Commentary by The Three Amigos
We are three clergymen: a Catholic Archbishop, a Jewish Rabbi, and a Baptist preacher. Sound like the beginning of a bad joke? No we are, aside from our calling as servants of God, also advocates for civil rights and partners in the struggle for social and economic justice and peace. We use all of our faiths to distill the current crises down to a common principle: No justice, no peace. All of us have had to face the harsh reality that we have racism in our society. We can look at the ugly death of Houston’s own George Floyd; but George is only one of a multitude of blacks (not African Americans, or “Negroes,” or “colored people”) who have died because of police brutality. He is one of a long chain of such victims: Eric Garner, Breanna Taylor, Derrick Elseth, Oscar Grant, et al, et al.
There are two major questions we must ask ourselves after these painful deaths: how shall we respond, and where do we go from here? The answer to the first question is easy; to kick back until bones are broken and teeth are knocked out. We demanded serious punishment for the other three officers and we got it. If we wanted him—and his three fellowship officers dead, we sentenced them all to death or to painful last months of their lives simply by putting them into a penitentiary. Black folks will know what I mean. But revenge is a shallow joy, and it is not the final step for a civilized society. Now we must determine how we correct, improve, and clean up the corrupt criminal justice system. And we must use our collective strength to put into leadership persons who care enough about human beings so that they will provide for education, health care, jobs, support of small businesses, and pulling down inequity of race, class, gender, and national origin. This was the agenda of Martin King—that’s why the white establishment had to have him assassinated.
So before we can expect significant change in our crippled social order, we need good Mayors and City Councils; good school boards and Superintendents; good state government; good people in Congress and in the Senate; and a President who cares more about the people of the nation than he does about photo ops in front of churches. And you know how to get such teams on the field—you have to register and vote.
What has all of this said? It says spend the necessary time to grieve and to hurt over these victims—and then let’s get out our power washer and do some serious cleaning of a filthy system. Remember, simple revenge may give us some temporary relief, but it gives us nothing to pass on to our children and our children’s children.
Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza
Rabbi Samuel Karff
The Three Amigos