The shooting at a Tennessee Waffle House and its aftermath, say everything about this Presidency: A white shooter. People of color brutally murdered. A black, gunless hero saving strangers. A silent white President.

It’s all been on full display:

No calls by FoxNews to ban angry young white guys. No white evangelical televangelists taking to social media to condemn the evils of racism and the danger of gun proliferation. Nothing about the victims of color. Not a word from GOP leaders. Barely even any cursory “thoughts and prayers” for the dead. No Presidential praise for the black man who saved countless lives without a weapon.

By the way, Mr Trump, his name is James Shaw Jr. All of this, a week after the arrest of two black men in a Philadelphia Starbucks, within hours of a Neo-Nazi rally in Georgia, and just days before the manufactured racist holiday, “Confederate Memorial Day.

This week is a microcosm of Trump’s America:

Contempt for people brown skin, by white people specifically emboldened. White privilege expressed in violent rage, with a weapon far too easily procured. A refusal to hold white, homegrown criminals accountable for the terrors they inflict — and to name them as terrorism. A purposeful Right silence in the face of people whose lives dispense with their preferred false narrative about people of color and the dangers in the world. A mass murder where none of the GOP tropes fit, and so there is no high horse to mount, no soapbox to stand upon, no pulpit to pound — and instead, only silence and hiding.

This week brings many fresh reminders.

It reminds us of the goodness within all people; of the similar selflessness that resides in disparate humanity, regardless of its pigmentation or orientation or nation of origin; of the incredible courage we are equally capable of.

It reminds us that people like James Shaw Jr are precisely what is making America great, and that we are called at all times to be prepared to stand up to the monsters when they appear — whether wielding weapons or legislation or bully pulpits.

It reminds us that white people rarely get painted as the villains here, even when they easily earn such titles — and that people of color have rarely received a hero’s welcome, even when clearly being heroic.

It reminds us how far we have to go until Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness really are accessible to everyone.

It reminds us that we can’t rely on our elected officials and our paid clergy to champion diversity and equality; that we the people will have to do do that; repeatedly, loudly, passionately.

It also reminds us that our nation is not going to be made great because of this President and those like him — but in spite of them.

This week we are seeing who we are, America. And we are seeing who we could be — if more good people move and more good people speak.

John Pavlovitz

James Shaw Jr.

The original version of this Op Ed was published on

John Pavlovitz launched an online ministry to help connect people who want community, encouragement, and to grow spiritually. Individuals who want to support his work can sponsor his mission on Patreon, and help the very real pastoral missionary expand its impact in the world.