Friday, April 19, 2013

In Which I Fail to Be Impressed

Check out number 27, on this list of times the Westboro Baptist Church "lost badly."

It's a screen shot of a disclaimer from the KKK's website, reading:

The Ku Klux Klan, LLC, has not or EVER will have ANY connections with 'The Westboro Baptist Church.' We absolutely repudiate their activities."
Of course they do.

Here we see a tendency that many people have to distance themselves from Known Bigots, perhaps believing that if they don't belong to that group of Known Bigots or they repudiate these Known Bigots, then they personally have no problematic opinions they need to examine, themselves.

It also nicely illustrates a working principle wherein some people believe that if they denounce the Westboro Baptist Church they're taking some Big Time Stand against bigotry and hate. Even though it really takes no great moral courage to denounce this hate group (or for the KKK, for that matter), does it?

Many bigoted opinions and actions are far more subtle, insidious, and micro-aggressiony than the rhetoric and actions of either of these groups. These groups are widely recognized among reasonable people as being hate groups, extreme, and very problematic. And, for that reason, opinions and actions that are more subtle than WBC or KKK-style bigotry, when called out as harmful, are often more readily dismissed and trivialized (often by those who denounce the WBC) and are therefore more enduring.

I've learned that it makes some Christian anti-gay folks seriously uncomfortable when I've engaged them in conversations about actual similarities and differences between their own religiously-motivated anti-gay beliefs. Many anti-gay Christians, it seems, repudiate the WBC without actually knowing the theological basis behind the WBC's rhetoric. The differences, in many cases, seem to be more of degree than substance, although it's not widely admitted.

In fact, to broach the conversation in "mixed-company" can.... dun dun dun.... shut down the conversation because people end up feeling all "accused" of stuff and unfairly likened to a hate group. Which, of course, is more reprehensible than actually being like a hate group.

So, I guess my point here is that if a person's standard for what counts as authentic bigotry is the WBC's (or KKK's) actions and rhetoric, I think they need to seriously re-engage the issue. Like, there are ways to be a bigot or to be hurtful that involve more than the public utterance of slurs.

But alas, people want easy, simple rules, rules that don't make them seriously engage with their own complicity in oppression. They also really don't want to be called bigots. Even if they hold opinions that are really similar to the opinions of Actual Bigots.


- "We deeply resent the insinuation that we have treated homosexuals unkindly personally." -signed, people who have treated "homosexuals" unkindly.

- On Bigotry, Again

No comments: