Saturday, March 30, 2019

Friday, March 15, 2019

Dear fellow white people. We have a problem. There is a recurrence and spread of a cancer among us: of racism, Islamophobia, white nationalism, bigotry, xenophobia, hatred of immigrants, and gross intolerance. At the extreme end of the spectrum it manifests in shootings--at mosques, at synagogues, at churches.

But there is a much, much larger "middle" of this cancerous spectrum--a seemingly less extreme majority that feeds the most extreme minority.

I read the "manifesto" written by the New Zealand mosque gunman. What made me feel saddened and sickened was that I recognized much of the rhetoric within it. It was familiar. I've heard it on right-wing Christian talk radio programs. I've heard it from conservative pundits on radio and television (just this week, two Fox News pundits have come under scrutiny for their strident anti-Muslim rhetoric). I've seen it posted by friends on Facebook, and heard it parroted during conversations.

Doctors advise women and men to examine themselves for early signs of cancer. To feel their breasts and testicles for that tell-tale small lump that may point to a life-threatening disease.
Men and women of Christian European descent, we have a disease in our midst, and it threatens many lives. We need to examine ourselves, individually and collectively. Do we foster, or tolerate, or propigate harmful right-wing and bigoted attitudes, ideas, and rhetoric against people who are not like us? Do we subtly (and perhaps, we think, harmlessly) feed the monster of hatred in this world? Are we incremental enablers of disgusting violent actions like the mosque shootings in New Zealand, the synagogue shootings in Pittsburgh, the church shootings in Charleston, the Sikh temple shootings in Wisconsin, the youth summer camp shootings in Norway, the federal building bombing in Oklahoma City?

Back in the days of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda, a common refrain among non-Muslims was "Why doesn't the Muslim world denounce this extremism?" In reality, Muslims did denounce it--clearly and often. But now the shoe is on the other foot. It is the opportunity of every white person, of every media pundit, of every preacher and politician to denounce in no uncertain terms all forms of rhetoric against non-whites and non-Christians and immigrants and those who are different in whatever way.  And it's time for some deep introspection and sincere repentence for any part we may have played in allowing these ideas, these attitudes, this rhetoric, this violence of thought and word and deed, to exist in our midst.