The Genesis:3 Project
She conceived and bore a son, and he named him Er. Genesis 38:3
There is no such thing as an inconsequential life, but that doesn’t mean that some people don’t squander their consequence.
We all know stories of people who were bound for greatness and elected to take a detour. The baseball star who showed such potential, but invested in drugs instead of himself. The business genius whose greed exceeded his legal opportunities. The actress whose confidence in her talent was insufficient to deal with the changes in her appearance, so she had her face and body surgically altered. The manufacturer whose efficiencies turn out to be dangerous compromises of quality.
And these days we are particularly focused on politicians whose chances to do good are squandered in their constant quest to retain office.
Such a person is Clay Higgins. Look him up online. At this writing, he is a first-term Member of the House of Representatives from the Louisiana gulf coast. Mr. Higgins was a man with an unremarkable career when he landed a position as a sheriff’s department spokesperson. His weekly “Crimestopper” videos were increasingly popular, especially when he began addressing suspects by name. But the success seemed to go to his head, and he was warned a number of times to temper his language and his threats. Eventually, he resigned from the sheriff’s department.
But the local party found him to be a no-nonsense personality and put him up for Congress. Billing himself as the “Cajun John Wayne,” he was elected. And once in office for just five months, he responded to a terrorist attack in the UK by calling for extra-judicial killings (that is, murder) of all “radicalized Islamic suspects” in the name of “Christendom.” The end of his statement was the unambiguous: “Hunt them, identify them, and kill them. Kill them all. For the sake of all that is good and righteous. Kill them all.”
As you might imagine, his press office tried to explain away his words, but there was insufficient ambiguity for it to be successful. His good luck is that there is so much outrageous behavior from politicians higher on the food chain that his statement faded into the background.
(I made a public call for his resignation, for the record.)
But a month later, Rep. Higgins made a video as he toured Auschwitz. Standing in the gas chamber where hundreds of thousands of innocents were murdered, using ovens in the main camp (the larger crematoria in Birkenau were destroyed) as a backdrop, the Congressman solemnly intoned the importance of homeland security and a dominant military to prevent such horrors from being visited on the United States. The logical fallacies in his arguments are self-evident, but the abysmal judgment that brought him to Auschwitz to create a video (with a “Schindler’s List” soundtrack, no less) has further demeaned office he holds. (It ends, by the way, with the gentleman in a prayer pose overlaid with the flags of the United States and Israel.)
The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum called him out, and he took down the video. His apology notes his support of Israel and a strong military – certainly sincere and accurate representations, but yet another attempt to politicize his wrongheaded passions.
I have the privilege of knowing many elected officials on both sides of the aisle. Almost to the person, they recognize the privilege granted to them to serve their constituencies and the Constitution. Some of them hold policy positions I find noxious, and some others are cockeyed optimists. Most of them hope to elevate the unalienable rights and common values that make this country great.
We do not know what Er did to squander his consequence, but that is all he is remembered for. The Bible spares him the indignity of specifics. History won’t be that considerate of Clay Higgins.