On September 16, 1932, in a jail cell in India, Mahatma, meaning “Great Soul”, Gandhi, began a “fast unto death”, protesting the British government’s imposition of an electoral caste system on India which would unfairly divide India’s social classes. His hunger strike helped emancipate the lower caste, whom he referred to as “Children of God.” He said, “This is a God-given opportunity... to offer my life as a final sacrifice to the downtrodden.”
Throughout his life, Gandhi used peaceful protests, and hunger strikes to bring freedom and justice to the people of his country. His final hunger strike in January, 1948, brought an end to a civil war between the Hindus and the Muslims in newly liberated India. Less than two weeks later, he was assassinated on his way to a prayer meeting. Gandhi lived a life of poverty and self-sacrifice, as a fidelity to the cause of peace, justice and national unity. He made his own clothes and chose to dress like a peasant, even when he met with British Royalty and the Pope, believing it would be disrespectful to those he was fighting for to dress differently.
In 2021, our crusaders of peace and justice take a different approach than Gandhi. The causes they fight for have become avenues of wealth, fame, and self-indulgence. One the founders of Black Lives Matter, Patrisse Khan-Cullors, recently purchased a $1.4 million home in an exclusive predominantly white neighborhood in Los Angeles, and has purchased a total of four homes worth in excess of $3.2 million since founding BLM. In October, she signed a multi-platform deal with Warner Bros. In 2020, Black Lives Matter took in more than $90 million, but the 10 BLM chapters around the country, “have received little to no financial support from BLMGN since the launch in 2013,” and less than 5% of the money has gone to initiatives to help black lives.
BLM has led many of the “peaceful protests” over the last 12 months which consisted of burning buildings, destruction of property and looting stores. They believe that the best path to justice and peace is stealing thousands of dollars of merchandise from stores and business owners, many of whom are people of color that had nothing to do with the injustice they’re supposedly fighting.
Gandhi chose truly peaceful protests, and was willing to lie down his life for the cause. But protesting for justice in America has become a regular cottage industry for the leaders and the protesters alike. Who needs a job, when there are “peaceful protests” to get that new flatscreen TV, stereo, or pair of Nikes?
We can’t really blame them when “middle class” Joe Biden became a multi-millionaire, owning several mansions, as a result of his public service, and Barack Obama parlayed his Presidency into a net worth of over $70 million, and a $12 million home on Martha’s Vineyard. Why should Patrisse Khan-Cullors be any different? I doubt Gandhi would’ve had the same impact if he were caught on video looting a store or fire-bombing a car, and then moved into a mansion. Like Gandhi, maybe it’s necessary to live like those you claim represent to gain the credibility to represent them. It is hard to claim moral authority against inequality shouting down from the balcony of your million-dollar home, especially when your millions have been gained off your “fight for equality”.
Gandhi laid down his life for the cause of justice and equality. Abraham Lincoln was assassinated as a result of his fight to emancipate the slaves. Martin Luther King Jr was beaten, jailed, and also gave his life for the cause of civil rights. Over 9,000 eighteen, nineteen and twenty-year old Americans were killed storming Normandy and Omaha beach on D-Day, liberating Europe from totalitarianism. And the ones who survived didn’t get to purchase million-dollar homes.
But virtue comes really cheap these days, a well-worded tweet, a clever Facebook post is all you need to gain the moral authority. Who needs hunger strikes, or prison terms when you have a smart phone? The woke mob hides behind their screens fighting the battle for “justice” with computer keys, assuming as much at bodily risk as they do when they play “Call of Duty”. It is difficult to accurately gauge what is justice when assuming no risk.
Our celebrity class risks nothing in their fight for their vision of justice. LeBron James storms the Twittersphere with temerity, and then retreats to his $40 million mansion with his only risk of injury being dislocating his shoulder from aggressively patting himself on the back, hoping that his “activism” will help make him the GOAT. Meagan Markel fought injustice from a $14 million mansion by speaking to a billionaire. Colin Kaepernick’s martyrdom took the form of a $40 million Nike contract.
This fight for virtue has bled over into the entertainment industry. On Sunday night, billionaire actor, and producer Tyler Perry signaled his virtue by saying, “My mother taught me to refuse hate. She taught me to refuse blanket judgment... I refuse to hate someone because they are Mexican or because they are Black or white or LGBTQ. I refuse to hate someone because they are a police officer. I refuse to hate someone because they are Asian... Stand in the middle ’cause that’s where healing happens. That’s where conversation happens. That’s where change happens.”
It all sounds very good, and is well-intended, but there is a lot to unpack. He says, “refuse blanket judgement” which is right, but his speech is filled with blanket judgements. His need to lecture the American people about refusing hate is a false assumption and an unsupported judgement that the majority of American people chose to hate each other based on race or ethnicity. Most Americans are loving, caring, compassionate people who reject racism and bigotry in all its forms. Who out there is teaching that we should hate each other based on race, ethnicity, religion? Is there an example, other than maybe purveyors of Critical Race Theory? That’s why they talk about “micro-aggressions” and “implicit bias”, and there have been numerous hate-crime hoaxes recently because the incidents of racism are so small, and caused primarily by the extreme fringe who he wouldn’t use that platform to talk to anyway.
The hate that he sees permeating society originates from the political and cultural elite of which he is a part. His speech should not have been directed at the average citizen but at the influential class, his class. Where was his “refuse hate speech” during the BLM and Antifa riots of 2020? Where was he the previous 4 years when the Academy Awards was used as a platform to dole at hate to our then-sitting President? It is only now when Tyler Perry’s party is in power, that he preaches “refuse hate”, and wants everyone to hold hands, and sing Kumbaya.
He says, “Stand in the middle ’cause that’s where healing happens. That’s where conversation happens.” He is suggesting that we can only get along and not hate each other if we are in the middle, if we all think alike. It is an assumption that if we have different opinions, opposite points of view, we will automatically hate each other. So much for embracing diversity. And where is this middle that he refers to? Who gets to define the middle where there is no hate? Does Tyler Perry get to set out the parameters of the middle? How much of our beliefs are we going to have to sacrifice to fit into that middle?
This is where our country has gone completely off the rails. We used to be able to have political discussions where we took opposing points of view, and afterwards remained friends. Tyler Perry has completely missed the point. The hate in our society is not interracial nor is it due to our different religions or lifestyles. The hate comes from our different politics. Talk to Candace Owens, Tim Scott, Ben Carson about the origin of the hate they receive. It is not racial. It’s solely political. Caitlyn Jenner said, “I have gotten more flak for being a conservative Republican than I have for being trans.” If you are conservative, you will be hated, regardless of your skin color, gender, religion, or lifestyle. Every conservative opinion is recast as racist, sexist, or homophobic by the political elite on the left which creates a false narrative that America is a racist, sexist and homophobic country. Even Martin Luther King Jr’s dream of people not being “judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character” is now portrayed as racist because it works against their narrative, and their desire to use race as a currency for equity.
So, when Tyler Perry says we need to move to the middle, he is not asking AOC or George Clooney to modify their positions and move to the right, he’s telling Ted Cruz and Clint Eastwood to abandon conservatism, and move left of center. Why can’t AOC, George Clooney, Ted Cruz and Clint Eastwood all believe what they believe, and no one hate each other? That is the better way of engaging in political discourse as opposed to shoehorning everyone into a box that Tyler Perry wants to label as “the middle” forcing everyone to think alike, so no one hates each other. Why is diversity of thought less valuable to maintain and celebrate than diversity of race or ethnicity?
When the different religious factions pushed back against Gandhi’s fight for a unified India, he said, “I am a Muslim, and a Hindu, and a Christian, and a Jew, and so are all of you… When you wave those flags and shout, you send fear into the hearts of your brothers.” Of course, he was not all of those religions, he simply was making the point that our shared humanity transcends our differences, even religious differences. The Bible puts it this way, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Gal 3:26
There are powerful political factions in our country that only see white, black, brown, yellow, red, Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Atheist. They slice and dice us by race, ethnicity, and creed, and we are diminished for it. The full expanse of our humanity cannot be obtained within those narrow boxes. We, as individuals, and we, as a human race, will never be able to reach our full potential if we are forced to sacrifice who we are, and at the same time be defined solely by the things that are meant to divide us.
Judd Garrett is a former NFL player, coach, and executive. He is a frequent contributor to the website Real Clear Politics. He has recently published his first novel, No Wind.