Dear White Friends
It’s only my white friends so far who have shared the Facebook posted “Candace Owen rant” (her word) with me. Every time it has happened so far it comes with a note about balance or fairness or the whole picture. I had never heard of Candace before so I watched the video. As I watched it I went through a spectrum of emotions from “this is crazy” to “this is sad” to “what the…?” I’m not going to post or link the video here because I find it so offensive INTELLECTUALLY and SPIRITUALLY.
But I will share some quotes from the 18 minute rant (her word) and some reflection on those quotes.
First though, let’s all make sure we are on the same page about Candace Owen. Who is Candace Owen? I had no idea. Do you? Am I the only person in America who has never heard of this young woman? Thankfully, Google is amazing at satisfying questions like this one. I encourage you to check her out. Let me say straight up that if you find Fox News “fair and balanced,” then you will definitely find Candace fair and balanced. She is a conservative pundit. She has recently written a book called, Blackout, in which she seeks to persuade African American Democrats to abandon that party in what she calls, Blexit, and join the Republican Party.
Wikipedia tells us that “She is known for her pro-Trump activism that began around 2016 after being initially very critical of Trump and the Republican Party, and her criticism of Black Lives Matter and of the Democratic Party. She worked for the conservative advocacy group Turning Point USA between 2017 and 2019 as their communications director.” According to the US-Sun, she is married to “George Farmer…the son of a baron, Lord Farmer, a former Conservative Party treasurer in the UK. The couple became smitten after meeting at the Royal Automobile Club in London, and he proposed to Owen just two weeks later…The pair married at Trump’s Winery in Virginia in 2019, with their guests wearing “Make America Great Again” headwear.” https://www.the-sun.com/news/936564/who-candace-owens-what-say-george-floyd/
It’s helpful to know what kind of bias people might have when they rant and start selectively offering facts and statistics all mixed into an opinion salad.
Just like this blog post.
So what did she say?
She begins by saying she feels a lot of pressure to jump on the bandwagon to declare George Floyd a martyr according to the popular narrative.
I haven’t heard ANYONE call George Floyd a martyr. She may be confusing “martyr” with “victim of lynching” but they aren’t the same thing. I turned to the Googler and I couldn’t find anyone there but Candace claiming Mr. Floyd as a martyr. It could be out there somewhere but it isn’t the popular narrative. Second, it’s disingenuous of her to suggest she is facing pressure to accept this narrative. Anyone who knows who she is, and I do now, would expect her to do exactly what she does in this rant. This is her m.o., her brand, her schtick, her thing. If she felt pressure from her base it would be to get a rant like this out and promote her brand. This video isn’t going against the flow, this is precisely the very message she has been promoting for – literally – years. In other words, she isn’t brave, she’s giving her fans what they want.
Sadly, Mr. George Floyd’s death just became an opportunity to say what she has already said but generate a lot more clicks from people who…well, honestly this is still a mystery to me, I’m not sure what would motivate people to pass along this self-described rant. Mr. Floyd, killed, unarmed on the street in Minneapolis by police can’t be allowed to rest in peace. She feels compelled to make sure we all know that Mr. Floyd is far from the perfect person everyone is making him out to be. She insists that he is being made out to be a hero – but I can’t find those articles or posts. I can find people who actually knew Mr. Floyd say positive things about him – is that equivalent to saying he lived “a heroic lifestyle?”
Having followed this story and now having Googled about it, I can’t find any instances of posts claiming he was a perfect person. I can find stories from people who knew Mr. Floyd personally at various points in his life who had some very nice things to say about him, about his faith in Jesus, about the positive influence he tried to exert in the lives of others, but I never found any articles that ascribed perfection to him. But is perfection or even near perfection what it takes to prove your life had enough value it didn’t deserved to be choked out of you?
But I’m getting ahead of Candace.
Candace sets up the Straw Man argument: You say he was a martyr, I will show you he was no martyr, he was a scoundrel! And then she starts taking apart the Straw Man. Candace calls him a martyr and seems to define ‘martyr’ as a person of character who dies on behalf of a people group. From there she spends most of the rest of the video making sure we all know about Mr. Floyd’s past transgressions and his violent crime.
But friends, no one but Candace is calling him a martyr. And NO ONE is saying he was without sin, without issues, without a criminal past or present. NO ONE. People who personally knew him, which Candace did not, have said lovely things about him and had some beautiful things to say about how he had made a positive impact on the lives of others. Can both things be true? Can a person have a criminal past, done various stints of time in prison, had a change and lived clean and out of trouble for a time and then had a slip and gone back into his or her addiction? I’ve met a lot through AA for whom both parts of this story were true.
One of my best friends died of a heroin overdose. He was part of our church. He’d done some really horrible things in his life. He had also done some very beautiful things, helped people and cared about the well being of others. Some months he was clean and sober and worshipped right beside me in church. Some months his old dealer stopped by offering free samples and he just couldn’t resist. Finally, after his dealer dropped by with another free sample after a few months of clean and sober living, my friend taste tested and in 48 hours he was dead.
