Or, how to start a persecution complex.
And so it begins. A close and highly-contested election draws to a close, and the vitriol continues at a much more sinister level because now, those haters of free speech and diversity feel empowered and — dare I say it — affirmed. “Disagree with me, and I will make you go away.” And it’s all right, because “we won.” “I don’t like anybody who doesn’t like me,” as tyrant Anthony Fremont would say before sending dissenters to the cornfield.
I take issue with this attitude, first because it is simply rude and dismissive. As a firm believer in the Constitution (the document, not the frigate), I also defend the right of anyone to exercise their freedom of speech. If I don’t like what they say, I am free not to listen. I am free to walk away. I am equally free to disagree, and to say so. And lastly, I am free to vote for someone else.
And what does any of this have to do with Facebook, a tool that I use primarily to keep in touch with distant friends (most of whom share my political views), faraway relatives (most of whom do not share my political views), and a few friends with whom I simply agree to disagree? When I freely expressed my hurt, dismay, and disappointment at the election results, one of my far right friends said she wouldn’t want to lose a friend over politics. Another particularly far right and vocal anti-liberal said rather eloquently that my politics aren’t what she loves about me. In short, when you care about someone, you learn to balance tolerance with acceptance. You choose your battles because friendship is bigger than politics. (Just look at Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia — they shared a legendary friendship though polar opposites on the political spectrum!)
My oldest friend, though, posted a rather unusual quotation on my Facebook wall. Because she is a devout Christian, her unfettered support of Donald Trump surprised me nearly as much as her toxic hatred of Hillary Clinton. We had a brief discussion on social media — we have, after all, been friends for decades. In this discussion, I questioned Mr. Trump’s ethics. Her response surprised me even more than her adulation of the president-elect. “Because of Hillary Clinton, 51 million babies never had the chance to cry.” Really? This is all about abortion? And Hillary Clinton is personally responsible for 51 million abortions? If I were being honest, rather than avoiding an argument, I’d have responded that that was quite close to being the most ridiculous bit of propaganda I’ve ever heard, and it would take an idiot to repeat such nonsense. I chose my battles. I turned the other cheek.
I, too, am a devout Christian, but I don’t wear my faith on my sleeve. Jesus himself said “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?”, and I hope that the fruits of my life show where my faith lies. I also know that I need to work on my own house before I judge others, and until my house is clean, I don’t feel I have the right to put on my white gloves. And so, I posted a passage from the Bible, noting that surely, no one could take issue with that.
“Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4)
Was it meant to be tongue-in-cheek? Maybe a little, because I don’t have the courage to come out on a social media site and talk about what I see as apocalyptic overtones in these election results. What a nut job I would reveal myself to be, right? In truth, though, my faith leans toward radical discipleship, and I do in fact believe that Mr. Trump is the False Prophet in the book of Revelation. A prophet, by definition, is one chosen by God to speak for God in words divinely inspired. A false prophet, then, is one who subverts that definition. One who, perhaps, judges all Mexican people as “drug dealers and rapists,” or all Muslims as “radical terrorists.” A False Prophet can stir up the masses with lies and deception and get them to follow him like a Pied Piper. Give the False Prophet power, and that’s pretty apocalyptic. But I didn’t say that. I just posted a passage from the second letter to the Thessalonians, without a comment. I never mentioned Mr. Trump.
And what did my oldest friend post back to me?
“One of the truest signs of maturity is the ability to disagree with someone while still remaining respectful.” (Attributed to Dave Willis, and I confess to not knowing who he is.)
Where on earth did that come from? Was I disrespectful? My thoughts certainly were, but I thought quoting Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians was taking the high road. After all, anyone who reads it is free to decide what they want it to mean. I know what I meant, but I have no control over other people’s thoughts. More importantly, how mature and respectful is it to claim that Hillary Clinton singlehandedly aborted 51 million babies?
But I digress. The persecution complex.
This morning, I checked my Facebook page to find myself suspended for 60 days–to give the Facebook minions adequate time to “investigate.” Someone has filed a complaint. Of course the Facebook minions can’t tell me WHO lodged the complaint, but they can tell me what the issue was with my posts. Apparently someone thinks I am “disrespectful, divisive, immature, and a potential threat to national security.” And Facebook assures me that they take this very seriously.
But even if I were, isn’t it my constitutional right to be? Couldn’t the complainant just do the 21st century version of walking away and “unfriend” me?
Who on earth would say such things about me? The only people who can see my Facebook page are people I allow to see it, so SOMEONE I KNOW has an agenda that I can’t even fathom. The words “disrespectful” and “immature” jump out at me because of my friend’s post. Could my oldest friend, who has known me since I still had my baby teeth, be the whistle-blower? The person who called me a “potential threat to national security?” (Believe me, if my quoting the Bible on Facebook is a potential threat to national security, we have bigger problems than anyone can imagine.)
Like Facebook, I too take this very seriously. Can I help it if, again, I see apocalyptic overtones in this behavior, if in fact she was the one who complained? The fact is, someone in my circle made the complaint, and I have no doubt that the complaint was made to teach me a lesson for the way I voted and for my outspoken despair at the election results.
“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death.” (Matthew 10:21)
Have we come this far? I hope not. But if we have, it will only be 42 months:
“The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise its authority for forty-two months. It opened its mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. It was given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. (Revelation 13: 5-7)
I hope I’m wrong and this is just a brief bout with a minor persecution complex.