"To preserve the reputation of the Fraternity unsullied must be your constant care."

BE A FREEMASON

Saturday, January 09, 2021

North Carolina GM Issues Statement Over Capitol Riot

Getty images
by Christopher Hodapp

The miserable year of 2020 has now officially slipped into history, but it wasn't going to just go quietly without putting up a desperate struggle. On January 6th, tens (and perhaps hundreds) of thousands of supporters of Present Donald Trump assembled on the Ellipse in Washington DC in protest over the results of the November 2020 election. At the other end of the Mall inside the U.S.Capitol, the House of Representatives and the Senate were in the process of debating and formally certifying the Electoral College results of the presidential race.

Before the president's speech to his supporters ended, a large mob of people broke off, made their way to the Capitol, and stormed into the building. The unprecedented rampage that ensued (and covered in real time on television and the Internet) left five people dead, including a Capitol police officer who was struck in the head with a fire extinguisher, and one of the protesters, a 35-year old female Air Force veteran who was shot by an officer. Three others died from apparent medical emergencies. Members of Congress were hustled to an undisclosed 'secure location' as tear gas was used against the mob.

As with most riots and mass rampages, an adolescent glee for breaking things and invading symbolic seats of authority figures for the sake of selfies and high-fives from fellow mob members fanned the flames of frenzy. Knocking down symbols of power for the sheer fun of it is a common hallmark of massive mob protests, and this one was no exception. As more details became available, some of the participants posing for the cameras and egging on the crowd turned out to be known anarchic provocateurs seen at other riots and violent protests from earlier in the year. But the majority of the crowd that slowly moved into the rotunda and then on to the House and Senate chambers seemed more like several hundred dogs who had suddenly caught the UPS truck they had been chasing without a clue of what to do with it now.

It was not America's finest hour, and it's almost impossible to know how history will regard this event and the last year after all the dust clears and time softens the heated passions of the moment.

In the wake of this shocking (but probably inevitable) event, social media erupted as millions took sides over what was unfolding. The toxic political atmosphere of the last four years had finally taken its toll, as 50% of the country declared that the other 50% were their mortal enemy, and vice versa. And since the Internet, Twitter and Facebook have become the 21st century battlefields, there were Masons to be found on both sides of the political divide acting less than Masonically to each other. 

R. David Walker, Jr., Grand Master
Grand Lodge AF&AM of North Carolina

On Friday, January 8th, MW R. David Walker, Jr., Grand Master of the Grand Lodge AF&AM of North Carolina, issued a statement to the Brethren in his jurisdiction concerning Wednesday's events. The statement was circulated on the North Carolina grand lodge website and Facebook pages (click image to enlarge).



(To answer a question posed by many over the last few days, North Carolina also weighed in last summer with a joint statement with the MW Prince Hall GL of NC concerning the riots following the death of George Floyd. See it HERE.)

The condemnation of a mob attack on the very center of American democracy should scarcely be a controversial message. But almost as soon as the statement was publicly posted, an avalanche of positive and negative online reactions ensued. The message was greeted in several Masonic Facebook groups with appalling accusations, insults and reactions between Brethren, so much so that moderators shut down many of the discussions completely or removed entire conversations. The political vitriol that has become so commonplace in the profane world was on full display throughout the virtual Masonic community as well. 

The result is that I have now seen scores of Masons announce their intention to leave the fraternity, or at least reconsider their membership over it. Worse, the public can easily find these toxic exchanges, which only serves to smear Freemasonry as an institution that doesn't practice what it preaches.

It has been a cornerstone of Freemasonry since its official beginnings to prohibit the discussion of religion and politics within the confines of our tiled meetings because of the potential for heated divisions among our members. The online battles that have raged over the North Carolina statement are a clear demonstration of why that rule is necessary. Since the various riots and demonstrations around the country that began in summer of 2020, there have been no instances of Freemasons actually engaging in or organizing them AS MASONS. It's arguable that grand lodges issuing messages of support, solidarity or condemnation of political demonstrations and social uprisings have as much effect as Starbucks Coffee, Macy's, or the My Pillow company weighing in on political positions: regardless of the stance taken, the practical result is to needlessly conflict with a substantial proportion of existing customers (or members, in our case).

