In an essay entitled "The 'Marginalization' of Tim Keller: When Anything Short of Adulation Is Oppression," Anita Little, editor of the Remapping American Christianities initiative at Religion Dispatches, comments on Jonathan Merritt's insistence that Tim Keller is being "marginalized" by the liberals who objected to his receiving an award from Princeton Seminary (on this controversy, see my two previous postings, here and here). She writes,
He [Jonathan Merritt] kept using that word 'marginalized,' but to quote Inigo Montoya, I don't think it means what he thinks it means? He later walked back his eyebrow-raising choice via Twitter, saying different wording "might have been more appropriate."
But the blunder was evidence of a growing trend to cry "oppression" when the opinions of influential white men in highly esteemed positions are called into question, or claim "bullying" when actually marginalized groups respond with anything outside of capitulation. . . .
When asked about Merritt's use of the word "marginalized" and the dominant narrative among some conservative Christians like Eric Metaxas who feel Keller is being "bullied," [Princeton seminary student Jasmin] Figueroa was incredulous:
"Keller? The guy with a platform and money and prestige and influence? One of the biggest theological influencers in the evangelical and Reformed worlds? I’m sure that he's not going to miss that $10,000, and there’s certainly not a shortage of platforms for him. And PTS isn’t even denying him that."
To which I say a hearty yep. White males and the conservative and centrist chatter-spheres that promote their interests have been getting a lot of mileage out of claims that mean liberals are "bullying" anyone who disagrees with them — when, in fact, they're simply being given for the first time in many years a run for their money vis-a-vis their pretensions to be the center of the universe. This "bullying" rhetoric, which was never very persuasive in the first place, is now exceedingly stale, and it's embarrassing to see it continuing to crop up over and over at centrist Catholic discussion sites like Commonweal, suggesting that those sites exist primarily to promote the interests of straight white males while pretending to be welcoming discussion spaces about what it means for a church to be catholic.
The photograph of Anita Little is from her biography page at Religion Dispatches.