Friday, March 10, 2017

Religion and Politics in the News: "It Is No Surprise to Me That Online Debate Has Become the International Sport of Cis White Men"

An assortment of items I've read in the past few days on religion, politics, culture — and their intersection — in American public discourse right now; these range from commentary on women's rights and misogyny to white supremacy to homophobia to anti-Semitism and Islamophobia:

Ijeoma Oluo, "When a Woman Deletes a Man's Comment Online": 

We live in a world where the most hotly debated issues surround questions of women's rights, health care, racism and racial oppression, immigration, trans rights, reproductive rights, and religious discrimination. To be able to take issues fundamental to the health and safety of millions of people and turn them into sport where winners and losers are decided by talking points requires some level of insulation from the negative impacts of the outcome in order to enjoy participating. 
It is no surprise to me that online debate has become the international sport of cis white men. Those who are least likely to be negatively impacted by the outcomes of discussions regarding the rights of marginalized people, who are driven by little more than ego and the risk of slight discomfort if society is made more equal, can gleefully jump from post to post, forum to forum, challenging the heartfelt pleas of those most at risk. "Well actuallys" are flung at those working for justice and equality like drive-bys of apathy. And those who are fighting for their lives are then forced to battle each challenger bearing advanced degrees in Google and entitlement in order to prevent the outright dismissal of their lived experience.

Sister Simone Campbell at an interview at the Vatican on the eve of International Women's Day, as reported by Josephine McKenna

"Blocked by men. Isn't this the real problem within the church?" . . . "It is about male power and male image, not people's stories. The real trouble is they have defined their power as spiritual leadership and they don't have a clue about spiritual life."

James K. A. Smith, "The New Alarmism: How Some Christians Are Stoking Fear Rather than Hope":

[T]he new alarmism is something different. It is tinged with a bitterness and resentment and sense of loss that carries a whiff of privileged threatened rather than witness compromised. When [Rod] Dreher, for example, laments the "loss of a world," several people notice that world tends to be white. And what seems to be lost is a certain default power and privilege. When Dreher imagines "vibrant Christianity," it is on the other side of the globe. He doesn't see the explosion of African churches in the heart of New York City or the remarkable growth of Latino Protestantism. The fear seems suspiciously tied to white erosion.

Smith's article features, front and center, a photo of alt-trad Philadelphia cardinal Charles Chaput lifting a chalice — white Catholic pride.

Sonali Kolhatkar: "Get Used to It, America: Brown People Are Here to Stay":

The year 2011 was the first time more nonwhite babies were born in the U.S. compared with white babies, and 2050 is projected to be the year when the nation as a whole will become a "majority minority" state. 
This inevitable trend frightens many white Americans. A 2014 psychology study showed as much, reporting that white respondents reacted negatively to ideas of diversity and multiculturalism when presented with graphics of this trend. One reviewer concluded that the study proved that 'when white people sense their special status is threatened, it changes how they view politics and the world.' He added, quite presciently, "Certainly worth keeping an eye on as American politics adapt to a changing demographic landscape." 
We may imagine that young whites are more progressive than their elders. It is an often-expressed sentiment that racism in the U.S. will simply die out along with older, white Americans. A look at those who voted for Trump in last November’s election reveals otherwise. Forty-eight percent of white Americans ages 18-29 voted for Trump, compared with 43 percent who voted for Hillary Clinton. Studies confirm that youthfulness among whites does not tame racist sentiments. Bannon, Trump and their ilk are desperately trying to save the sinking ship of white supremacy and are counting on white Americans, young and old, to back them.

Fred Clark responds to Pastor Rick Wiles' claim that opposition to Trump is being led by a cabal of satanic baby-killers:  

Wiles here is simply saying the quiet parts loud. He's saying directly what the rest of white evangelical culture says indirectly — what that culture believes, and what it requires its members to believe. What Wiles offers is a distillation of that belief — the central, bedrock foundation of contemporary white evangelicalism — in its starkest form. His raving may be the reductio, but he didn’t invent the ad absurdum part — that can be found, in a more palatably sophisticated form, right there on the CT editorial page. 
It's all about those Satanic baby-killers — "the darkest, most disgusting, vilest corruption you can imagine." It's about imagining it so hard that you almost start to believe it. So hard that you can almost convince yourself that politicians and celebrities and TV anchormen and, well, just about everyone who isn't us are really nothing more than "child molesters — not only molesters, but child murderers, sacrificing children to Satan."

