Friday, November 11, 2016

Reports from Every Corner of the Nation of Verbal or Physical Attacks on Members of Vulnerable Minority Communities: What the White Christian Vote Has Wrought

John Pavlovitz, "White Christians Who Voted for Donald Trump: Fix This. Now."

Look, I don't know if I'm doing much good flapping my lips here. The problems we are facing as a human community (and, in the U.S., as a nation, are enormous), and the lip-flapping doesn't seem to help much when all is said and done. I don't, and most of the people who read this blog and respond to it don't, have the power within the institutions of our society to make a real dent, to change much at all.

And that's to a large degree why I had decided not to blog this week, after the elections. I try to tell myself that sharing articles I've run across online isn't really blogging and performs a service to others, though I suspect many readers of this blog already read widely and don't need these pointers. 

But then when I think of falling silent, I think of this: all over the U.S. since the election of Donald Trump, there are reports — from every corner of the nation — of verbal or physical attacks on members of vulnerable minority communities by people shouting slogans Trump has placed in their mouths, people claiming they're acting in Trump's name as they assault others. These attacks have proliferated so rapidly in just two days that websites have been set up to try to keep documenting them (more on this in a subsequent posting). Twitter is a constant stream these past two days of reports of these incidents.

Meanwhile, people who want to normalize a completely abnormal situation — and some of these are people who did not vote for Trump but want to believe in the broken system and are, they say, too tired to fight now — want to tell us to stop seeing these incidents or talking about them. "Let's just all get along and pull together," they say — pulling a veil over the indecency that we have just empowered in this election. Pretending. Blaming those who open their mouths, as if they are the cause of the violence and hatred that this election quite deliberately set into motion.

If we do all of this — shut up, "get along," pretend — who, I ask myself, is going to speak up for the African-American children who now go to school after the election and find the N- word written on bathroom walls and blackboards? Or should we just pretend, as the mainstream media that helped put Donald Trump in the White House are already doing, that most of these reports are simply fabricated, that none of this is happening, that the stream of tweets reporting incidents of attacks on members of minority communities are somehow not real documentation of something that is really happening right in front of our eyes, if we choose to open them and look?

Should we pretend along with Trump's solid base of Christian supporters that Jesus never said our salvation depends on how we treat the least among us? Should we pretend that Jesus' moral concerns were, after all, intently focused on how wrong it is to bake cakes for dirty F-ts, and on zygotes (but never post-birth human beings) — things he talks about all the time, in the gospels, doesn't he?

I've been called mentally disturbed and angry on social media sites in the last day as I try to discuss these issues with others. Those tags — angry, mentally cracked — are the kind of pseudo-disgnostic dismissive tags often given by powerful males, the sort of straight white men who put Trump into office along with his solid Christian base, to women who have dared to speak out about misogyny. (And, yes, the people tagging me in this way on social media sites are straight white males.)

I don't really care, to be honest, if these folks think I'm crazy or "angry." What I do care about is the question, If I don't speak up about what's happening now, who will do so? And how will I live with myself for remaining silent when I saw this happening? Who will be a voice for those black children, Latino children, Muslim children, immigrant children who are having their lives made living hells in school by other children whose parents have instilled hate in them in the name of Donald Trump, if you and I remain silent? Will our newspapers feature stories about this as they now normalize the totally abnormal.

I think not. They didn't sound a warning bell about what we could all see coming before Trump was elected. Why would they do so now?

Nor will those powerful straight white males who want to tag anyone who speaks up about these matters as angry and crazy let themselves be a voice for people like this. Their lives don't in any way intersect with the lives of these children being subjected to torment — and they imagine that they and their own children will never be treated this way.

For now, at least.

If we remain wilfully blind and wilfully silent about what has begun in this new American era, we become complicit — in the same way that "good" Germans, the vast majority of them Christians, were complicit as a similar process got underway in the 1930s in Germany.

So that's one reason I keep flapping my lips. I have been sharing reports about these incidents of hateful assault, as well, because I really do care about what it means to be a Christian (though my faith does not exclude, but embraces, people of other religions or no religious commitment at all, and, yes, atheists, who have very important things to teach people of faith). If we allow the white Christians who put Trump into office to disclaim responsibility for the hate and violence now pouring forth to target members of minority communities, many of them children, we really debase the coinage of Christian belief in the very same way all the white Christians who voted for Trump have done.

We must not now ever let ourselves forget who has brought us this world of hurt: white U.S. Christians. Nor must we allow ourselves to forget the voices of those being targeted and hurt, as they cry out in pain, while the official voices of the gurus who spin the news at our Catholic journal sites babble on about "God" and "good news" and "love" and "healing" as they begin spinning what is taking place in our country as about, oh, everything in the world except racism, white-supremacist ethno-nationalism, misogyny, xenophobia, and homophobia . . .

Dished up to us by the very church for which they are a mouthpiece in the powerful journalistic sector of our society.

This is why I keep talking, vain though I suspect the talking is. And it's why, I suppose, I'm really blogging this week even when I said I was not going to do so. After the initial shock of the election, when the hate began pouring forth as anyone with eyes to see could see was certainly going to be the case following this election, someone has to talk about what's going on.

Don't we?

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