The Briefing, Albert Mohler

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

It’s Tuesday, October 18th, 2022.

I’m Albert Mohler, and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.

Part I

Identity Politics and the Insidious Nature of Racism on Display in LA: President of City Council Steps Down after Racist Remarks

There’s been a huge story in Los Angeles, California. It’s been unfolding in recent days. It has led to the resignation of the president of the Los Angeles City Council, and it may lead to other resignations as well. At least, according to the President of the United States and the Los Angeles Times, it should lead to other resignations as well.

The story gets back to the reality that a leaked tape was made available in recent days of a conversation that had taken place about a year ago, in the year 2021, between four leaders of the Hispanic community there in Los Angeles, three members of the city council, and one developer. The fact is that, in the course of the conversation, then-Los Angeles City Council president, Nury Martinez, made statements which are clearly racist. They are based in the political ambition for Hispanics, as we shall see for certain Hispanics and Latinos to gain politically at the expense of other groups.

The central issue here, in terms of the impetus for the conversation, was an upcoming redistricting in which lines of representation within the city government of Los Angeles would be redrawn. Now, anytime you talk about redistricting, or you talk about the reconfiguration of, say, legislative districts within a state’s contingent to Congress, well, you really are looking at one of the most intensely political endeavors known to democratic self-government. In this case, it also was an occasion for a conspiratorial meeting between three members of the council and another major Hispanic political and labor figure in the community to plot as to how they could increase Hispanic and Latino representation, but specifically the representation of certain Hispanic and Latino groups.

Now, as we see here, it really is a complicated picture. But it’s also a headline news story. It is a parable that compels our attention because it raises so many issues about the sin of racism and about the reality of identity politics. Here, we see both graphically on display.

A pair of reporters for The New York Times reported the story days ago with these words, “The former president of the Los Angeles City Council resigned from elective office amid national outrage over racist remarks in a leaked recording hours after the state attorney general announced an investigation into the redistricting process during which the comments were made.”

Later in the article, we read, “On the leaked recording of the October 2021 conversation, the person identified as the former president of the Los Angeles City Council ‘made racist remarks about the Black child of a white council colleague, questioned the trustworthiness of white liberals, and belittled Indigenous immigrants in the city’s Koreatown neighborhood.'”

The New York paper summarized the situation with these words, “In the meeting, which was secretly recorded, the three council members and the labor leader spoke about strategies for ensuring ‘that council districts would be redrawn so that Latino leaders would have key blocks of voters within their districts, as well as assets like airports that can enhance an office holder’s political influence and fundraising ability.'” The council members and the person identified here as the labor leader ‘complained about a lack of political representation for Latinos and considered ways to carve up districts historically represented by Black council members.'”

On the tape, the labor leader said, “My goal is to get the three of you elected, and I’m just focused on that. We’re like a little Latino caucus of our own.”

Now, as most Americans hear about issues of racial controversy and conflict, the immediate thought, given American history, is a division between white Americans and African Americans or Black Americans. But in this case, white Americans are really not a part of the picture. A part of that is simply because of the demographics and the politics of Los Angeles, the nation’s second-largest city. But it’s also interesting to see how the reporting in the Los Angeles Times points out very clearly that, even within the Hispanic and Latino community, there is a caste system. That caste system, which The New York Times also recently detailed given this controversy, means that there is a tradition/there is a pattern of discrimination among those who speak Spanish and claim a Hispanic or Latino heritage against persons in Central, Middle, and South America who are described as predominantly Indigenous.

One opinion writer, writing from her own experience coming from the more indigenous tradition of the Oaxacans in Mexico, pointed out that, according to the headline in this article, racism and colorism against her vibrant Oaxacan community endures. That’s made very clear on this recording.

Similarly, a front-page article in The New York Times entitled “Fear unmask a Caste System among Latinos.” Miriam Jordan reported the story this way. and, of course, the catalyst is the controversy in Los Angeles. “The terms Hispanic and Latino have become embedded in the American mosaic, appearing in census forms, newspapers, and political polling since a law passed in 1976 began requiring federal agencies to aggregate into one group data on people who trace their ancestry to Spanish-speaking countries. The classification is based on common language, culture, and heritage, not race.”

The next paragraph, “The people in the category are far from homogenous. Many have roots in Mexico while others are Puerto Ricans, Argentines, Colombians, Cubans, Spaniards, and of course Indigenous people.”

The Times offers some real insight in this article, including this language: “Latinos are anything but a unified voting bloc in U.S. elections. Young second-generation immigrants are powering the growth of progressive politics in California, while older Cuban immigrants are conservative mainstays of the Republican Party in Florida. Along the Southwest border, established Latino families have bristled at the arrival of new immigrants from Central and South America and have called for more limits on unauthorized immigration.”

