Last week, readers were treated with the following call to anarchy and revolution with the headline: “Only riots, burning result in action.” The headline was associated with an opinion column written by Lloyd Omdahl, North Dakota Democrat officeholder of yesteryear. The provocative title was meant to be controversial. Understandably, it is challenging to attract and retain readers so writers may engage in hyperbole now and then.
However, Omdahl writes with a distinction few others in local media possess – he was formerly the second highest ranking executive responsible for upholding enforcement of North Dakota’s law. Therefore, when he advocates destruction leading to criminality as the only reasonable method for cultivating a moral society, he is particularly culpable for broadcasting bad ideas.
He writes, “As a Christian, I am supposed to be for peace, not rioting and looting. But some days I feel like pacifist Pastor Bonhoeffer who abandoned pacifism to help kill Adolf Hitler.” One might ask the obvious question, how did that work out for Bonhoeffer? Hitler killed himself on a timetable of his own choosing, Bonhoeffer was hanged. Bonhoeffer’s contribution to the world was not his reluctant, marginal involvement in an assassination conspiracy; rather, it was the beauty of his contemplative writings born from years of identifying with the sufferings of Christ.
Omdahl equates demonstrations, riots and burning to, “raw force, the only weapons minorities have to shift power and resources.” The crux of his argument: if you are not caucasian the system will not work for you and the only option is to take the system by force. Martin Luther King Jr. disavowed use of violence as a means of achieving a just society, but apparently Omdahl, who couldn’t achieve meaningful change as a high elected officeholder, has superior knowledge compared with the greatest civil rights organizer of our nation’s history.
If Omdahl is racked with pain from a considerable weight of compassion for underprivileged minority youth, I have a suggested antidote – give generously to scholarships for underprivileged youth and if that doesn’t ease the suffering immediately, keep giving. Eventually the malady which fuels desire to see property burned and looted will subside.
Given a choice, the masses of underprivileged people would prefer empowerment over empathy.