We would rather be ruined than changed,
We would rather die in our dread
Than climb the cross of the moment
And let our illusions die.
— W.H. Auden
I graded a paper tonight written by a self-proclaimed Christian student whose essay declared her fear about Barack Obama’s presidency. Apparently, the main reason he frightens her is because he wants to bring peace to Palestine and Israel. I had to wonder — do Christians no longer believe in peace? Has peace become something that we should be afraid of?
This student’s paper went on to berate and belittle “those people” (Muslims) and explains how “we Americans” are right not to trust them. She also perpetuated the lie, which I thought was long ago put to rest, that Barack Obama is a Muslim. President Obama has declared his Christian faith about 200 times more than he should have needed to. Is it now Christian to call someone a liar? More importantly, have we crossed a de facto line into having a religious litmus test for holding public office?
I had to fight the urge to write in huge red letters on the last page “This paper is racist drivel and right-wing propaganda!” But, my professorial authority stops just shy of ad hominem attacks. Instead I simply pointed out the flawed premises upon which she had based her argument and then used all kinds of big words to explain her small grade.
My response to her paper, however, did not remain completely limited to a critique of her style, tone, and mechanics. I pointed out that I had been an American long before she was, and she certainly did not speak for me when she used such generalizations as “we Americans.” Nor did I believe she was accurately representing the approximate 7,000,000 Muslim Americans who had an equal claim to the title of Citizen.
I recount this here especially for those of you who do not live in the general vicinity of Red Jesusland from whence I hail. You might find it alarming and even mildly shocking to discover that this way of thinking is not only present, but bountiful here in the South.
When did ignorance become a tenet of faith? When did “us versus them” become the standard for those who supposedly follow the dude who ate and talked with “them” every chance he got? When did a religion of love become so dependent on having a group to demonize? (And I know this is true, because I’m a member of one of those groups.)
I was raised in Christianity, but left it years ago. Now I realize that’s not altogether true. It did quite a bit of leaving too.