Respect the office of the president

While listening to talk radio on Sept. 28, I heard conservative commentator Laura Ingraham refer to President Barack Obama as, “You fool!” Shock, disbelief and utter amazement are the only words I know to describe my emotions upon hearing those words.

By William Dwight McKissic Sr.

Later, I asked one of my associates to listen to the archived recording of Ingraham’s show to determine if I had heard correctly, and I had. Referring to President Obama’s visit to Copenhagen to pitch his hometown to the International Olympic Committee, Ingraham stated: “He doesn’t have time to speak to his general in Afghanistan, but he has time to fly to Copenhagen and push for Chicago. This is an exercise in egotism -- pure egotism, period.... The news over the weekend is that Colin Powell is being consulted as President Obama rethinks his Afghanistan strategy.... By the way, the president is getting personal on his outreach on this issue. Why doesn’t he just call all the generals [Gen. McChrystal in Afghanistan]? Why doesn’t he just talk to his own general? He is going to old generals like Colin Powell. Talk to the one who is actually in Afghanistan, you fool!”

Referring to the President of the United States as “You fool” brings to memory South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson’s recent bellicose statement interrupting the president’s speech to a joint session of Congress, “You lie!” At the very least, these actions violate the biblical and conservative principle of respect for authority, set a poor example for the people who listen to them -- including children -- and for some, raises the question of racism.

President Barack Obama, and his wife, Michelle, have been called by Tammy Bruce, a guest host on Laura Ingraham’s show, “trash in the White House.” Rusty DePass, a prominent South Carolina Republican activist, responded on Facebook to reports of a gorilla that had escaped from a local zoo by saying, “I’m sure it’s just one of Michelle’s ancestors -- probably harmless.”

Enough is enough! It is time for the church of the living God to take a stand. Since Laura Ingraham called the president a fool publicly, I’m asking her to apologize publicly to him and all her listeners who were offended. Morever, I’m asking that the president of the Southern Baptist Convention, Johnny Hunt, and the president of the SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Richard Land, join me in repudiating Ingraham’s and Wilson’s remarks on the grounds that they are disrespectful to the office of the president of the United States.

I am not accusing Ingraham or Wilson of being racist, but clearly disrespectful. However, we must acknowledge that many Americans of all colors and political persuasions believe that these actions have a racist underpinning.

I alone cannot influence the culture to refrain from disrespecting the president. But, if my Baptist brethren and people of good will would sound the alarm, it would go a long way toward furthering the biblical command to “honor the king” (I Peter 2:17).

The Southern Baptist Convention sat on the sidelines during the Civil Rights Movement and watched fire hoses sprayed on black people, dogs barking and biting black people at the prodding of Bull Connor’s bullhorn, and bombs blowing up black churches while black girls studied their Bibles in Sunday school. Please, don’t sit idly by again and allow this president to suffer these kinds of indignities and disrespect. Please do not repeat the sins of your fathers. Step forward and boldly denounce and condemn this disrespectful, unbiblical and possibly racially insensitive rhetoric -- for the Kingdom of Heaven’s sake and the Great Commission’s sake.

Surely “you lie,” “you fool,” “gorilla” and “trash in the White House” ought to move Baptists and Americans to action to repudiate the Ingraham and Wilson comments and to request respect for the office of the president.

OPINION: Views expressed in Baptist News Global columns and commentaries are solely those of the authors.