Grand lodges all over the country have been wrestling with adopting online social media rules of conduct over the last few years. Some have been minimal, common sense recommendations, but others have been needlessly detailed, draconian and picayune. The breakdown of social norms and the loss of what used to be called the 'civic virtues' that the Founders recognized as being the only way a democratic republic could endure have helped bring us to this gloomy moment in time. Historically, Freemasonry was deliberately encouraged to expand across America after our Revolution specifically to teach a rough, disparate and illiterate public how to get along with each other - to disagree without being disagreeable, and to unite men for the common good "among whom no contention should ever exist but that noble contention, or rather emulation, of who best can work, and best agree." Religion, politics, social and economic status, level of education - none of these were supposed to matter in the sanctuary of the lodge room or between Brethren in daily life, and those frontier Masons learned to sit side by side with men diametrically opposed to their own opinions.
 
It's probably irrational to believe that Freemasonry as a philosophy can successfully calm and subdue the passions of all of her members during this time of upheaval and 24-hour rage-making stoked by opportunistic activists, basement revolutionaries, keyboard warriors, politicians and media figures. Enforced isolation from the COVID shutdowns has prevented us from meeting face to face, Brother to Brother, for nine months now. But it certainly has no possible hope of succeeding with Masons who would rather quit than learn to coexist with their Brethren over politics. The COVID aftermath will certainly exact a dramatic toll on the fraternity from Masons who decide to drop their membership out of ennui caused by the shutdowns. Let's all hope that political strife and disagreements between Masons over transitory elections don't do even worse.

19 comments:

  1. I do not understand why the statement from the North Carolina Grand Lodge is so controversial. When people build their ideologies around hate, how could they be Freemasons? How could they belong to an international brotherhood when they have millions of brothers they hate?

    How could a klansman accept an African as his brother?
    How could a nazi accept a Jew as his brother?
    How could a proud boy accept a Muslim, Hindu, or Buddhist as his brother?
    How could a member of the QAnon cult even be a Freemason? The cult is just a modern resurrection of old conspiracies revolving around Jews and Freemasons.

    We all meet on the level, but that requires meeting without hatred in our hearts. All brothers are equal regardless of race or religion, and if someone cannot accept that, then is the person really a Mason?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You answer your own question in your first three words.

      It's true that a mason couldn't be those things and be a mason. That's the first clue that you're starting with false assumptions.

      You're assuming these people are Nazis and klansmen. You're assuming things about Proud Boys or Q people and that's creating cognitive dissonance. That will continue until you subdue your passions, be silent and circumspect, and try to listen to those with whom you disagree with the goals of understanding what they really want, why they want it, and what you have in common with them.

      That is the only thing that will heal this divide. Isolating people will only end in further divide and radicalization.

      Delete
    2. Thats the problem right now.. what some see as hate and anger others see as a fundiment attack on what it is to be American. Personally I think both sides of the isle are acting like children and are leading by poor example. The Grand Lodge of any state should recognize that their membership is deverse with diverse feelings and should have not weighed in. Instead called for unity and for us to be examples to our community.

      Delete
    3. I have listened to the Proud Boys and the QAnon crowd. I know what they believe. I know what they stand for and what they want to do. This is 2021, and people need to stop pretending that they are (harmless alternative opinions). They are domestic terrorists. They want to kill me. "Healing the divide" won't come with coddling them, because coddling racists in the past led to the Blue Lodge-Prince Hall separation and the utter failure of Reconstruction. "Healing the divide" requires breaking them up as their klan predecessors experienced, and arresting them for their crimes.

      Delete
    4. If you listened to the Proud Boys then you've got to tell me what they've said to you that makes you think they want to kill you. Because I have never once heard that kind of thing from them. Ever. And I've been paying attention to their exploits, good and bad, since 2016.

