After he had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it.’” So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” They said, “The Lord needs it.” Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying,
“Blessed is the king
who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven,
and glory in the highest heaven!”
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.” Luke 19:28-40
Pilate then called together the chief priests, the leaders, and the people, and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was perverting the people; and here I have examined him in your presence and have not found this man guilty of any of your charges against him. Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us. Indeed, he has done nothing to deserve death. I will therefore have him flogged and release him.” Then they all shouted out together, “Away with this fellow! Release Barabbas for us!” (This was a man who had been put in prison for an insurrection that had taken place in the city, and for murder.) Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again; but they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!” A third time he said to them, “Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no ground for the sentence of death; I will therefore have him flogged and then release him.” But they kept urgently demanding with loud shouts that he should be crucified; and their voices prevailed. So Pilate gave his verdict that their demand should be granted. He released the man they asked for, the one who had been put in prison for insurrection and murder, and he handed Jesus over as they wished. Luke 23:13-25
Today I watched my very first “Anonymous” video.
Anonymous is a “hacktivist” group that protests against entities by hacking their websites, distributing their private information, or preventing access to their website/social media accounts. I know that I am simplifying this a great deal, and I encourage you to Google the group. You will find Wikipedia entries and YouTube videos and a number of articles in the press about them, especially in relation to Anonymous’ declaration of war against ISIS in the aftermath of the Paris attacks.
If you watch the videos, prepare to be stunned and disturbed.
I found myself watching a video from Anonymous because they recently hacked Donald Trump, revealing his cell phone number as well as some of his other personal data, posting on several websites. While they encouraged people to peruse the data and use it to fight Trump’s potential rise to power, the speaker for Anonymous did remind the viewers that each individual is responsible for their own actions. The video is a scathing indictment of Trump, based in Trump’s own behaviors and statements. Anonymous #OpWhiteRose I quote the early portion of the video:
The time has come for a movement morally strong enough to do battle against the forces of evil, bigotry, and fascism that have come to the forefront of this election cycle in the United States. Morality dictates a movement of those who can neither be bought nor sold; who will not compromise in defense of the innocent, regardless of their ethnicity, religion, or place of birth…one candidate in particular, Donald Trump, has set his ambitions on the white house in order to promote an agenda of fascism and xenophobia as well as the religious persecution of Muslims through totalitarian policies. He has proposed targeting family members of suspected terrorists for assassination even while acknowledging that they are innocent. He said that this will serve as a deterrent for terrorism when in fact it is terrorism itself and would only lead to more violence from those whose families were killed by the Trump regime.”
In itself, this was not disturbing because I have been watching the news. It’s not as if Anonymous is telling me anything new. And then:
“…to find an accurate comparison, we must look to the Gestapo of the Third Reich.”
Anonymous systematically compared Trump’s statements and behaviors to that of Hitler and the policies of his Third Reich…and then they encouraged the American people to join or form local chapters of the White Rose Society.
The White Rose Society was the student resistance movement formed in 1942 to fight Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist government that was called the Third Reich. White Rose Society
Apparently, chapters of the White Rose Society have been forming across the nation, with chapters showing up to protest at Trump rallies. Again, I quote:
“Imagine if the people of Germany…had risen up against Hitler during his failed campaign for office in 1932. Many of you have said to yourself that if you were alive in Nazi Germany that you would have done “something”, you would have resisted like the White Rose Society resisted. Now is the time to prove that. The White Rose Society has risen again in the US, they are at anti-Trump protests and rallies in support of their Muslim and Latino neighbors. You will recognize them by their wearing of a single white rose and their use of the #WhiteRoseRevolt on protest signs…we call on all of you…to stand with them and take action against Donald Trump and his new era of “Brown Shirt” terrorists assaulting protestors and trying to intimidate millions of peace loving people who happen to be a different color or religion. Seek out a White Rose Society chapter in your city or form one yourself.…now is the time to unite to fight fascism.”
I want to remind all of you that this Sunday is Palm Sunday, the day when Christians everywhere celebrate the triumphant entry of Jesus Christ into the city of Jerusalem. Palm Sunday marks the first day in Holy Week, a spiritual rollercoaster that includes the emotional highs of Palm Sunday and Easter combined with the sorrow and lament of Maundy Thursday (the Last Supper) and Good Friday. I call Holy Week a spiritual rollercoaster because this week always reminds me how easy it is to be singing praises on Sunday and screaming “Crucify him!” with the mob on Friday morning. I am no different than anyone else, and I am just as gullible and easily manipulated as everyone else, although I would prefer to think otherwise.
And of course, this brings me back to politics and the potential rise of fascism in the United States.
As Christians we need to remember that it was not that many years ago that a Lutheran pastor named Dietrich Bonhoeffer was executed for trying to kill Hitler. Bonhoeffer and his co-conspirators hatched a plot to try and kill Hitler (and they were almost successful) because they feared that nothing would stop Hitler from exterminating the Jews, Roma (Gypsies), the disabled, Polish people, Soviet war prisoners, homosexuals, anyone who was considered to be anti-social, Afro-Germans (blacks)…essentially, Bonhoeffer and his co-conspirators realized that the list of people who Hitler wanted exterminated just kept growing longer and longer. There comes a point when you must act or admit you are willing to go silently to your own slaughter. Sadly, none of these people chose to act until after Hitler had risen to power and fascism and fear had taken their places in the hearts of an entire nation.
Bonhoeffer chose to act and was unsuccessful. He was executed by the Germans for his crimes as were nine of his co-conspirators. The six most recognizable members of the original White Rose Society were all executed for their resistance to the Nazi regime. Resisting fascism after it rises appears to exact a very high cost.
Perhaps, as we head into that week where we all remember just how easily we can become a part of the angry, screaming mob that condemns an innocent man to death, we should consider being brave enough to resist fascism before we will have to lay our lives on the line to do so. Be brave enough to admit to yourself that you would have found yourself standing next to me screaming ‘Crucify him!’ with the rest of the crowd that horrible Friday in Jerusalem. We hate to admit it, but we are not as moral or spiritually strong as we think we are individually, and our nation is not as moral and strong as we like to think it is, either. Facism can happen here, just like it did in Germany…though the rise of a brilliant, morally corrupt orator who convinces the people that he can make the country great again. As if. We weren’t that great in the first place, or we wouldn’t need a Savior, you know?