A quick note to let you know about this situation, in case it explodes in some way in threads here: those who have followed postings here for some time may know that I posted a number of pieces back in September 2013 about comments (ugly ones) left here by a gentleman living in Nairobi, Mr. Njonjo Ndehi (see here, here, and here).
Mr. Ndehi popped up again last evening with a comment I've deleted. It doesn't foster serious conversation, in my judgment. What it does foster is, well, the opposite of constructive conversation aiming at loving or redemptive solutions to controversial social issues.
Mr. Ndehi states,
Sodomy and abortion are legal in western countries but illegal in Kenya. Polygamy and slaughtering animals at home are legal in Kenya but illegal in western countries. Don't interfere with our culture because we don't interfere with yours, you ethnocentric racists.
Mr. Ndehi left his comment here on the heels of a raid conducted by the police on the offices of an AIDS assistance organization in the nation of Uganda, a neighbor to his nation of Kenya. This raid, which targets an organization providing medical care and other forms of assistance to people living with HIV, is one among many predictable ugly consequences of the new laws in Uganda specifically targeting a vulnerable minority group, LGBT citizens.
The world is full enough of hate and misery. What it needs, instead, is love and hope.
Christians like Mr. Ndehi, who has stated in comments here that he was educated in a school run by the Catholic organization Opus Dei, who celebrate the immiseration of gay people and applaud the subjection of women to men, seem, from my way of seeing things, rather far removed from the gospel message, which tells us to love and then love some more, to reach out in compassion to those who are sick, and to choose peacemaking rather than acts of violence.
I have chosen not to permit Mr. Ndehi to use my blog as a vehicle for injecting toxins into a conversation about a targeted minority group, a conversation that is already infected with all sorts of poisons — which are leading to acts of outright violence against members of that targeted minority group in various parts of his continent right now. Acts of violence that ought to concern the entire human community, because of what they portend for all of our futures if someone does not step in to stop the spiral of violence . . . .
Ironically, Mr. Ndehi claims that those promoting tolerance and respect for gay human beings are ethnocentric racists interfering with his native African cultures — when there's abundant evidence that the violent homophobia now on display in various nations of Africa has been deliberately engineered by the American Christian right. And when Zambian Episcopal priest Kapya Kaoma and South African Anglican bishop Desmond Tutu, among other African political and religious leaders, speak out to deplore the homophobic laws being set into place in some parts of Africa, and the violence ensuing from those laws.
I've deleted Mr. Ndehi's comment — while also publicizing it in this posting — because I want to do my own tiny bit to stop the spiral of violence before it gets further out of hand. Again, irony: Mr. Ndehi left his comment here just as I had been reading about the violence that sprang up in northwest Louisiana as Reconstruction took place there in the 1870s. I've been reading Congressional reports containing first-hand testimony about the murders of one person after another, several of them members of my own family, by the terroristic White League because they were considered too soft on people of color recently freed from slavery, or, in one case, because they opened a school to teach former slaves how to read and write.
Many of these firsthand reports state that if the White League did not murder those it targeted, it either waylaid them and beat them to a pulp, whipped them with whips, or sent committees to them warning them to leave the state, or they'd be strung from the nearest tree. Three of the sisters of one of my great-grandfather left Louisiana with their husbands and families at this point. The husbands's names are in the list of those who had been warned by the White League to leave the state. Among those beaten and murdered were, of course, recently freed slaves who had incurred the wrath of the White League in some way.
And so I wonder, just a little bit, about Mr. Ndehi's certainty that all of us Westerners working to defend the human rights of any vulnerable minority group unfairly targeted by powerful groups in our societies are "ethnocentric racists." It strikes me that perhaps his Opus Dei schooling didn't do all it might have done to educate him about the complexity of the history of his own country and that of other countries.
And about respect for human rights as a building block of any vibrant pluralistic democracy . . . . Human rights are not negotiable. In any area.
The graphic is from the Kürt Lowenstein Educational Center International Team by way of Wikimedia Commons.