Posts tagged ‘Do Better’

Why not call it terrorism?

There was a fatal shooting at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC this afternoon. According to the New York Times, the shooter is an 88 year old white supremacist:

The gunman was identified by law enforcement officials as James W. von Brunn, who embraces various conspiracy theories involving Jews, blacks andother minority groups and at one point waged a personal war with the federal government.

The gunman and the security guard were both taken to nearby George Washington University Hospital, with Mr. von Brunn handcuffed to a gurney, witnesses said. The guard, Stephen T. Johns, died a short time later. Museum officials said he had worked there for six years; The Associated Press reported his age as 39.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights organization based in Alabama, said Wednesday that Mr. von Brunn is a racist and anti-Semite with “a long history of associations with prominent neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers.”

On Wednesday evening, President Obama issued a statement saying, in part, “This outrageous act reminds us that we must remain vigilant against anti-Semitism and prejudice in all its forms.”

While I am glad President Obama released a statement–as did the founders of the Simon Weisenthal Center –I am still wondering why we still can’t call acts like these acts of terrorism.  On Twitter, a reason given was that perhaps the face of terrorism will always be a brown face–and perhaps America is not ready to deal with the idea of a white male being a terrorist.

Or perhaps it’s the fact that we aren’t ready for the idea of Christian terrorism? I took a class once where the professor explained that lynching of African Americans in the 19th century were acts of White Christian terrorism, no different from the 9/11 attacks. It surprised me how many students–black and white–disagreed.

In any case, it’s a terrible strategy. The only thing I can hope for is that people really begin to label James von Brunn as the terrorist he is, and to start thinking more about how we define and talk about hate crimes in our country.

We Can Do Better

Today I am taking part in a blog-a-thon against hate. It’s been a week since the murder of Dr. George Tiller. Dr. Tiller was a target of many extreme pro-life groups and had feared for his life because, alongside health care and contraceptives, he also provided women and girls with a choice to have an abortion.

I am most upset at how Tiller was murdered–in front of his friends and family in his church, and in the name of God. Dr. Tiller was a target of many Christian pro-life extremists, and his death is a clear act of domestic terrorism. Murder suspect Scott Roeder has stated that he killed Tiller because he provided women with abortions, which went against his Christian values. He recently warned that there would be more violence against pro-choice doctors and establishments to come.

But Dr. Tiller was a person of faith, active in his church family, and was also pro-choice. I was raised in the church and I consider myself a progressive Christian as well. I believe in providing girls  women with the choice of having an abortion, especially those who have been raped or are suffering from fetal complications; this was the case with many of Tiller’s patientsMany evangelicals would argue that you cannot be a Christian and be pro-choice. I beg to differ. I doubt that the God I serve would condemn me for believing that every woman and girl has a right to quality health care and access to affordable contraceptives. I doubt that the God I serve would condemn me for believing that young people need and want comprehensive sex education so that unwanted pregnancies and STDs are reduced.

Aside from the irony of being a pro-life murderer, killing anyone because of a difference in opinion , values, or religion is completely against the Christian principle of love. How can we love our neighbor when there are those among us who will kill a man for being pro-choice? Where in the Bible does it say that violence is a way to “teach sinners a lesson”? In this time of Lou Engle’s call for “Christian martyrdom”,  there needs to be a real effort to connect how issues like choice and access to women’s health care are in line with being a servant to God. Or, perhaps we need to remember the words of Jesus Christ:  “Let he who is without sin cast first stone” (John 8:7).