Submitting to Unacceptable Demands is the Wrong Course of Action.
These last few weeks have been hectic. I have witnessed scenes I did not think I would live long enough to witness. It is easy to forget where anything started, as time progresses, so let’s just be reminded that all the events that have taken place have their root cause in a hideous race crime, the untimely death of an Afro-American Black man, George Floyd – R.I.P. – in Minneapolis, on the 25th of May 2020.
It has given rise to considerable levels of anger and outrage, both in the United States and elsewhere all over the World. The anger is justified. What an outrage of unacceptable racism, racial hatred and Police abuse of Power. It has since been at the centre of a popular movement, BLM-BLACK LIVES MATTER. I felt sympathetic towards their plea for equality and justice. I feel sympathetic, because the demands for respect, equality of treatment and opportunity, proper justice and fair-play, are fully justified, no matter whether this is an issue in the United States or anywhere else around the World. That is very clear!
However, what followed is not so clear. Demands escalated and statues were toppled down in the United States as in the United Kingdom. The argument behind such toppling episodes appears to have been that the historical individuals whose monuments were picked on for unlawful demolition, were racist, or associated with the slave trade, and so on. It is impossible to enlist all the reasons, because I do not know all the reasons invoked by those behind the decision to demolish public monuments.
I had mixed feelings about these scenes, because although I understand the anger behind these actions, once the anger subsides, the absence of a statue does not resolve the issues causing so much anger and upset in the first place. Personally, I think it may be more educational and therapeutic to leave a statue in place, adding a metal plaque naming the person represented for all the bad deeds the person has committed.
To those who doubt my logic, I should mention an extreme case which illustrates my point perfectly: Auschwitz!… If the current mob-rule trend were to be applied, Auschwitz would have been razed to the ground, obliterated from view, vanished forever. Well, it didn’t because bad actions in History should be remembered and it is good practice to erect or preserve a monument as a reminder to one and all, that what once took place in our common History of bad deeds, must never be allowed to happen again. I take the view that what worked for remembering forever the systematic slaughter of Jews, should work equally well to help us keep remembering the systematic capture, transport and sale of Human Beings as slaves.
But there is another reason, a hint in the back of my mind, just a whisper of concern… Toppling stuff by mob rule seldom ends well, and it may proceed in a downward spiral of irrational collective hysteria, the end of which would be hard to predict. I suspected other agendas at play with potentially dangerous outcomes! Regrettably, I did not have to wait for long…
A new factor came into play, as the Black Lives Matter issue seemed to become highjacked by what appeared like unscrupulous hands… And enter Shaun King, suddenly in the Public Sphere, proclaimed (self or by the Media, I am not sure) the new Leader of the BLM Movement. Let us dwell on some controversial issues surrounding Mr King, because his “proclamations” and “demands” carry a character of hysteria, sound deeply disturbing and – please forgive my blunt candour – require a firm response irrespective of whether Mr King’s recent proclamations and demands have their root cause in mental illness or deep-seated, violent hatred.
Mr Shaun King first proclaimed that the White Jesus was offensive to one and all. Suddenly, Jesus was White, European and claimed to be European (by whom?… he did not specify it seems), and therefore Mr Shaun King demanded any such depictions of a “white features” Jesus to be taken down. Here is for the record, as quoted by virtually every Media Outlet around the World, what Mr King said:
“Yes, I think the statues of the white European they claim is Jesus should also come down. They are a form of white supremacy. Always have been,” King tweeted on Monday. “In the Bible, when the family of Jesus wanted to hide, and blend in, guess where they went? EGYPT! Not Denmark. Tear them down.”
This is not just controversial, this is hatred. It is violent hatred. It is inciting to civil violence. It is a scorched-earth primeval brutality, more appropriate of an ancient troglodyte, than of a civilised 21st Century person. Mr King may be considered a Leader (unelected presumably) of the BLM Movement, but he is doing no favour to the people he claims to represent. Vast millions of Black Americans are Christian and probably never looked at Jesus as a “White” European, much to their own merit.
Indeed, Jesus is colour-blind. JESUS IS EVERYONE!… He is me, and you esteemed Reader, and your neighbour. He is all Human Beings combined in one. If any preference is to be attributed to Jesus, that would have to be towards the weak, the vulnerable, the victims of injustice, the outcasts of society, the sick, the dying and even some who were already dead and for long enough to stink, I daresay. Jesus was constantly persecuted for insisting on having contact and eating together and socialising with people the Pharisees would never consider being seen with. Jesus is non-selective, non-exclusive, and fully inclusive of one and all. Mr Shaun King’s claim is absurd and rather ignorant. Below are some fine examples of how Jesus’ humanity has been depicted in several parts of the World. Surprise yourself, Mr King!
Hatred in whatever form, shape, colour or flavour, has a common denominator to it… it easily translates into populism, at which point it becomes the seed of even more hatred, half-way sure path to irrational brutality, violence, blind to knowledge and blind to reason, rampant and unstoppable. This is Mr Shaun King’s genuine achievement; let us consider the evidence.
