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Local Attorney Calls Me a Noted Flaming Liberal and I Feel Warm All Over

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Several years ago, I posted a letter I wrote to the editor of the Defiance Crescent-News about black Defiance College football players kneeling for the National Anthem to social media.

Here’s what I wrote:

Dear Editor,

I write to lend my support to the Defiance College football players who have knelt during the playing of the national anthem. I commend them for their courage, knowing that most local residents oppose their actions. Their continued protest has brought calls for discipline, including expulsion from school. I commend college administrators and coaches for not bowing to public pressure to silence protest. These students, along with their counterparts in professional sports, need to be heard. Their protests have nothing to do with respect for the military or flag.

What lies behind their kneeling is inequality, injustice, and racism. While these issues might seem to locals to be the problems of urban areas, the truth is that we denizens of rural Northwest Ohio have our own problems related to these things. I recently participated in a forum discussion on racism in Northwest Ohio. Having lived most of my sixty years of life in this area, I can say with great certainty that we are not immune from charges of racism and injustice. We may hide it better, covering it with white, middle-class Christian respectability, but it exists, nonetheless.

Years ago, my family and I walked into a church towards the end of the adult Sunday school class. Teaching the class was a matronly white woman — a pillar of the church. She was telling the class that her grandson was not getting playing time on the college football team because blacks got all the playing time. She reminded me of a retired white school teacher I knew when I lived in Southeast Ohio. At the time, we had a black foster daughter. I had just started a new church in the area, and we were looking for a house to rent. This school teacher had a house available, so we agreed to rent it. When it came time to pick up the keys, she told us she decided to rent to someone else. We later learned that she said she wasn’t going to have a ni***r living in her house.

These stories are apt reminders of what lies underneath our country respectability. It is time we quit wrapping ourselves in the flag, pretending that racism, inequality, and injustice doesn’t exist. Our flag and anthem represent many things, but for many Americans, they represent oppression and denial of human rights; and it is for these reasons, among others, that players kneel.

Bruce Gerencser

Ney, Ohio

Many white — we’re not racists — locals have been in an uproar over the players not kneeling. In their minds, the players are disrespecting veterans and the flag — regurgitating Donald Trump’s lie. Never mind that the players say their protest is about inequality, injustice, and racism — locals know better. The faux outrage has reached hysterical levels on social media — especially on two local Facebook groups.

As is my custom, not wanting to waste my time trying to change the hearts and minds of people who already think they know everything, I stayed out of the discussions. One discussion, however, was so egregious that I decided to say my piece. Here are several screenshots of my short interaction with a local lawyer. Enjoy!

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Just another day in rural, white, Christian, Trumpist northwest Ohio

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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    He forgot to say “fat”, lol; they usually love saying that

    Bastards. What an ass; don’t know how you take living in that area; I would go batshit crazy

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      Becky Wiren

      I don’t live too far from Bruce. But then again, I’m not involved in any social groups in the area. Bruce is well known since he grew up in the area and was a noted pastor. Plus he’s braver than I am.

      The funny thing is, the paper Bruce writes his letters to is very GOP friendly. I live in the next county and our paper is pretty balanced. I get more irked at the Toledo Blade for having a definite pro-Trump bias.

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    Wow he doesn’t even address your claims just dismisses them. Obviously if you cant win an argument the best thing to do is call someone a name and run away. Cowardice, thy name is (sorry but bruce blocked out this wonderful shining example of christian loves name)

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    As a Brit I see an irony. My perception of right wingers, and it’s a generally held view I think, is that they are motivated by their guts, never mind the facts. So when it comes to religion they (not all, but a big proportion) don’t accept the reality of evolution, or think Adam and Eve were real, or think the exodus and the flood really happened. They believe ridiculous conspiracy theories that claim the moon landings were faked, that the government was responsible for 9/11, or that the earth is flat. They think that you can reduce gun crime by buying more guns, and they have no way of even understanding where to start in establishing whether something is true or ‘fake’.

    I’ve never heard of liberals being in these camps, though I daresay there will be exceptions. So when it comes to players kneeling to make a point, republicans see only that their pre-conceived opinions, no matter how illogical, are being challenged.

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      Geoff, I have to offer a dissenting opinion here. There are actually many people who are conservative/libertarian in their political views who are not also fundamentalist Christians.

      Also, I have to confess that I feel that to combat racial injustice in the country by kneeling during the National |Anthem is extremely unwise. It seems to me to be alienating the very people that these young men want to speak to the most.

      And, I have to be honest. It just does not sit right with me either. I would not refuse to stand during any nation’s playing of their country’s anthem. It could easily be construed at the very least, as a sign of disrespect.

      Do I think people should be persecuted for this, or lose their employment? No. They have the freedom in our country to speak in this way. But, I can’t personally agree.

      Also, if I’m understanding correctly, what seemed to spark this whole protest was the acquittal of the police officers in the tragic death of an African-American man while in police custody. He was being transported in a police van.

      Again, I could certainly be wrong, but I’m far from convinced that this judicial decision had anything to do at all with racism. If I recall, a significant number of the police officers involved were themselves African-American.

