Fight Poverty, Not the Poor; “White Genocide”

America is something we do, not something we are. It is an idea that can be shared by anyone who is inspired to share it.

poor people's campaignRev. Liz Theoharis from the The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, came to my church this past weekend. It was a very meaningful event on Saturday night and Sunday morning.

Part of the scripture reading was the beginning of Isaiah 10 (NIV): “Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people.”

But beyond the message was the relational connections. I knew a LOT of people there, and not just my fellow parishioners. There’s a colleague from the North Country, way above Albany, who attended. He’d heard Liz speak on videos and wanted to see her in person. I sent him this Faith in Public Life webinar on Census 2020, trying to include everyone.

One friend shocked another – they had never met each other – in discussing John Calvin, the progenitor of Presbyterianism and his role in the burning of Michael Servetus. As the Calvinist said, “We never learned about THAT in my confirmation class.”

Still another buddy was stunned by the assertion, by me and another, that the National Rifle Association, founded 1871, was actually a largely non-partisan group in its first century. It’s only been since the 1970s that it became radically politicized.

Even someone breaking into our church at 4 a.m. on Sunday – a broken door window, but nothing of value apparently taken – did not cancel out the meaningfulness of the weekend.

The talk Saturday night, of course, began with more than a moment of silence for those massacred in New Zealand. I really have no words that aren’t better expressed by Arthur the AmeriNZ.

He too is incredibly impressed by the Kiwi Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who offered “the strongest possible condemnation of the ideology of the people who did this. You may have chosen us, but we utterly reject and condemn you.”

I was likewise taken by the Weekly Sift guy, Doug Muder, who managed to read the whole 70+-page “manifesto” of the gunman, something I was not able to stomach. Muder wrote Fear of White Genocide: the underground stream feeding right-wing causes.

A key paragraph of the Weekly Sift rebuttal: “In my view, America (or Western culture, for that matter) isn’t something that arises from the essential nature of the White race. America is something we do, not something we are. It is an idea that can be shared by anyone who is inspired to share it.”

I suppose it’s important to understand the hate mentality, though I’m not convinced that comprehension will be enough to stem the tide of bigotry. But I do see a linkage between the attack on the poor and attacks on racial/ethnic/religious “others.” It’s driven by fear.

It’s sometimes difficult to remember that most people are good and kind and just trying to get through life like the rest of us.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

7 thoughts on “Fight Poverty, Not the Poor; “White Genocide””

  1. There need to be a national discussion on poverty. But I little I seen about the poor person campaign it to speak of more population area.
    I hope you don’t mind me asking…what denomination is church you attend that Rev. Liz Theoharis

    Coffee is on

  2. I forgot to tell you that if not for the Weekly Sift, I’d never have had any idea what was in the terrorists screed. First because I wouldn’t have been able to get through it, but also because, if I understand correctly, it’s been classified as “objectionable” making it an offence to possess or distribute (exactly like the video he made of himself doing his attack). But even if I misunderstood that classification, I have no interest in reading his stupid rubbish. Thanks to the Weekly Sift, I know everything I need to know.

  3. Well, I was wrong earlier, but The “manifesto” is now classified as “objectionable” by the Office of Film and Literature Classification. According to Stuff, “This means sharing or downloading the document or the contents of it is now a criminal offence under NZ law.” Not sure if that means I can no longer read the Weekly Sift piece.

  4. since when did new Zealand become a muslim ready country ,seriously people that I know there live off the land and there will be a fight if the government tries to take what they call weapons ,many dislike the female Islamic docile prime minister ,the one who wears the hijab and does the call to prayer ,Christchurch was founded by Christians ,believers in the judao god .not islamicists

  5. It is the belief of every Christian I’ve encountered that the leadership of Jacinda Ardern is the kind we wish were available elsewhere. She has high approval rating in her country. You are equating likely American reaction to such a gun ban to the Kiwi one. If you knew your religious history, you’d know the Judeo=Christian God and the Islamic God are one.

  6. Well, since it was brought up so politely, there are a few facts that need to be mentioned.

    1. New Zealand welcomes all immigrants who share our values and meet the legal requirements, or who arrive here as a UN-sanctioned refugee. We do not discriminate on the bases of religion, race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other category.

    According to the 2013 NZ Census (the most recent figures available), Christians (of all kinds) make up 48% of the the New Zealand population, 42% have no religion, 4% refused to answer, and the rest are various mainly non-Christian religions, including Muslims, who make up around 1.1%.

    2. The New Zealand population is approximately 86% urban, so the vast majority of us absolutely do not “live off the land”.

    3. The only weapons being taken away are Military Style Semi-Automatic (MSSA) weapons and assault rifles. This will not be a problem, and more than a thousand have already been turned over to police voluntarily, including by farmers, and before the details of the buy-back scheme have been announced. Having a gun in New Zealand is a privilege, not a right, and that’s the way we want it. Also, “self defence” is not a legal reason to have a gun in New Zealand.

    3. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is polling dramatically higher than any other political leader, 7 times higher than the next highest politicians—and that poll was released in February, about a month before the terrorist attack in Christchurch. She will be much more popular now.

    4. The Prime Minister wore a scarf out of respect for the Muslim community, as did thousands and thousands of non-Muslim women throughout New Zealand, in big cities and small towns and on farms. All of the victims of the terrorist attack were Muslim, and they were targeted by a white supremacist specifically because they were Muslim. It would have been wrong to ignore that fact; it was right to show respect to the victims. The Prime Minister did not lead the call to prayer, of course, because that is only ever done by a Muslim, usually a Muslim man. The call to prayer was broadcast nationally last Friday, immediately before the two-minute silence. Mainstream New Zealanders did not object to that, and, upon hearing it, those of us who are not Muslim did not burst into flames or suddenly become Muslim. Surprisingly, we could just simply experience it—something most of us had never heard before. I’m told that this is the sort of respectful behaviour that grown-ups do regularly.

    5. New Zealand was actually settled by non-Christians—the Māori people. They were here centuries (approximately 1,000 years) before Christchurch was founded. Muslims, like Christians, have been in New Zealand since colonial times (that period being approximately late 19th to early 20th Centuries), as have Buddhists, atheists, and pretty much every other belief system around.

    6. New Zealand has no established—which means official—religion. All people are free to follow whatever religion they choose, or none at all. That’s not at all unusual among Western Nations. Even the United Kingdom, which does have an established religion, guarantees complete religious freedom to all people. So does the US Constitution.

    7. New Zealand values diversity. The USA has the slogan, E Pluribus Unum, which means out of many, one. New Zealand lives that every day: To us, our diversity is a strength.

    It’s too bad that some people can’t accept that New Zealand is not just like their country. We are a fiercely independent nation (we are nuclear free, for example, and we were the first nation in the world to give women the right to vote). We alone will determine our path, and we don’t really care what foreigners think about that. Which is actually something that most people in most countries share, interestingly enough. Maybe it would be better to focus on that rather than complain that another country is acting as it sees fit.

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