Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Brittney Cooper on Kim Davis and Her Handlers: "Social Grammar of White Evangelicalism Inheres in the Deployment of Moral Claims to Obscure the Systemic Operations of Structural Inequality"

Following on yesterday's Liberty Counsel-Rev. Mike Huckabee faux "religious liberty" show involving Kim Davis, some outstanding commentary this morning to which I'd like to point you:

At Salon, Brittney Cooper notes how Ms. Davis is being used by her handlers Huckabee and Staver et al., who have goals that go far beyond this county clerk in an off-the-beaten-path county in Kentucky. Their real goal is to deploy moral claims driven by culture-war fixations, to obscure the systemic operations of structural inequality. And this is being done by Ms. Davis's hander's in service to their  own handlers, economic elites using culture-war issues to divide and conquer as the consolidate their power over the rest of us:

Kim Davis and all her antics, not to mention her eclectic intimate choices, are low-hanging fruit. The moral and political chicanery of conservative evangelical Christianity is the real problem here. Fifty years ago, white evangelicals believed that Black people were the children of Ham, and that they were therefore cursed and morally conscripted to lives of less value than those of white people. In the 1960s, county clerks were the first line of assault on the dignity and personhood of Black people, come to exercise their right to vote. 
Contemporary evangelicalism still refuses to grapple in any serious way with the extent to which it serves as the wingman for white supremacy. Yes, some evangelical pastors write and talk about the "sin of racism." They discuss it as though racism is a problem of individually sinful attitudes. They act as though racism will be solved if individual white people learn to love individual black people and vice versa. Such teachings stay away from critiquing failing school systems or culturally incompetent teachers, or the school to prison pipeline, or the effects of white privilege on the ability of Black people to get jobs, or the way that Republican social policy reinforces all these systems of power. 
The social grammar of white evangelicalism inheres in the deployment of moral claims to obscure the systemic operations of structural inequality.

As C. Robert Gibson points out in an op-ed statement today in Al Jazeera America, though her handlers want to present Kim Davis as a new Rosa Parks or Martin Luther King, Jr., those civil rights activists fought for the rights of people shut out of the system, not against them, as Kim Davis and her handlers do. The much more accurate historical parallel, Gibson notes, is between Davis and Alabama governor George Wallace as he stood in a doorway of the University of Alabama, blocking black students from entering and intoning, "Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever."

Davis and her ilk keep appealing to the First Amendment and their "deeply held religious beliefs," insisting they are on the side of righteousness. But their actions breed a culture of fear, ignorance, and marginalization—which, in ways both tangible and visceral, injure fellow Kentuckians.

In a well-governed pluralistic secular democracy aiming at holding society together as conflicting interests collide, and at serving the common good, "religious freedom" is not a get-out-of-jail-free card that allows the person shouting this mantra to do anything he or she wants to do, as long as he/she cites deeply held religious belief. Religious freedom is not an unrestricted right.

It coheres with the rights of other people, in a pluralistic secular democracy. And when it seeks to trample on the rights of other people with claims that sincerely held religious belief trumps everything else, a democracy that wants to hold together and serve the common good has no choice except to yank the get-out-of-jail-free card. 

Until its bearer chooses to respect the rights of folks he or she may or many not choose to respect as human beings . . . .

The clip is from Rachel Maddow's MSNBC show yesterday evening. When you watch it, you'll no doubt see immediately what I mean when I speak of Ms. Davis's "handlers" and how she's being used in a spectacle that — as Brittney Cooper points out so brilliantly — far transcends Kim Davis's own small life.

No comments: