Surely you’re seen the news of the terrible massacre in Buffalo, N.Y. A white teenager published a screed on social media about “replacement theory,” armed himself to the teeth, drove hours to a Black neighborhood grocery story, and opened fire. He killed 10 people, all Black, and wounded two white victims.
This killing was well-planned. The 180-page “manifesto” was timed to publish online just before the shooting, according to news reports. Payton S. Gendron, 18, drove 230 miles from his home to accomplish his evil act. Like those before him, Dylann Roof, James Hodgkinson, and others, this person was acting with malice and intent, not some lunatic following voices in his head. Gendron’s history, reported by the AP, makes no secret of his beliefs and willingness to use violence.
The hot takes abound. Many want to lay this at the feet of Tucker Carlson, who has railed about the demographic shift of America, and some Democrats political belief in the inevitability of demographics.
We know these ideas are floating out there. We also know that, disturbingly, “replacement theory” is being mainstreamed on the right. We all remember that Fox News segment from April 2021 where Tucker Carlson openly and emphatically defended replacement theory with nutty metaphors like “well, what if you were a kid and you and your siblings saw your parents adopt a bunch of new kids, give them more stuff and treat them better, huh?”
Others like Glenn Greenwald, punt the entire issue of media and political responsibility for mass killings as “madness.” Greenwald cites many of the Black nationalist violent shootings of police officers and others, regarding the media’s reaction.
It is virtually impossible to find any ideology on any part of the political spectrum that has not spawned senseless violence and mass murder by adherents.
I suppose that’s true. But the violence really isn’t senseless.
We live in a criminal age, where the confluence of our modern convenient society, abundance of practically everything, and idle time for the young, old, and disaffected to immerse themselves in political, quasi-religious, media, or cultic garbage.
Maybe Tucker Carlson can provide some explanatory value to why a white teenager would try to start a race war, but in reality, I don’t think it’s insanity. That’s a cop-out. Evil people are very sane; they’re just evil, anti-social, greedy, self-interested and depraved.
In a third-world country, Liberia, General Butt Naked built an army of young teenagers who were willing to kill, and even commit acts of cannibalism. Joshua Milton Blahyi was an evil man.
As many as twenty thousand child soldiers fought in the Liberian civil war, serving as spies, sentries, and human minesweepers. Many were forcibly conscripted, sometimes at gunpoint. Others joined out of desperation, seeking food or physical protection. Many of Blahyi’s “small soldiers” were as young as nine. According to some accounts, Blahyi mashed cocaine into their food and showed them Jean-Claude Van Damme movies, meant to demonstrate that “war was just an act.” He told me, “I tried to uproot the fear of death.”
In a just society, Blahyi would be executed without a second’s hesitation. But he lives.
In Mexico, drug lords have armies that rival the Mexican military. They employ the most grisly methods. Mass killings and beheadings are almost commonplace in some areas. In Ethiopia’s Tigray region, a genocidal campaign by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), funded by China and Russia, has covered up mass graves.
“On 4 April, the Amhara militias and the Fano [militia] youth group exhumed the remains. They gathered wood, sprayed something we never saw before and burned the remains they collected. The remains crumbled and turned into ash.”
In the countries, the mass killings are clear in their motive: Power. In America, when Black Lives Matters peaceful protestors are infiltrated by gangs, the motivation for riots is clear: Larceny. The people who start throwing rocks through store windows simply want to steal things. They are common criminals.
In Ukraine, when Russian troops rape, torture, and kill civilians without any restraint, the motivation is clear: Domination. Russian troops are trained in submission and domination by the most brutal tactics, known as dedovshchina. This is how they know to fight. In that, they’re no better than General Butt Naked’s killer kids, except they wear better uniforms.
The motivation for criminals isn’t a new thing. Those who sit high and mighty in news rooms, political offices, and television studios can’t evade responsibility for providing tinder for the fires we’re seeing. The difference in America is that instead of being the rule, our mass violence is a shocking reminder of how criminal and evil the world itself can be.
Even in peaceful Canada, or England, or the Netherlands, the evil can surface. This isn’t a measure of the availability of guns. A machete or knife works too.
In California, at a church filled with retired Taiwanese Christians, whose average age is 80, a killer was subdued and hogtied with an electrical cord after shooting and killing one man and wounding five. We don’t know the motive yet, but I say it’s irrelevant, as is young Gendron’s motive. They are criminals who refuse to bow to the call of mankind to treat each other with love and respect.
The human condition is in the criminal age. I do know there is an answer and that there is redemption.
The Bible has something to say here.
2 Timothy 3:
3 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents,ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7 Therefore do not be partners with them.
Joshua Blahyi still lives in Liberia, but he is no longer General Butt Naked. He has been redeemed by faith in Jesus Christ. Now, he preaches the Gospel.
Blahyi stalked the aisle, beating his chest, his shirt translucent with sweat. “I am a bit different from many people,” he said. “Even though it is impossible, I still know that Jesus love me.” He wiped his face with a white cloth. “When Jesus met me, I was wicked on the street and destroyed the life of an innocent child, and He called me His son!”
The criminal age cannot be wiped out by government policies. It can only be countered the acceptance of the human spirit as corrupted by sin, and offered the forgiveness of a loving savior.
It’s not Christians or church that convert people. People in the church are capable of evil just as anyone else. It is only a relationship with the supernatural, the Person of the Son of God, who can transform a soul.
One day the criminal age will end, and true justice will come in the form of the return of Christ. Before that happens, persecution, evil, and the betrayal of many by people in the church will come. Each time we see evil surface, remember that only by faith, study and relationship can we fight the unseen battle in the spiritual realm.
I pray for the victims of the latest shooting. I pray for their families and for the officers who have to break horrible news to relatives. I also pray for the evil people who do such acts. There is no answer for evil except to know that it is the absence of good, and that God is good.
This will not come about by our effort. As the prophet Zechariah wrote: “‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord almighty.”
Until that time, we must contend with the criminal age, and those who enable the criminals. May they all come to repentance.
Follow Steve on Twitter @stevengberman.
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