Where Your Treasure Is
Non-action is louder than 10,000 words.
Mar. 15, 2017
Lately I've seen an increasing number of core Trump supporters taking offense at what they call the "race card." Liberals, it's said, label anyone who disagrees with them about Trump or politics in general a racist or an Islamophobe, & they're sick of it. Last week a friend & colleague was unfriended by one of his Facebook friends over this, the last comment being "[W]hen I disagreed with Obama for 8 years I was racist, now that I agree with trump I'm Nazi. F**k that, and F**k you." Prior to this, I thought the conversation had been constructive. My friend couldn't possibly have been more thoughtful & gentlemanly to this person, & even after this face slap continued to reach out to him seeking further dialogue & understanding. Apparently none of that mattered.
Now I'll be the first to admit that in many so-called "progressive" circles the race card is played too glibly. I've written about that elsewhere myself. But that said, I'm here to tell you... 99 times out of 100, when someone is accused of racism or Islamophobia it isn't because of what anyone agrees or disagrees with politically. It's because when the Light is allowed to shine on their lives and hearts, there's little evidence of anything beyond their loud damage control efforts.
To wit, I've also written at length about the wave of hate crimes that swept our nation last November after election night. I documented stories like that of a Louisiana woman who was harassed by three men in a truck shouting, "F**k your black life!" at her and driving away chanting, "Trump! Trump! Trump...!" Or the 12-year-old girl who was confronted by someone & told, "Now that Trump is president, I'm going to shoot you and all the blacks I can find!" I spoke of the many Latino people I knew of, either directly or through family & friends who were hiding out in their homes, afraid to go out in public, or to speak to anyone when they had to for groceries or work. Last Monday I attended a community meeting in Leavenworth & listened to an undocumented Latino college student who's lived here since she was an infant, & one of the kindest & most gentle women I've ever met. She's one of the people Trump wants to round up, pistol-whip if necessary, & ship off to a country she's never seen where she barely speaks the language. I watched her break down & cry... because she's terrified of being taken from family, friends, & a community she's supported since childhood, & deported to a foreign landscape she doesn't know with no idea whether she'll even be accepted there, much less belong. Nor were any of these isolated incidents. As of 4 weeks ago the Southern Poverty Law Center had recorded nearly 1,400 hate crimes since election night alone, & a near tripling of the number of self-described anti-Muslim hate groups in America, far higher than in any recent year (SPLC, 2017; 2017b).
I've been party to countless conversations where stories like these were pointed out to core Trump supporters only to be met with either defensiveness or interstellar silence.
But... these things are happening! Shouldn't we come together & try to end them...? Shouldn't we let people know that this isn't what we signed up for...?
"Stop calling me a racist!"
"I'm not calling you a racist... I just think this ought to concern us, don't you? Why don't we speak out against hate crimes & help their victims...?"
"That's not my fault!"
"I didn't say it was your fault... I'm just saying that it's happening, and these things matter to me... surely they do to you too, right? What are we going to do about them...?"
"I said STOP calling me a racist...! You liberals are all alike... you're always playing the race card! F**k that, & f**k you!"
Perhaps I'm missing something, but if the shoe were on the other foot & these folks were documenting pro-Hillary hate crimes to me in the wake of her election, I'd be horrified. The first words out of my mouth would be about how that wasn't what I'd signed up for, & whether I continued to support Hillary or not I stood with them in solidarity against those crimes. The last thing I'd be concerned with was whether I was being accused of anything, and not the fact that a little girl had been threatened with being gunned down because she was black & Hillary was president.
Two thousand years ago a dark-skinned Jew from what is now a Muslim-majority country said,
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. [Matt. 6:19-21]
Show me a man who refuses to entertain a conversation about someone threatening to murder a 12-year-old dark-skinned girl, but bristles at the suggestion that the one making that threat might have to wait out a three-day criminal background check before purchasing the guns needed, & I'll show you where his heart is. It's not that the two are mutually exclusive--they aren't. The point is that our hearts are revealed in our attitudes & behaviors, not our disavowals. He can deny it all he likes, but it's pretty clear this man's treasure doesn't include dark-skinned little girls... or for that matter, dark-skinned Saviors who were crucified as much for them as for him, and if this is the example he insists on setting it's only a matter of time before everyone starts putting two & two together & coming to the obvious conclusion.
Not a racist or an Islamophobe...? Don't like being called either...? Wonderful.
Then see to it that the above conversation isn't with you, unless you're the one asking the questions...
Be at least as eager to learn that little girl's name & hear her story as you are to believe (& share) every laughable yet vicious rumor you hear about folks like her from white supremacists, domestic terrorists, & wingnut conspiracy theorists (& yes, I know race card deniers who do exactly that)...
Don't bear false witness against your neighbor, including your dark-skinned neighbor. Period! See to it that it takes at least 60 seconds for reasonable, educated people to debunk everything you say & every link you share (I'd make it 2 minutes but I'll take what I can get, & from what I've seen 60 seconds is already a lot to expect from many race card deniers)...
It's been said that the extent to which we consider our values & beliefs to be what makes us human, is the extent to which we'll deny the humanity of those who don't share them. This isn't about who we "agree with" politically... It's about what our behavior, or lack thereof, says about where our treasure is, & whether it includes the humanity of those who are different from us in their beliefs, race, religion, or their stories. I guarantee you... if anyone has to devote considerable resources to defending themselves against the race card it's because the example of their daily lives isn't doing so. We don't see the Dalai Lama or Jimmy Carter answering charges of racism or Islamophobia...
They don't need to.
Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). 2017. "Over 200 Incidents of Hateful Harassment and Intimidation Since Election Day." SPLC, Feb. 10, 2017. Available online at www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2017/02/10/post-election-bias-incidents-1372-new-collaboration-propublica. Accessed Mar. 15, 2017.
Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). 2017b. "Hate groups increase for second consecutive year as Trump electrifies radical right." SPLC, Feb. 15, 2017. Available online at www.splcenter.org/news/2017/02/15/hate-groups-increase-second-consecutive-year-trump-electrifies-radical-right. Accessed Mar. 15, 2017.