As Senator Chuck Schumer correctly identified in his speech to the Senate shortly after resuming duties to certify the 2020 Presidential election; January 6th, 2020 has now been added to December 7th, 1941 as "a date which will live in infamy". Incited by the likes of Donald Trump, Josh Hawley, Mo Brooks, and Ted Cruz, Americans stormed the US Capitol building in an outright act of sedition and insurrection that led to five people's deaths that day. What happened that day is undoubtedly one of the darkest days America has seen. Unfortunately, instead of coming together as a country as we did on September 11th we've only grown further apart in the days since. What's more troubling is the divisions in real life are extending across to Freemasonry itself.
In fact, in the Masonic world, a quite "scandalous" thing happened, the Grand Master of North Carolina and a few days later the Grand Master of Wisconsin denounced the insurrection and those who participated, "and there was much rejoicing." Oh, wait…no, there was much division. Wait, what?
Yes, Masons were ACTUALLY upset over these statements, going so far as calling the Grand Master of North Carolina a "virtue signaling Nazi." I shit you not. My initial inclination in writing this is to go through each of the arguments presented in opposition and rebut them. But Bro RJ Johnson and I have done that in previous articles of ours, so that's a bit old hat. No, I want to commend the Grand Masters on this. What is right isn't always necessarily an easy thing to do, and I'm sure Grand Masters Wicker and Gorgen were aware they would get blowback on this. To borrow a term, nevertheless they persisted and did what was right. Thank YOU, my Brethren, for being a beacon of what is right these days. It hasn't gone unnoticed that you’re only two out of 50 Grand Masters to release an official statement.
Make no bones about it, strong and direct language was used by the Grand Masters, and Brethren of their respective Grand Lodges involved in these particular groups were called out directly. Maybe I am a "social justice warrior" or a "virtue signaling Nazi" myself, but their words both struck and resonated with me, as I wish they would have with more Masons;
“Affiliation or membership with any organization that seeks to undermine the integrity of our nation, to divide people based on the color of their skin, orientation or religion, or to promote the welfare of one group of people at the expense of another is repugnant to the institution and foundation of Freemasonry.” - MW R. David Wicker Jr., Grand Master of Masons in North Carolina
“Masons who believe in the principles of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth cannot in clear conscience belong to any organization that teaches hate and supremacy of one person over another because of color, nationality, and religious beliefs. These organizations are in direct conflict with what we as Masons hold dear. It cannot be possible to hold membership in one of these subversive organizations and still be a Mason.” - MW Kenneth Gorgen Grand Master of Masons in Wisconsin
Members of these groups in attendance at the Capitol wore shirts and regalia saying the following things; Camp Auschwitz and 6MWE (short for 6 Million Wasn't Enough). I hope I don't need to point out why such statements and images are problematic. Masons who have responded to the posting of these letters are questioning why the Grand Masters are "equating all Republicans as racists and bigots." or "wading into politics" In response to me on one of these Facebook pages where I had questioned why is it problematic that groups in opposition to Freemasonry’s ideals being incompatible is problematic someone responded with; "I have several Jewish friends who support Donald Trump, does that make them Nazi's." In response to both, no. The Grand Masters were not calling all Republicans racists, bigots, and Nazis, nor was I (for the record, I am a Republican and conservative), and my Brother's Jewish friends are not Nazis just because they support Donald Trump. However, I would point out that Donald Trump past statements to these groups, and his own statements while the Capitol was under siege;
“Proud Boys, stand back and stand by.”
“We love you, you’re very special.”
...and these are just two among MANY similar statements.
Some of (not all) Donald Trump’s most vocal supporters are anti-Semites and neo-Nazi’s, and he loves them. Some of (not all) Donald Trump’s most vocal supporters are insurrectionists and seditionists, and he loves them. Some of (not all) Donald Trump’s most vocal supporters very likely were looking to kidnap and possibly murder a United States Vice President, Senators and Congresspeople and he loves them. Is any of that compatible with Freemasonry? It sure as shit isn’t.
Back in the summer, when we were dealing with protests all across this country, we had far more Grand Masters issuing statements on the protesting and rioting in those cities, now we only have two. To be clear, I am not accusing the lack of statements on this to racism at all. I am however certainly equating it to the ideals of nationalism and Trumpism being far more prevalent and accepted within the Craft than those ideals from groups like Black Lives Matter. I’m also not naïve to the fact that Masonry is at a time where membership, specifically numbers is one of, if not the key concern to all Grand Lodges and their Officers. But it has led us to a situation where, we’re SO concerned about keeping our numbers up, that we don’t do our due diligence on members at the West Gate before we admit them. It’s…not…worth it.
I don't think I need to point out we don't exactly have the best track record when it comes to race relations throughout our history, and if you look hard enough, you can still find plenty of racists and bigots within the Craft. The Trump campaign and his Presidency have not been shy about flirting with theses types of people. I think the reason these messages are hitting so hard and have caused so much opposition to them is because those in opposition to these messages are either outright members of these groups, or dangerously towing the line. If you’re not a member of any of these groups, if you’re not a racist or a bigot, you have nothing to be upset about.
They’re also 100% correct. There is no room in Freemasonry for these types of members within our walls. I've had some fantastic conversations this week with close Brethren of mine, and in one of them, I was reminded of the gentleman who has de-radicalized over 200 white supremacists. It IS possible for people to change, and I hope and pray that this message causes deep reflection within those so vociferously against these messages. I hope Brethren can look within themselves and realize that these messages are in fact not political, and are letters from concerned Grand Masters deeply worried for, and about their Brethren. From what I’ve seen in response to both messages though I have to admit I’m not as optimistic as I usually am.
We say a lot of things about Freemasonry, both within our internal teachings, and to the public writ large that is outright being challenged by those disagreeing with the Grand Masters;
"You are not to countenance (support) disloyalty or rebellion but patiently submit to legal authority and conform with cheerfulness to the government of the country in which you live." But Kevin, “we fought a rebellion against Great Britain” you may be screaming at me. We did, we fought a rebellion against Great Britain over ACTUAL grievances in which the King and the government of Great Britain had failed its Colonies. The insurrectionists and seditionists of January 6th carried out their actions over the false, and farcical rantings of a grown man who can’t, or won’t accept the reality that he fairly lost the 2020 election.
“We take good men and we make them better.” Yes, we do. What we don’t do is take hateful or ignorant men and make them good.
Just a month ago, we as Masons discussed an article highlighting how Freemasonry is needed now more than ever. Masons all over social media agreed that we are, as we believe in living in peace and unity. What last Wednesday's events exposed is that damn close to 50% of Freemasons are okay with insurrection, racists, and bigots as long as it's their side doing it. Like our Country, Freemasonry is at a reckoning point, and only two Grand Master care enough about our fraternity to rise up and face the challenge.