An important piece that ran in the Wall Street Journal by Will Swaim, entitled, “Leaked Audio Exposes the Racial Underbelly of LA Politics.” Swaim writes, “Los Angeles is a one-party city in a one-party state. Its politics lack real philosophical rigor, so political competitions routinely devolve into narrow personal attacks and the division of spoils, like redistricting maps. The old cliche is still true. The brilliant sunshine and Hollywood glamor mask darker realities. The city is financially hollowed out and faces recessionary economic conditions and inflationary pressure on labor capital and energy cost. According to Mark Moses, a former city finance director in Los Angeles, he continued, ‘You can be assured that little productive fiscal work can be done in such an environment.'”

But we need to note that one of the most dangerous and negative parts of this environment is the emergence of identity politics that is tied, as we shall see, to the kind of discrimination and the kind of identity politics struggle for power that just inevitably becomes the result of what happens when politics and, in particular, identity politics and something like the Los Angeles City Council collide.

Now, maybe you’re thinking, “This is just necessary. This is just unavoidable because this is how people think of themselves and each other.” But if so, this is where we note the fact that racial prejudice, racism, and racial discrimination… You’re looking at a reality that is surely sinful but is also a great deal more complicated than some simplistic analysis because here you’re really talking about a city that at least claims to be a picture of the American future.

Look at the demographics of the city of Los Angeles. The nation’s second-largest city is, indeed, a very diverse city. But the largest group by far, 47% of the population of the metropolitan area there, 47% is identified as either Latino or Hispanic. Again, that’s 47%. Only 29.4%, according to the 2020 statistics, identify as non-Hispanic whites, so 47% Hispanic or Latino; 29.4% non-Hispanic whites.

Black residents there in Los Angeles or the area amount to 9.8% of the population. Other… and that other would include African Americans, would be about 25%. Within that would also be Asians: right now, about 10.7%. The Asian population and the non-Hispanic white population and the Latino Hispanic population are all larger than the black population. Yet, you see the struggle here, or at least the political conspiracy here, in this case, was to do two things. It was to gain Hispanic influence and Latino influence at the expense of Black influence. But it was also to give preference to certain kinds of Latino and Hispanic cultures over others.

It’s also incredibly revealing that the patterns of discrimination, we are told, within the Hispanic/Latino community go back to Central and South America, and they go back centuries. That would be a pattern in which, historically, we are told, those who have some European background in terms of ancestry, and, of course, that would be predominantly Spain. They have a higher caste status than those who are identified as belonging to indigenous groups there. In Central and South America.

This is to say that those patterns of caste and discrimination… And that those patterns have basically come with successive ways of immigration by Spanish-speaking people. Why are we raising this? What is the point here? The point here is the insidious nature of racism and of some constructions of race. It points to the fact that when you’re looking at human beings in our fallen condition, the basic sin, according to scripture, is partiality. It is some unjust and illegitimate discrimination or prejudice: a partiality that means we treat some people better than other people, or we see some people more positively than other people simply because of some racial or ethnic or skin color consideration.

Now, that’s a violation of justice. It’s a violation of righteousness. It’s a violation of God’s intention and creation. That is all to be sure. But the basic point that is illustrated by this controversy and absolute political crisis there in Los Angeles. The point is, this is a far more grotesque picture than we might have thought. It simply can’t be reduced to simplistic terms. In this case, you are looking at a kind of partiality that is represented by one racial or ethnic designated group against another or others. But what makes it even more complicated is that there is discrimination and partiality that is revealed in this recorded conversation within the Hispanic and Latino community. In other words, sin is even more sinful than we can imagine.

This also demonstrates the absolutely explosive and negative illegitimate character of identity politics. When you reduce all the politics down to some identity, in this case, and that’s a racial or an ethnic identity, then everything becomes a matter of race. Once you put that into a political equation, where political decisions have very real consequences, where is an airport put? How are property values to be understood? What are to be the policies about this or about that? Who’s to get preference? Who’s to get jobs? You see the explosion that necessarily happens with identity politics. We are a culture increasingly driven by identity politics. You see that even in considerations over issues like affirmative action and preferences, in terms of admissions to schools, all kinds of other issues.

The Supreme Court is taking up a major affirmative action case. Here, we need to understand that, again, the situation is just far more complex than you might imagine. Because even as you are looking at historic patterns of discrimination, right now, the biggest issue is the fact that affirmative action is disproportionately harming Asian Americans in terms of admission to elite colleges and universities in order to advantage those identified with other groups. The claim is that this is right because of historic patterns of discrimination. But as the chief justice of the United States, John Roberts, has pointed out along with other conservatives, this is a never-ending problem. You just intervene in order to try to rectify something in order to actually give the opportunity for racism to emerge in a different form.

