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  • Doug Tjapkes

No more "Lock her up" talk!


“Lock her up!” That was a popular phrase during the 2016 presidential campaign. The chant at Trump rallies was in response to perceived indiscretions by his opponent, Hillary Clinton. Four years later, the roles got reversed when a New York Times expose revealed that the President has been paying little if any income tax. “Lock him up,” chanted attendees of a Joe Biden rally. Last weekend, the chant got revived just north of here in Muskegon, where President Trump cited a recent court ruling against our own Governor Whitmer. “Lock her up,” shouted the crowd. And to all people who attend political rallies for both parties, I shout back No! No! No! We don’t want anybody to lock up anybody! Our staff handles an average of more than 60 calls a day from prisoners or their loved ones, sharing horror stories from behind bars. You have no idea! Do you really want to recommend that anyone be placed behind bars? Really? -Ask the parent of a daughter who is struggling with pregnancy while in prison. -Ask the kids who have parents serving life without parole. -Ask the wife of a prisoner who tested positive for COVID 19, but cannot get treatment. -Ask the girl-friend of an inmate who cannot call her because the gangs are controlling the prison phones. -Ask the man whose elderly father is being extorted by gang bangers behind bars. -Ask the mother whose mentally challenged son is regularly abused by guards. -Ask the sister of a woman being deprived of sleep by an annoying cell light fixture. Says American historian Howard Zinn: “It must surely be a tribute to the resilience of the human spirit that even a small number of those men and women in the hell of the prison system survive it and hold on to their humanity.” Some will argue that these chants are just in fun, just part of the rally frenzy...it’s all in jest. To quote Molly, from a favorite old radio show: “’t’ain’t funny, McGee!” In August, 1988, George H. W. Bush received his party's nomination for President. In his acceptance speech, he called for a "kinder, gentler nation." That’s exactly what is needed right now. A pastor friend this week wondered, “how you can preach your butt off every week about Jesus and then have your folks run off to a political rally and shout "Lock her up!"  Does it make any difference?” Yes, it does. It can start with two people: you and me. I saw a t-shirt the other day that says, Be you, not them! “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 Let’s start today.

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