December 11, 2021
Subject: Postmodernism is Taking a Hit – The Death of the “Defund the Police” Movement
Isaiah 59:14b “Truth has fallen in the street;” John 18:38 “Pilate said to Jesus, ‘What is truth?’”
“I was never pessimistic enough to think that things would generate to the point where adult human beings are talking about getting rid of the police, reducing the number of police, reducing the resources put into police work when murder rates have been skyrocketing over what they were just a year ago in 2019.”
These are the words of Professor Thomas Sowell, Senior Fellow on Public Policy at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution who has written 45 books on the social effects of race, culture and discrimination. He earned his degrees in Economics from Harvard (BA), Columbia (MA), and University of Chicago (PhD).
He is regarded as America’s leading intellectual on culture and race because he uses facts and data to get at the truth. The above quote is from his June 2020 interview with Mark Levin, just after the murder of George Floyd by a police officer. Sowell has more to say: “This is madness. What is frightening is how many people in responsible positions are caving in to every demand. It reminds me of the propaganda tactics of the Nazi Joseph Goebbels, where he said people will believe any lie if it’s repeated long enough.
That’s what we’re getting. For example, ‘systemic racism’ has no meaning that can be specified and tested in the way that one tests hypotheses. It’s one of many words that even people who use it don’t know what they’re saying. The purpose is to have other people caving in.”
What would cause responsible people to “cave in” to demands that are, in Sowell’s words, madness? It is the decades-long influence of Postmodernism, a cultural worldview where people no longer believe objective truths exist and instead embrace relativism, where all truth is relative to a person’s situation, culture, or language. With relativism, a truth can be true and binding for one person, while not for another.
Violent riots broke out because of the situation surrounding George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis, erupting into a full-scale attack on law enforcement with the chant to defund them before any facts could were presented to verify police “systemic racism.” Dr. Sowell couldn’t believe responsible people fell for this.
He goes on to compare America today with postmodern Rome at its collapse: “The Roman Empire overcame many problems in its long history, but eventually it reached the point where it simply could no longer continue on, and much of that was from within not just the Barbarians attacking from outside.”
Mark Levin responded to Sowell: “In an 1819 letter back and forth between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, Jefferson says, ‘I’ve been thinking about Rome, and I’ve been thinking about America. The Romans could never have come up with any kind of government to save itself because the people lost their virtue. But the United States is different.’ But what we see in the streets, what we hear in academia, what we see on media, is not virtue. There is no kind of government that can protect us from ourselves.”
In our verse from John 18:38, Pontius Pilate, Rome’s Procurator in Jerusalem, is responding to Jesus Christ with the typical Postmodern answer – “what is truth?” – when Jesus tells him that He came “to bear witness to the truth” (John 18:37). Rome was in such a state of decline that their leading philosophers, historians and politicians record that “Philosophy and religion had been tried and found wanting. The only religion insisted on by the State was the deification of the emperor. Absolute right did not exist. Might was right. Society could not reform itself. All around, despair, conscious need, and unconscious longing.”
But, on November 3rd, we witnessed a major hit against postmodernism in of all places Minneapolis, the city where George Floyd died. Voters rejected a ballot to “end the Minneapolis Police Department” because of their concerns with the rise in gun violence. In other words, the citizens of Minneapolis trust their safety to their police because it is a self-evident, objective truth that when you have a police department, the criminals won’t rule and people are safe. Dr. Sowell must feel encouraged. Responsible people didn’t cave.
In our other verse this week, the prophet Isaiah describes Jerusalem just before it is taken captive by Assyria. There is no truth, no justice, because sinfulness is rampant throughout the city as everyone “turns to their own way” (Isaiah 53:6). But it is into this world that Isaiah describes the future Redeemer will come, who brings salvation and truth (Isaiah 59:15-20). Jesus Christ, in John 18:37, is the fulfillment of God’s promise in Isaiah. While Postmodernism took a hit this past month, it must be the objective truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to turn America back to repent of their sins and embrace Christ as Savior and Lord.
Ed Croteau is a resident of Lee’s Summit and hosts a weekly study in Lees Summit called “Faith: Substance and Evidence.”