The chief justice has famously said, “The way to stop discriminating on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” Critical race theory and other progressivist ideas basically make race into if not the most important issue, then one of the most important issues that simply has to be accepted on the terms of critical theory, or you are yourself an oppressor. It’s a situation in which you simply ask, “Okay, how exactly would those ivory tower academics so committed to that theory tell us exactly how it is to be applied right now on the city council of the city of Los Angeles?”

All this just reminds us that race and racism, in this sense, are real. It’s a sin when you talk about racism in the biblical terms of partiality. But we also understand that sin is more insidious than many people recognize. It’s so insidious that, as we see in this story, it actually happens within what are identified as racial or ethnic groups in the United States. Much of that can be traced to those who want to make race everything, as according to the ideology of identity politics.

We wouldn’t know some of this except for the unexplained leak of that recording in recent days. Remember, that conversation took place about a year ago. But it was released in order to draw attention to this reality. That reality is quite ugly. Every Christian understands that. What to do about it is the great challenge. This is where Christians simply have to turn to biblical truth, the power of the gospel, and biblical understandings of justice. But it’s also a reminder of the fact that if Los Angeles is indeed the shape of the future in the United States, we are in big trouble.

Part II

Let the Record Show the Words of Nikolas Cruz — And We Must Recognize as a Society What We Have Decided Does Not Deserve the Death Penalty

Next, on Friday of last week, we talked about the verdict in the Parkland school shooting and the fact that Nicholas Cruz was not given the death penalty but rather is expected to receive what will amount to a sentence of life in prison without chance of parole. By the way, one of the things we need to note, and we’ll be looking more closely at this in the future, is that many on the left are actually now fighting for the sentence of life in prison without the opportunity of parole itself to be an unconstitutional form of cruel and unusual punishment. But hold that for a moment. We’ll get back to it.

The big issue here is one that was voiced by several relatives of those who were the shooting victims, in this case, killed by Nicholas Cruz. The question is, if the death penalty is not just for this crime, then what exactly is it for? If this crime does not demand the death penalty, the shootings of many people and the killing of 17 people, if this is not what demands the death penalty, then what would?

A couple of very interesting developments since last week. For one thing, the unanimous requirement in the jury verdict there in the sentencing phase of the trial in Florida has become a question of controversy. This refers to the fact that in 2016, Florida, under a court’s requirement, had to go back and revise its sentencing process for capital cases. The requirement of a unanimous jury means that even if you have, say, 11 people absolutely convinced on the jury that the death penalty is right and just one holdout can basically nullify any opportunity for the state to apply the death penalty.

Now, is that just, or is it not? It was put in place because it’s claimed that the death penalty requires the highest standard of jury affirmation. But there are many in Florida who are saying that, evidently, that means that someone can kill by premeditated murder over a dozen people in a Florida high school and not face the death penalty. If that seems shocking, it should seem shocking. As I discussed last Friday on the Briefing, the death penalty is intended for just such cases as this, not just in the number but in the premeditated nature of this targeted killing.

But just to make that point clear, Terry Spencer of the Associated Press wrote an article before it was known how the jury would return its decision concerning the sentence to be applied to Nicholas Cruz. The headline that ran in some newspapers based upon the Associated Press report was this: “Florida school shooter may have been his own worst witness.” Well, that’s so true of sin, isn’t it? Actually, the sinner does become his or her own worst witness. But in this case, there are some things that were said by Nicholas Cruz that simply defy the moral imagination. They also defy the idea that he did not deserve the death penalty.

As Terry Spencer tells us, “In frank and sometimes graphic detail, Cruz answered questions about his massacre of 17 people at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14th, 2018, his planning, his motivation, the shootings.”

When asked how long he’d been plotting the shootings, Cruz said, “A very long time,” meaning that it started as early as age 13 or 14. That’s about five years before the crime was committed. Cruz said, “It was just a thought. I was reading books. It would come and go. It would pop up in my mind.” He then talked about watching violent videos, including extensive coverage of other mass school shootings, including at Columbine High School in Colorado and at Virginia Tech University. He said, and listen to these words, “I did my own research. I studied mass murderers and how they did it, their plans, what they got and what they used.”

He went on to detail what he had learned by observing these previous mass murders to watch for would-be rescuers, according to Spencer’s report, keep some distance from your targeted victims; attack as fast as possible. Speaking of his own shooting, Cruz said, “I have a small opportunity to shoot people for maybe 20 minutes.” He talked about how he wore clothing so that he wouldn’t be spotted as an intruder at the school. Then, he talked about how he basically carried out his plot to kill as many people as possible in the time that he had. Explaining why he stopped, he said, “I couldn’t find anyone to kill. I didn’t want to do it anymore, and I didn’t think there was anyone else in the building.”

