By Suzanne Bowman | Jamestown

On Wednesday, June 17, readers across the state were treated with the following call to anarchy and revolution with the headline, “Only riots, burning result in action." The headline was associated with an opinion editorial written by Lloyd Omdahl, North Dakota Democrat officeholder of yesteryear. The provocative title was meant to be controversial. Understandably, it is challenging to attract and retain readers so writers may engage in hyperbole now and then. However Omdahl writes with a distinction few others in local media possess, he was formerly the second-highest ranking executive responsible for upholding enforcement of North Dakota’s law. Therefore, when he advocates destruction leading to criminality as the only reasonable method for cultivating a moral society, he is particularly culpable for broadcasting bad ideas.

Knowing that readers would think he is perfectly lacking sound mind, he bolsters his shaky premise by drawing parallels with Christian martyrs fighting valiantly against oppressors of the past. He writes, “As a Christian, I am supposed to be for peace, not rioting and looting. But some days I feel like pacifist Pastor Bonhoeffer who abandoned pacifism to help kill Adolf Hitler.” One might ask the obvious question, how did that work out for Bonhoeffer? Hitler killed himself on a timetable of his own choosing, Bonhoeffer was hung after months of languishing in prison. Bonhoeffer’s contribution to the world was not his reluctant, marginal involvement in an assassination conspiracy rather, it was the beauty of his contemplative writings born from years of identifying with the sufferings of Christ.

Omdahl equates demonstrations, riots and burning to “raw force, the only weapons minorities have to shift power and resources.” So here is the crux of his argument; if you are not Caucasian the system will not work for you, the only option is to take the system by force. Martin Luther King Jr. disavowed use of violence as a means of achieving a just society, but apparently Omdahl, who couldn’t achieve meaningful change as a high elected officeholder, has superior knowledge compared with the greatest civil rights organizer of our nation’s history.

If Omdahl is racked with pain from a considerable weight of compassion for underprivileged minority youth as he indicates, I have a suggested antidote which does wonders for the soul of the giver and recipient alike — give generously to scholarships for underprivileged youth and if that doesn’t ease the suffering immediately — keep giving. Eventually, the malady which fuels desire to see property burned and looted will subside.

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Given a choice, the masses of underprivileged people would prefer empowerment over empathy.