Chauncey DeVega: "Trump's Election Has Created 'Safe Spaces' for Racists: 

There's a big spike in hate crimes, says the director of SPLC's Intelligence Project — and "Trump is the cause."

Matt Ferner, "Jewish Leaders Frustrated by Lack of Progress in Bomb Threat Probe": 

There have now been at least 110 threats made to over 80 Jewish community centers in more than 30 states since January. 

Jack Jenkins: "Mosques Are Getting Bomb Threats, Too": 

While the issue hasn’t been as headline-grabbing as the recurring waves of bomb threats directed at Jewish community centers across the country since January, American mosques and Islamic organizations have been enduring their own onslaught of hate incidents this year. 
Over the weekend, at least two mosques — one in Cincinnati, Ohio, the other in Lexington, Kentucky—received bomb threats from unknown sources.

Charles Pierce, "It Takes Something Seismic to Get This Group Protesting," on contention among Mennonites in GOP-friendly Lancaster Co., Pennsylvania, over Trump's targeting of immigrants: 

The Mennonites are in the street. Something's building out there.

Joshua Miller, reporting on Senator Joe Kennedy's response to Paul Ryan and his Trumpcare proposal:

I was struck last night by a comment that I heard made by Speaker Ryan, where he called this repeal bill "an act of mercy." With all due respect to our speaker, he and I must have read different Scripture…The one I read calls on us to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to shelter the homeless, and to comfort the sick. It reminds us that we are judged not by how we treat the powerful, but by how we care for the least among us. There is no mercy in a system that makes health care a luxury. There is no mercy in a country that turns their back on those most in need of protection: the elderly, the poor, the sick, and the suffering. There is no mercy in a cold shoulder to the mentally ill. This is not an act of mercy. It is an act of malice.

A statement that Charles Pierce calls "a lesson in actual Catholicism" (as opposed to the kind of Catholicism Speaker Ryan promotes with the blessing of the U.S. Catholic bishops).

Mark Silk, "Why Can't We Accommodate Florists Denying Services to Gay Couples?" 

Once upon a time, there were lots of Americans who sincerely believed that miscegenation was against their religion, and I expect there are still a few who do. Some of them may even be florists (or bakers or photographers or invitation designers) who object to providing services to interracial couples on their way to the altar.
So here's the issue. 
If you think small business owners should be allowed to discriminate against any customer on the basis of any sincerely held religious belief, then fine. Be it same-sex marriage or interracial marriage or interfaith marriage or whatever marriage, the objecting service provider gets to have her way. 
But if you want to forbid florists from refusing service to mixed-race couples but allow Baronelle Stutzman et al. to refuse service to a same-sex couples, you have to come up with some persuasive secular reason for considering discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation less deserving of legal protection than discrimination on the basis of race. 
I can't.

To which Reader Adrift replied this morning when I tweeted Mark Silk's article with its statements about what many Americans believed about miscegenation and the bible "once upon a time":

Reader Adrift is absolutely correct about this. Belief that interracial marriage is prohibited by the bible and that the bible supports white supremacy and calls for the subordination of darker-skinned people to people with lighter complexions has hardly vanished from the American heartland. Perhaps East Coast commentators would be well-served by a few visits to, say, Arkansas and Mississippi — not to mention Idaho or Wyoming or even the "liberal" state of Oregon.

The graphic, which brings to mind a quote attributed to theologian Karl Barth that does not precisely correspond to anything he said — "Read the newspaper with the bible in one hand and the newspaper in another" — is at many online sites. I do not spot any indications on these sites of its ultimate origin.

No comments: