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Islamophobia, Glass Factories, and “THEM”

BrokenGlass

“The problem is never going to go away.
Tell them that they have 24 hours to get the fuck out.
Then turn that whole region into a GLASS FACTORY.”

Wow.

Coffee table conversation at dinner parties yields the strangest schools of thoughts. Comments on how best to deal with far off problems can go beautifully with a nice glass of merlot.

 

A “glass factory.” Glass, by the way, is what the earth turns into at ground zero of a nuclear detonation.

Was that coming from the latest même out of Westboro Baptist church? From some crazy minister calling for ethnic cleansing of Arabs? From a secular far right (or left) survivalist group?  We know that this sort of thinking is nuts right?

No. It came from someone at a dinner party from a progressive church – one of my safe places in this world.  My safe place suddenly didn’t feel so safe.

“Oh, well, he was just drunk, saying something stupid.”

~

A man named Gary Cass wrote some scary things (and I would call them stupid, but that’s just me).

I could disregard them, because he seems to be more than a little off. You know – “COO COO” – in calling for the ethnic cleansing of Arabs.  And apparently about every other group of which he do doesn’t approve. He (by all accounts) was sober when he wrote some seriously fringe stuff.

Even “Charisma News” – the host of an article that Mr. Cass just wrote, called “Why I am Absolutely Islamophobic” – pulled the piece, after the backlash against it.

Thank God for reason and sanity. But what did it say, and what was the ruckus about?

David Hayward recaps it well, as he summarizes the tenor in the article “Charisma News, Islamophobia, Jesus, and Guns” on his “Naked Pastor” blog:

“Here’s what Cass, and I guess the staff at Charisma News, think about Muslims:

Every Muslim wants to subjugate or murder you.
Allah is really Satan.
Their mandate is to dominate the world.
They’re deadly serious about their infernal goals.
They are violent and demonic fanatics.
When Muslims get power they behead non-Muslims.
Why? Because this is what Muhammed did.
Muslims laugh at us because of how stupid we are dealing with them.
Muhammed is burning in Hell.

His solution?

Convert them.
Deport them.
Kill them.
 
However, Cass says that since the bible predicted this about Arabs in Genesis 16: 11, 12, conversion is not only a waste of time but unscriptural. Since dead people can’t be deported, his real solution is to kill them all.

 Arm yourselves! Not with the gifts or fruit of the spirit, but with guns.” 

~

 “Tell them that they have 24 hours to get the fuck out, then turn that whole region into a glass factory.”

Something said at dinner shook me up so much, and sent me into a bit of a fetal position since it was uttered, and I’ve been quite haunted by it ever since. How dare they speak so. They are progressives, in MY CAMP. I am one of THEM.

Humans. We’re so incredibly gifted. Yes we are. We are able to point to the “OTHER.”. The outcast. The reason for “the problem.” And we always seem to have the solution. What will magically fix “all that is wrong” (usually by way of violence or extermination).

 

Yes we’re gifted. None of us are exempt from that tendency to want to plan, execute, and destroy THEM.  The enemy.

And then we feel better and wait, for brighter days ahead.

The fruits of our labor should yield a bountiful harvest. We do, after all, have a hotline to our God. We do, after all, have a clear path handed to us, and we act according to the Truth.

We wait. For we have acted to eliminate the problem. We’ve acted out our truths, IN LOVE.

But why do things go wrong, in the long haul? History has never been kind to this way of thinking, and we create it, are remembered by it. We’ve exterminated “The Problem” (because, after all, when you eliminate THEM, it’s gone – right?).

If fly-swatters can do it to an insect, then why can we not get it right with THEM?

These entities, we feel, do not deserve to exist. THEIR creed, THEIR theologies, THEIR God, THEIR atheism, THEIR ethnicities, THEIR abominations – all carry with them such displeasing scents to OUR God, OUR creeds, OUR canons, OUR truths.

Why do THEY persist, as we cleanse them?

THEY never seem to wash away. Indeed, THEY often become more numerous. And THEY hate us for what we were taught to do to them. We are, after all, only acting on behalf of “what is right.” The truth – our truth. IN LOVE.

Rene Girard put forward a theory on scapegoating as a means for our very survival that spills into the theological realm. We exist – nay, we NEED – to find an OTHER.  We need to join ranks in disparaging, in demonizing THEM. Once they are gone, we are supposed to feel better. Much better. The consequences of our actions aren’t immediately apparent.

But I’ll be damned if we haven’t won the battle, yet destroy ourselves in the war. Maybe not immediately, but in time, our descendants are often to be seen, out sharing our glasses of merlot with THEM, our Gentiles, our Others, as if nothing occurred in our time.

And by then, if we as a race managed to survive round one of mutual extermination, we will have invariably found a new OTHER to cleanse. For we all know that TRUTH as we’ve been taught, and will forever be taught, is both absolute and universal.

~

 As for me, my safe place was shattered one night, when too many glasses of merlot flowed freely.

I’ve searched for why (beyond an apparent and simplistic “solution” to a horrific problem) a comment at a party shook me up so badly.  And it occurred to me why in reading commentary on that piece.

It did so, I realize, because I and my brothers and sisters in the LGBTQ community have always been another breed of THEM – my personal connection to those sentenced (if only in thought) to broil alive if we, like them, didn’t/couldn’t “get the fuck out.”

You are free to recoil and plan a means for OUR demise now.  I’m quite accustomed to the occasional (or not) mention of the need for our extermination.Or do so for any of a myriad tribe of OTHERS.  There are plenty of THEM out there to roast, along with us.I am weary and sad, not just about this, but about every variation of the scapegoating that I’ve been witness to throughout my now-half-century on this planet. The one universal truth, I’ve learned, is that there will always be a “THEM” who are clearly the cause of THE PROBLEM. I should know better but you know, it’s always THOSE OTHER shoes that I, you, we don’t wear or walk in.

I am weary and sad, I suppose, because as it has been done to me, I in turn do it too.  Yes, we all decree that those shoes that don’t belong to us (that don’t look anything like our own) need to be set aflame, along with THEM – the ones wearing them.  But darn it, THEY just keep making new shoes for themselves, those who survive to rise from the ashes of those glass factories.

We are so good in pointing to “The Other” because after all, we are only doing what we are called to do.We are only acting as messengers of the TRUTH, handed to us from on high, IN LOVE.

Editor’s Note:  CharismaNews scrubbed the “Why I am Absolutely Islamaphobic” post from their site due to public outcry, but you can read Gary Cass’ original version, “I’m Islamaphobic. Are You?”, on his site.

Read Kenny’s original piece, “Glass Factories Will Shatter and Cut Deeply,” on Tangentials.

Pierce-KennyKENNY PIERCE, a native of Southern California, came out in 1985 as the AIDS epidemic raged around him, both in Los Angeles and in San Francisco.

“I am passionate about emergent theology and interfaith dialog. My greater interest lies in sharing what I (and others) learned in those formative years, to build bridges between rapidly-changing faith communities and the earlier generation of survivors, families and friends affected by the AIDS plague.

“I feel strongly that the Church needs to acknowledge and work to address the alienation and disillusionment inherited by the current generation of affirming people of faith, who may not understand the implications of the past social, political and religious dynamics through which their uncles, aunts and parents lived.

“It is my hope that residual feelings of betrayal and silence during the “gay genocide” in those earliest years of HIV/AIDS be circumvented, and someday don’t fatally color the perception of all of Christianity among its survivors. Our earliest mandates — pacifism, social justice and compassion — are the universal key to unlocking the heart of our work in this world.”

Kenny lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  Follow him on Twitter and on his blog, Tangentials.

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