Can We Stop Asking Minorities to Apologize?
Friday morning I awoke to a social media world filled with posts praising several Islamic leaders in the American south who had come forward and apologized for the shooting in Chattanooga yesterday. White Christians were so happy that Muslims were doing this, they couldn’t wait to brag about it to the world. In the bizarre world of pop-evangelical Christianity, this is what reconciliation looks like. You see, to them, reconciliation looks like “others” asking for forgiveness. Or when “others” are granting forgiveness to the wayward sons of whiteness; like when the members of Emmanuael AME Church publicly forgave Dylann Roof for the murders he had just committed. These acts just give everyone the feel-goods! “Finally,” they relent, “the Muslims get it. Finally. The blacks get it.”
Now let me introduce you to concept known as “respectability politics.” A simple Google search will give you a good working definition:
Respectability politics or the politics of respectability refers to attempts by marginalized groups to police their own members and show their social values as being continuous and compatible with mainstream values rather than challenging the mainstream for its failure to accept difference.
We should add to that, the rules of respectability politics are set by the dominant culture to suit their agenda: maintaining status quo. Moreover, this kind of expectation is used in mass to dismiss the voice of unruly members of marginalized peoples, even when they are speaking the truth. This is power dynamics 101. Or, The Gospel 101, (see the death of John the Baptist and Jesus).
Every time I hear a member of the dominant culture fire away at a minority, or marginalized group, that they should apologize for the crimes of one (or a group) of their constituency, I cringe. It makes no sense! Does the white church feel compelled to apologize for every horrible thing one of our own does? No. Because we have no one we have to prove our credibility to by being “respectable.” Moreover, not only is it not reasonable, it’s not even possible—because alleged white Christians do a lot of horrible things every day. There is simply not enough time or people to do all the apologizing necessary.
And then there’s Franklin Graham, who couldn’t wait to take a stab at the Islamic community. Here’s what this great thinker came up with:
Four innocent Marines killed and three others wounded in #Chattanooga yesterday including a policeman and another Marine–all by a radical Muslim whose family was allowed to immigrate to this country from Kuwait. We are under attack by Muslims at home and abroad. We should stop all immigration of Muslims to the U.S. until this threat with Islam has been settled. Every Muslim that comes into this country has the potential to be radicalized–and they do their killing to honor their religion and Muhammad. During World War 2, we didn’t allow Japanese to immigrate to America, nor did we allow Germans. Why are we allowing Muslims now? Do you agree? Let your Congressman know that we’ve got to put a stop to this and close the flood gates. Pray for the men and women who serve this nation in uniform, that God would protect them.
His solution: bar everyone who looks like the killer and who shares the same religion as the killer, because that makes sense… because, in pop-evangelical Christian bizzaro world that’s logical. Yet, no one is calling for all Tennesseeians to be remain in Tenessee. Clearly Tennesseeians with guns cannot be trusted. And I haven’t heard one Tennesseeian apologize to the USMC for producing such a citizen. So why haven’t we closed the borders to Tennessee? Because it’s illogical. It’s stupid. The heir to the Graham empire has again proven he’s not the brightest crayon the box.
But what’s worse? The fact that more than an “okay” amount of people agree with Graham! If the above Facebook post wasn’t enough to make your blood boil, Lord help you if you clicked on and read through the comments. Proof again, that America is full of hate-filled ignoramuses. I should probably stop here, before I get into the top quality stories that the Conservative Tribune put out yesterday. They published this ridiculous article, which is aimed to provoke us to shock and anger that the President didn’t take a stab at Muslims during his remarks to them about the end of Ramadan. That’s right, they actually published this statement:
Obama failed to mention the attack, but did mention a number of other things as a (shortsighted) attempt to counterbalance… That’s it. No statement about the tragedy that happened during the holy month, no rebuke of religious extremism, and certainly no use of the phrase “radical Islam.”
Exactly how racist do you have to be to want the president to take an ethnic and religious holiday and make it a bully pulpit? The only saving grace for the Conservative Tribune is that their website is filled with so much spam and poor site design that most of their audience won’t actually be able to find the article. And for that, we should all be a little grateful.