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Bethel McGrew: The right time to mourn

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WORLD Radio - Bethel McGrew: The right time to mourn

Leftist Ryan Carson’s murder should not be celebrated on the political right


New York City Police Department outside a crime scene in the Queens borough of New York. Associated Press/Photo by John Minchillo

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Today is Tuesday, October 24th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Myrna Brown.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Up next, a recent murder case in New York City. It’s a tough topic, but WORLD Opinions commentator Bethel McGrew points us to a foundational principle that’s easily overlooked. The sanctity of every human life.

BETHEL MCGREW, COMMENTATOR: It used to be that a man could get stabbed to death on the street, and nobody would know about it except his family or friends. But in the age of social media, those days feel like a distant dream. 

Earlier this month, the savage murder of political activist Ryan Carson became viral clickbait fodder, as the surveillance footage of his death made the rounds on X, formerly known as Twitter. The footage shows him sitting on a bench with his girlfriend, when a young black man in a hoodie walks past them. As the couple get up and walk in his direction, the man suddenly begins shouting incoherently, then turns around and makes an aggressive approach. Within seconds, Carson is collapsed on the pavement with a fatal chest wound. (Suspect Brian Dowling has been arrested and is currently being held without bail.)

The way Carson tried to confront his attacker came in for cruel mockery. Instead of either fleeing or disarming the young man, Carson naively keeps telling him to “chill.” Many on the right were quick to see his murder as a brutally fitting reward for his left-wing activism, propping up Antifa and pushing for softer crime policies.

Not everyone joined in the mob. Conservative writer Nate Hochman condemned the schadenfreude and praised Carson for at least trying to protect his girlfriend. But sympathy and nuance were thin on the ground among those for whom Carson was the “right” sort of victim. Of course, this vice cuts across the political spectrum. Earlier this year, we saw left-wing social media mocking the death of the “rich white men” on the Titan submarine. On the left and the right alike, no death is too cruel to be converted into a celebratory meme. In fact, the crueler the death, the more memes it seems to generate.

Meanwhile some self-styled “conservatives,” like political pundit Gina Bontempo, have proposed that compassion is wasted on our political enemies. In a long post on X, Bontempo pointed out that both Carson and his girlfriend promoted abortion on demand, sided with violent criminals against cops, and wanted to hound conservatives out of the public square. They wouldn’t show conservatives mercy. So why should we conservatives “back down” and “give ground” by showing them mercy now?

Of course, Bontempo’s whole post is a strawman argument. It’s not “backing down” or “giving ground” to suggest that it’s actually normal to feel upset when we see a man, any man, get murdered in real time. This is not incompatible with opposing evil or foolish policies. Even if Carson’s activism indirectly helped create the conditions for crimes like his own murder, that doesn’t make the crime just. 

All of this should go without saying, but apparently, it still needs to be said. And in an increasingly secular age—on left and right alike—it will fall to Christians to say it. Not because we’re seeking approval from our political opponents, but because we are human. And so are they. 

I’m Bethel McGrew.


WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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