Considering the fact that the death penalty is reserved for premeditated murder with aggravating circumstances, the premeditation in this case and the aggravating circumstances are absolutely undeniable. After the jury’s decision was announced, the mother of a slain teacher said, “If this was not the most perfect death penalty case, then why do we have the death penalty at all?” Many people are asking that question. It is very, very interesting just to remind ourselves that the violence and the horrible nature of premeditated murder is such that even people in states that don’t have the death penalty tend, in certain, if not in many cases of premeditated murder, to say that it would be exactly the right penalty.

There’s something within us that cries out that premeditated murder requires something more than a long time, even a very long time in prison. Now, as we’re looking at the reality that being in prison doesn’t mean that you will stay in prison, we understand the stakes are even higher. But those words, spoken by Nicholas Cruz himself, they are absolutely chilling, and they need to be on the record in such a way that at least we know as a civilization what we have decided does not deserve the death penalty.

Once again, I am in the state of North Carolina. At least some controversy that emerged here has to do with the school system in Wake County adopting a proposed diversity, equity, and inclusion policy or DEI. The reality of what that kind of policy represents was made clear by a librarian at one of the county’s high schools who said, “I am here filled with hope that this equity policy discussed here today will come to fruition with the updated inclusive language of our LGBTQ students, our special education students, our English language learners.” You’ll notice how all that is put together as if this is absolutely flat.

She went on to say, “This policy has the potential to define how Wake County public school system views equity.” Now, the inclusion of LBTQ issues here is absolutely predictable. It just adds another dimension to the toxic reality of identity politics, which also fuels the moral revolution.

Part III

‘There is Nothing Texas about Texas Pete’: Man Files Class Action Lawsuit Against Hot Sauce Company after He Discovers Its North Carolina Roots

But there’s another big controversy here in North Carolina, and it has to do with Texas Pete. It has to do with hot sauce. It has to do with hot sauce that is identified as Texas Pete, one of the leading brands. It turns out that Texas Pete is made, and has always been made, in the state of North Carolina, not in Texas. And Pete, well, Pete was a North Carolinian as well.

A man in California who bought a bottle of Texas Pete, believing that it was from Texas, is suing and leading a class action lawsuit, yes, believe it or not, over a $3 bottle of hot sauce. According to news reports, he is arguing that the bottle’s imagery, that is the label, including a cartoon cowboy spinning a lasso underneath the state’s flag, its famed white Lone Star is also there, “duped him into believing the sauce was from Texas and is therefore deceptive.”

He filed the complaint on September the 12th, “There is nothing Texas about Texas Pete,” says the 49-page complaint. McClatchy Newspapers gives us the report and also gives us the background: “Texas Pete hot sauce has existed in the United States for nearly 100 years after it debuted in 1929 when the decade of the Great Depression began.” According to the McClatchy Newspapers report, “A man named Sam Garner and his three sons created a spicy sauce that needed an American name. Garner suggested combining Texas due to the state’s spicy cuisine reputation and the nickname of his son, which was Pete.” The story continues, “Now, the TW Garner Food Company factory, built in 1942, is located where the Garner family home once stood in Northwest Winston-Salem, Texas. No, wait just a minute! Northwest Winston-Salem, North Carolina.”

Now, if you’re looking for a scandal or controversy, no doubt this one is hot and spicy because Texas Pete turns out not to be from Texas. This is now led to a class action lawsuit. The lawsuit alleges that the TW Garner Food Company located, remember, in North Carolina, “has cheated its way to a market-leading position in the hot sauce industry.” Wait just a minute! In the $3 billion hot sauce industry. How much do Americans spend on hot sauce in the United States? $3 billion a year. That’s a lot of hot. That’s a lot of spicy. That’s a lot of Texas Pete, which, right now, means a lot of controversy, which may end up with selling even more at Texas Pete, and a $3 billion industry being even larger.

You do have to wonder what the people of Texas think about Texas Pete. Because as this news story makes clear, the product is actually made in North Carolina and always has been. This lawsuit is coming from California. When it comes to Texas and Texas Pete, evidently, go figure. But I tell you what would get the attention of Texans: a $3 billion industry in red liquid.

Thanks for listening to the Briefing.

For more information, go to my website at You can follow me on Twitter by going to For information on The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, go to For information on Boyce College, just go to I’m not sitting here with Texas Pete, but I’m speaking to you from Cary, North Carolina.

Now, I’ll meet you again tomorrow for The Briefing.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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