Franklin Graham recently posted the following statement on his Facebook page:
“Listen up—Blacks, Whites, Latinos, and everybody else. Most police shootings can be avoided. It comes down to respect for authority and obedience. If a police officer tells you to stop, you stop. If a police officer tells you to put your hands in the air, you put your hands in the air. If a police officer tells you to lay down face first with your hands behind your back, you lay down face first with your hands behind your back. It’s as simple as that. Even if you think the police officer is wrong—YOU OBEY. Parents, teach your children to respect and obey those in authority. Mr. President, this is a message our nation needs to hear, and they need to hear it from you. Some of the unnecessary shootings we have seen recently might have been avoided. The Bible says to submit to your leaders and those in authority ‘because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account.’”
Certainly there is a degree of wisdom in these words. That many police shootings would be avoided if the individual who finds himself confronted by a law enforcement official complies with all instructions, makes no threatening movements, and is generally polite seems an unassailable proposition. But one wonders to whom this statement is directed.
It does not appear to be directed to those who recently suffered the devastating loss of a loved one at the hands of a police officer. It lacks the empathy and compassion that surely Mr. Graham would evince if he were speaking face-to-face with such a person. Surely Mr. Graham would not respond to the grieving mother ushered into his office with such sound advice about how her remaining children are to avoid such instances in the future. Surely he would not console her with the conclusory “It’s as simple as that.” Looking into her eyes, he would know better.