail our thoughts.

Safety and security for just 30% of the population who share the same ideological leanings with whoever happens to occupy the appropriately named White House can never be confused with democratic principles.

But when I stand with others in the streets, wear my collar and raise my fist, I am labeled as angry, a hater, a child abuser. This rhetoric gives white supremacists license to take violent action against those of us who yearn not to live in fear, those of us who refuse to curtail our thoughts.

Suppose the government can label us as seditious. In that case, the police’s full force, the national guard, and even the military can be brought down upon our heads to silence our voices.

But when armed white supremacists shoot protestors, they are praised as patriots by those of like mind, from the incel in their parent’s basement to the accused rapist in the Oval Office. Or when boogaloo boys in their Hawaiian shirts show up to incite violence, or leftist whites attempt to co-opt the peaceful Black Lives Movement with the destruction of property. Instead, those standing in solidarity with those who reject being relegated to the underside of whiteness are the problem.

The general public is made to believe it’s us against them. Many embrace that those blessed with power, privilege, and profit are somehow being oppressed through gaslighting. Because those historically kept under heel demand dignity, many remain silent as democracy is eroded. A tempest storm is brewing as watchdogs of liberty are muzzled with accusations of fake news. Threatening clouds hover over our political system as the loyal opposition is portrayed as enemies of the people who want to destroy America.

Four years of division and divisiveness have placed our imperfect experiment of government by the people in peril. I genuinely fear that I will again become a political refugee in later years of my life – just like during the early years – fleeing a totalitarian government. Too, the government will label me a traitor because I choose to think for myself.

You do not have to agree with me, but your very freedom is threatened if you refuse to defend my right, no matter how wrong I might be, to disagree with you. Please join me in prayer – but more importantly, through the praxis of voting – to begin to repair the damage done over the past four years, which may take 40 to undo.

I was recently asked: How could good Christian Germans remain silent while Jews were being rounded up and genocide? My response was: “You are asking the wrong question. The correct question we must ponder is: ‘How could good Christian Americans remain silent while brown children are being separated from their parents and thrown in cages?’ Once we answer the latter, we can fully understand the former.”

Dr. Miguel De La Torre

DR. MIGUEL DE LA TORRE

Ilif School of Theology

A native of Cuba, Dr. De La Torre is a professor of Social Ethics and Latinx Studies, a scholar-activist, and an ordained Southern Baptist minister. He has authored more than 20 books.

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