Am I Racist for Criticizing Rioters?

Michael Brown holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University and has served as a professor at a number of seminaries. He is the author of 25 books and hosts the nationally syndicated, daily talk radio show, the Line of Fire.
Michael Brown holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University and has served as a professor at a number of seminaries. He is the author of 25 books and hosts the nationally syndicated, daily talk radio show, the Line of Fire.

I get called all kinds of names on a regular basis — from Hitler to homophobe and from pitiful to pathological — but I don't get called a racist all that much (unless, of course, I'm speaking against radical Islam, which somehow makes me a racist, as if Islam was a race and as if criticizing murderous religionists was unfair).

Last night was different, though, as I drew attention to the lawless rioters in Charlotte (near where I live), saying that this was not God's way and that it was not the way of justice. But since I didn't immediately assume that the police were guilty of killing an unarmed black man in cold blood — in other words, because I didn't immediately disbelieve a black police chief, a black police officer, and other (presumably black) eyewitnesses — I was not only lacking in compassion, I was a racist.

One commenter on my Facebook page stated that, "Brown is a racist and that is clear," explaining, "You are getting called out for being a racist. You have proven it time and time again with your posts. You see racist comments on here and you do nothing. That is because it is in your heart. Repent and leave God out of your foolishness!"

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For the record, I sometimes see as few as 1 out of every 100 (or 1,000) comments posted, since we get as many as 100,000 comments per week on our various social media posts (although our team removes extremely offensive or profane comments when they are spotted).

But my concern is that disagreement is now branded racism, that failure to affirm each and every grievance is perceived as racism, and that anything short of complete acceptance of the major, PC talking points is called racism.

So, it is not enough to immediately post reports about police shootings on my Facebook page, including both the Tulsa and Charlotte shooting, along with the breaking news report that the Tulsa officer had been charged with manslaughter.

It is not enough to constantly discuss race issues on my radio show, where black callers and guests share the challenges they have faced in America and where a black Charlotte pastor and seminary professor said this very week that there is still systemic racism in our country.

It is not enough to end articles with lines like this: "It's time for white Americans, like me, to stand side by side with black Americans, like [NFL star] Ben Watson, and say, 'Enough with our flawed system. We stand with you against injustice and discrimination, and we want to empower you, not enslave you. America will not thrive until you are thriving.'"

No, unless I immediately side against the police, unless I buy into the prevailing PC narrative, unless I speak no critical words against protesters (or constantly balance them with caveats), I'm a racist.

A few years ago, a caller accused me of racism, after which a flood of black and Hispanic callers took this caller to task. They knew me too well for that, and on quite a few occasions, I've had the joy of meeting black listeners who just discovered I was white, meaning, that they perceived me to be anything but an enemy or outsider while listening to my show.

But I don't write this primarily about me (although I have, quite obviously, used myself as an example).

I write this for the sake of others, in particular for the sake of my black American friends whom I love and cherish with a deep sense of brotherhood.

You see, if we throw around the "r" word too loosely, not only does the word lose its power, but it also diminishes one's listening audience, since you end up preaching to a very narrow-minded, increasingly-small, sometimes-bigoted choir.

The fact is that it is not racist to say that the looters and violent protesters make everyone else look bad, and when that is the big news in my own city (all while a proper investigation of the police shooting is taking place), then that it is what I will call out.

It is not racist to state that black lives matter beginning in the womb, pointing to the disproportionate percentage of black abortions (which I take as a satanic attack on black Americans).

It is not racist to say that the welfare system has enslaved black Americans more than it has empowered them, also contributing to the breakdown of the black American family.

And it is not racist to respond to a black professor who, I believe, overstates his case in his letter to white America.

At the very worst, someone could say to me, "Look, what you're saying is true. We're just asking you to be more empathetic right now."

But that is a far cry from being racist, as I hope all would agree.

I have often said that white Americans often do not see racism when it is there, while black Americans often see racism when it is not there, meaning that we all have blind spots and we need to listen to each other and learn from each other in order to recognize these blind spots.

Is it racist to make such a statement? I think not.

So, let us listen to each other, learn from each other, and stand with each other for justice, and let us be careful not to use the "r" word against each other unless it is really merited.

That way, when we expose real racism, we can do it with bite and power and conviction.

Dr. Michael Brown ( is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is The Grace Controversy. Connect with him on Facebook or Twitter.

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