      I’ve thought about this issue more deeply since a sermon was preached in my church basically supporting the view that most of the commentators have shared here. I had one of the dissenting opinions.

      As I say though, I’m open to a mind change if I’m mistaken in this.

      • Avatar
        Bruce Gerencser

        Alan Miller ,

        Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy

        — Proverbs 31:8-9

        Do not exploit the poor because they are poor and do not crush the needy in court, for the Lord will take up their case and will exact life for life.

        — Proverbs 22:22-23

        Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, “Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you”—when you already have it with you.

        — Proverbs 3:27-28

        A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.

        — Proverbs 11:25

        It is a sin to despise one’s neighbor, but blessed is the one who is kind to the needy.

        — Proverbs 14:21

        Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.

        — Proverbs 14:31

        Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.

        — Proverbs 19:17

        The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.

        — Proverbs 22:9

        Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses.

        — Proverbs 28:27

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          Thus saith the Lord; For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they sold the righteous for silver, and the poor for a pair of shoes;

          —Amos 2:6

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        Rebecca, I feel you need to know that originally, Colin Kapernick simply stayed sitting on the bench to protest while the Anthem was played. After speaking with a veteran who was offended by this behavior, he started taking a knee, at the vetern’s suggestion. I find it exceedingly odd that taking a knee is suddenly a sign of disrespect rather than a sign of *deeper* respect, which is what the vet told Kapernick. Kapernick is calling on this nation to live up to it’s ideals, or at least move in that direction. I do not find this disrespectful of our nation at all, but rather a calling out of an area deserving of our shame.

        The man in the van was named Freddie Grey, from Baltimore Maryland. I do not know if it was the acquittal of those involved in his death that sparked Kapernick’s protest, but Mr. Gray is only one of a long string of unnecessary deaths at the hands of this nation’s police. That is what this protest is about– equal protection under the law. If we truly want to honor our country and the ideals I was taught it stands for, we should all be taking a knee until we come far closer to the ideal that all men (and women) are created equal. Currently, black men and boys in America never know if they are going to receive any (let alone equal) protection under our laws and judicial system, or need protection from those we charge to enforce it.

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          I did not know about his conversation with the veteran. Thank you, Anotherami. That actually does put this in a different light for me.

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            You are most welcome, Rebecca. I thought it might. Thank you for being willing to listen. You have given me one more thing to be thankful for this Thanksgiving morning.

            When I was 15, I had the honor of playing in a small band for a Memorial Day Service at a monument to veterans at a local cemetery. It was 1975 and a WWI vet attended. The ceremony ended with Taps and this bent old man went to one knee, his old uniform hat crumpled in one gnarled hand, a firm grip on his cane in the other. When it was finished, he laid his cane against his knee and pulled his hankie out of his pocket to wipe his eyes before another band member helped him to his feet. He then shook the hand of every band member there, to thank us for coming and for remembering his fallen fellows. This is what I see those who kneel now doing, remembering fellow citizens who have unjustly fallen at the hands of our police and to call on us all to do better, to *be* a better nation and continue to inch forward in the perfection of our United States.

            May everyone have a Happy Thanksgiving.

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      Bruce Gerencser

      In this same discussion thread, a man demanded evidence for claims of racial injustice, inequality, and police brutality. I provided him with all the necessary data — even threw in some Bible verses — and he rejected it out of hand, saying my sources were not reliable. I told him, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. Systemic ignorance is a big problem in rural white America.

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        Bruce, as I understand the wingnut mind, the more facts you place in front of them the harder they cling to their preconceived emotions.

        Mental Health 101 is learning that emotions are subjective and do not always represent reality. Sounds like most of the population in the USA needs a couple of rounds of therapy.

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          Bruce Gerencser

          Polly and I were talking about this very thing tonight. My counselor told me we all have archetypes that govern our lives. We are, by nature, reticent to facts/evidence that challenges our archetypes, often responding emotionally, not rationally. Just today I had a man who lives in my town demand evidence (on Facebook) for my claim that people of color face injustice, inequality, and racism — the very evidence I provided Becky above. He replied, without looking at it, “the sources were suspect.” I replied, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. 🙂

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    This attorney must have had quite a hard time passing the bar exam as he cannot seem to make a rational argument supporting his views. Unless, “Thanks you are so disgusting” is now an appropriate rebuttal to use in court that will completely sway a jury and judge to consider your argument’s validity.

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    If I could kneel, I would take a knee in honor of Tamir Rice. Today is the third anniversary of his death. I watched the tape. He was a kid, being a kid. The cops didn’t assess, they drove up and killed him. No opportunities to stand down that I’ve seen countless cops give countless hostile white males.

    I’m embarrassed for my country. We can do better. We have to do better.

    And for the record, Colins’ protest was winding down until Lord Dampnut tweeted attitude and shade all over the place. It was like throwing water on a grease fire. Kaboom!!!!

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    It’s 2022, and many more people of color have been unjustly killed by police. And right-wingers still are upset over how many sports teams worldwide have worn Black Lives Matter slogans on their jerseys and taken a knee. Since video of the killing of George Floyd at the hands (knee) of police has shown just one disturbing example of how people of color have been treated in the US, attention has been brought worldwide.

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