When I stood up to conduct the funeral for my friend and I eulogized him, I didn’t pretend he lived or died as a perfect person. But when I shared some of my favorite memories of my friend at his funeral I didn’t feel compelled to balance the picture by telling people about his rap sheet, the wrongs he had done, even dying in his addiction, because they did not change who my friend was or the love he had given or received during his life.
But if you watch Candace’s rant, she’s building the case that George Floyd was a bad dude: lived that way, died that way. So…so what? So don’t mourn him? Don’t lament the loss of his life? Don’t cry out for the opportunity to get clean and sober again that he never got? Is the moral of our story really, once a criminal always a criminal? Not for Christians. It isn’t supposed to be.
But Candace Owen herself insists, “I want to be very clear what I am saying is not any defense for Derek Chauvin. I hope Derek Chauvin, gets the justice that he deserves to be implemented upon him and that the family of George Floyd deserves justice for the way that he that he died.” See how fair she is? Candace wants justice for Mr. Floyd, Yay, Candace! But she doesn’t want us to celebrate Mr. Floyd because he was a criminal through and through. Floyd was an addict. He was bad. He tried to use a fake bill to pay for something. “In my opinion,” she say, “he was a criminal.”
Whew! Thank you for clearing that up Candace. We can disregard all the positive things about Mr. Floyd now because drugs. We can ignore all the statements by people who actually knew him about his kindness and his character because he had a violent past. Why is this important? Because Candace wants to make sure we know that this person no one but her is claiming is a martyr and no one ever claimed was perfect had done some bad stuff and was high on something when his life was choked out of him. Because that makes us all feel better cause addicts and criminals don’t deserve better. She doesn’t have to say that, all she has to do is create that impression – which she does – and now we feel…better.
As she states at the end of her video, “I’m a big believer that no matter what color you are you do stupid things you win stupid prizes.” This is her BAZINGA! It’s her catchphrase and it resonates with her core.
Jesus’ catchphrase was “as I have loved you, so you also ought to love one another.” Even the addicts, and criminals, and jerks, and people who rant about the rap sheet of the recently deceased on Facebook.
But as she gets us all whipped up with her rapid fire delivery of the character defects of George Floyd, let’s take a breath and be real for a second. There are no white hats and black hats. People are complicated. King David had Bathsheba brought up to his place for a little adultery and had her husband murdered to cover it all up. People are complicated and a scoundrel can also be a man after God’s own heart. If you’re a Christian and her portrayal of Mr. Floyd’s character makes any difference to you at all then you have completely missed the plot of the story we say we believe. Pick one – Peter, violent racist. Abraham, where should we start on his character defects? Paul, executioner of followers of Jesus. The one thing we have in common, being created as the image of God. It’s the one thing that we have going for us – my addictions might not be yours, my issues might not be shared by you but friends, everyone you know knows you got issues. Me too. Please, dear God, don’t have any of my children stand up at my funeral and list all the ways I failed them as a parent and a human being. I’ve seen the list. I wrote it.
The only other point she makes then is a rather big one which she attempts to use statistics to support. Her other big thesis: “so here are some numbers for you people that are still believing that police brutality is a real racially motivated police brutality is a real thing…” She insists racially motivated police brutality is not a real thing.
She offers statistics to prove her point.
Let’s see if we can do that too.
US News and World Report, June 3, 2020 headline read, “Deaths From Police Harm Disproportionately Affect People of Color.” The article states, “In fact, people of color were more likely to be the victims of this harm in 2019 than they were in 2014. In 2019, 54% of those who died as a result of harm from police and whose race was identified were people of color – including Asian, Black, Hispanic, Native American and Pacific Islander individuals – compared to 50% in 2014.” It concludes with this observation, “Despite the increased attention, only about 1% of police officers involved with these deaths are charged with a crime and even less are convicted, according to Mapping Police Violence.”
And you’re like, but you can find a statistic to support anything. And I’m like, right?
How about this one? Black Americans 2.5X More Likely Than Whites to Be Killed By Police. Headline on staista.com for June 2, 2020. Or maybe this one? Minneapolis Police Use Force Against Black People at 7 Times the Rate of Whites from the New York Times, June 3, 2020. That article, from the city Mr. Floyd was choked to death in, says, “About 20 percent of Minneapolis’s population of 430,000 is black. But when the police get physical — with kicks, neck holds, punches, shoves, takedowns, Mace, Tasers or other forms of muscle — nearly 60 percent of the time the person subject to that force is black. And that is according to the city’s own figures.”
I think Myth Busters would call this one CONFIRMED.
It’s funny what we can do with facts and statistics isn’t it?
So, to wrap this, what have I been trying to say? 1) We need to find out who is selling us and what they usually try to sell. Candace Owen’s rant appears to be coming from some young black woman with a “fresh” perspective. But this is her brand and it’s not new. 2) No one deserves to be choked to death, including George Floyd according to Candace Owen – and no one deserves to have their failures and addictions and criminal record trotted out after they’ve died when they will have no chance to explain, defend or express their remorse or repentance for what they did – says anyone with a heart and a brain. And more importantly, anyone who has sinned and fallen short like me. Finally 3) Statistics seem so real and factual but we really have to be careful when we hear people roll them out quickly without offering any counter statistics that might round out the picture of the situation we are trying to understand or references to where theses statistics come from.
And that is all I have to say about that.