      Delete
  2. Thanks as always for not just reporting what is going on, but giving us context.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This letter is just another reason why I demitted last week... This hypocrite who wrote this letter never said a word when BLM. ANTIFA & the Communist Democrats burned, looted cities & towns... Murdered Police, destroyed George Washington Statutes and other Masonic Historic Landmarks.... SMFH..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. it's actually dimit not demit

      Delete
    2. I work with a lot of Masonic jurisdictions and both spellings are commonly used. It all depends on what GL the GL is descended from.

      Delete
    3. Both spellings are used in the U.S. 'Demit' seems to be most common, but plenty of jurisdictions use 'dimit' instead.

      Delete
  4. What should have been said to keep controversy down was something like are country is in turmoil please pray for and remember our obligation brethren may God be with you all. IM Not taking sides at all but anything you say anymore is taking out of context so you have to say it where it can be looked at on both sides as positive and no im not talking about taking sides with racism it has nothing to do with that but nothing was said about kenosha burning down the chaz or chop for 1 month in Seattle the summer long riots in Portland or 5 year old boy that got killed in our home state Not one word. My opinion is say nothing about anything but now its got started already. And it will consume the fraternity like wildfire.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I believe that, as was briefly mentioned in the blog post, it was ultimately unnecessary to even issue the opinion/condemnation as it did nothing other than alienate several members.

    I was taught that the best way to keep things from getting out of pocket is to keep them in pocket. The GM shouldn't have issued an opinion on something that happened outside of his grand jurisdiction for any reason.

    Regardless of the politically correct intent of the GM, the actual result was not what the means was meant to foster.

    Politics and sectarian religion should be left out of Masonry both in a typed lodge and elsewhere so as to not alienate ANY Brother, assenting or dissenting to someone's personal opinion. Having a titular position makes your opinion no more deserving of being forcefully shared than someone who doesn't hold that title.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I thoroughly enjoyed your blog, my brother! Safe travels!

    ReplyDelete
  7. @Michael R. ... this statement from the GL of NC is controversial because the silence of the violence & chaos from 2020 appears to be deafening. Grand Lodges are now speaking out against what happened at the Capitol this year - but not what happened at the Capitol during Kavanaugh's time (for example). As a result - while this statement makes many who are the Left happy, it inflames others as it comes across political due to lack of similar statements with regards to the actions of BLM / Antifa. I hope this answers your question. The entire article from WB Chris Hodapp speaks to this, I think the reason for the post. I've not been to a Lodge meeting in some time due to Lodges being Dark due to COVID .. I can only imagine the contention this would be should it come up in a Stated Meeting. Maybe it's a good thing Lodges are Dark for the time being ... gives many a chance to cool down a bit - else we all go back to learning how to Subdue our Passions.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Quite apart from the five people killed during the capitol riot, we have a long term change, which is that lodges will lost a large member of the remaining membership. Age plus the lack of resources to bring to health standards the lodge rooms, dining rooms, elevator, bath rooms...

    ReplyDelete
  9. By defending political standpoints regular US Grand Lodges do exactly what they reproach Grand Orient-style freemasonry: both approaches grow closer! I wonder how UGLE addresses this phenomenon...

    ReplyDelete
  10. My concern - as a member of the Craft - is that we are allowing such divisiveness into our hearts. While this particular letter calls out the extremists on one side, it should be understood that extremism of any stripe is unacceptable within the fraternity, be it right-wing or left-wing, or any other type of extremism that may exist in the world.

    There is a reason that politics and religion are not permitted in the lodge. We should be considering the whole world to be an extension of our lodge, after all aren't we trying to build a better world overall?

    Fraternally,

    Richard Jensen, PM

    ReplyDelete
  11. This was a ritual on display at the capital. The wild hunt. Did anyone else notice this ritual play out?

    ReplyDelete

ATTENTION!
SIGN YOUR NAME OR OTHERWISE IDENTIFY YOURSELF IN YOUR COMMENT POSTS IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A GOOGLE ACCOUNT.
Comments will not appear immediately, so be patient. I am forced to laboriously screen every post because I am constantly bombarded with spam. Anonymous postings on Masonic topics have the same status as cowans and eavesdroppers as far as I am concerned. If you post with an unknown or anonymous account, do not expect to see your comment appear.