Since Mr. King’s initial call, the entire matter escalated further… It was no longer enough to call for “white” depictions of Jesus to be destroyed. Mr King soon discovered that what’s needed is to destroy the churches as well. True to form, just today alarming news arrived from North Carolina announcing a Catholic Church had been attacked, and the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist, along with the Tabernacle, forcibly removed, stolen from the Church.
I am probably not the only one who has been all this week riding a very odd rollercoaster! At every single fresh news piece, I have been thinking “this is likely to go further and get worse”… I haven’t been far from the truth, it is getting worse, which is why I have advocated from the moment the first signs of irrational hatred appeared, that pandering to the abuse is the wrong solution, which is why I fail to comprehend the motives of the incumbent Archbishop of Canterbury, the Rt. Rev. Justin Welby who keeps releasing Press Dispatches, agreeing that it might be a good idea to reconsider depicting Jesus as White, followed by another declaring all Churches need to audit their statues and memorials, in order to remove the offending ones.
Asked if there had to be a rethink on the white image of Jesus, Archbishop Welby said:
“Yes of course it does, this sense that God was white …You go into churches [around the world] and you don’t see a white Jesus.”
Well, first I think I should thank Archbishop Welby for crassly stating the obvious. The reality is Jesus is depicted according to the traditions and the most common look in each region. So in Africa, lots of places with have a Black Jesus, in China there will be a Chinese-looking Jesus, in India an Indian-looking Jesus. Presumably, with anticipated apologies for my somewhat sharp sense of humour, if seals in Antarctica were Christian and able to draw, Jesus would probably look like one?!… I see no issue with this. Does anyone? Is it not common sense?
What is not so plain-sailing is that the Archbishop of Canterbury seems quite content to award the natural and expected depiction of Jesus according to the cultural characteristics of the regions around the World, however in the UK or Europe, the Rt Rev Welby appears to think Jesus should not be depicted as White. I read this as reverse racism, I’m afraid, because most countries in Europe were predominantly White and so it is only natural that Jesus was depicted as White. So I am slightly concerned as to the apparent double standards. Europeans depicted Jesus with European physical features because it would have not occurred to artists across the centuries to depict Jesus in any other form. This should be instantly obvious, I would have thought?!
It would look odd to plant a Chinese-looking crucified Jesus in a church, in a village in rural France! Right? I suppose it is as odd to do that in Europe as it would be to plant a white European Jesus in a church somewhere in India, or Japan. In fact the famously miraculous image of Our Lady of Akita looks completely Japanese, just to give an example of the logic behind the thinking.
I hope the Archbishop of Canterbury will forgive me for the honesty, for – God forbid – it is not personal, but I really do not think wishy-washy pandering to absurd demands by a violent swivel-eyed, ignorant brute will help us here.
Calls for destruction of others’ objects of emotional and spiritual esteem have happened before. Collective memory may be what it is, but amnesia does not apply when things cross a red line. In Syria, the terrorist organisation ISIS once called for the destruction of the ruins of the City of Palmyra, and carried it out, the effects of which were recorded and published in the Independent newspaper. There isn’t much of a difference between callings to destroy Palmyra by violent brutes in Syria, and calls for destruction of Christian iconography and churches by violent brutes elsewhere.
It is all still the same cultural rape, agitated and incited by cultural rapists whose hidden agenda of hatred, violence and troglodyte brutality has no other aim than cause hurt, resentment, and arbitrary damage.
All due respect, I definitely do not think the answer is to agree, cowering behind half-baked excuses, trying to justify what has no justification under the roof of decency, religious freedom and respect for the cultural heritage of the UK and Europe at large, a Legacy worth centuries and centuries of Sacred Art and Christian Religious Architecture. Yesterday a CoE vicar who is patient enough to be a friend of mine was saying – quite right he was too! – that he will not allow the Archbishop of Canterbury come anywhere near the statues in his (the Vicar’s) Parish Church. I sympathise entirely. None of this should be happening. This is the wrong path.
The right path we all should consider is that no matter how righteous and truly justified the plea of the BLM-Black Lives Matter Movement is – and indeed it is, very much so! – having a swivel-eyed rabid criminal as their leader is not the way to go about it. Calling for destruction of what matters a great deal to hundreds of millions of Christians is nothing short of an outrage! Mr Shaun King should not be dealt with by pandering to his hateful and violent whims, but to call on the Law to deal with him and anyone engaging in unlawful damage to property. What Mr Shaun King has been doing in the most complete impunity is a criminal offence, ALL OF IT!…
Inciting to violence, calling for destruction, demolition or otherwise forcible removal of anything is a criminal offence, he should be arrested, charged accordingly under Terrorism Legislation, and dealt with promptly and swiftly. And it has the advantage of giving the BLM Movement an opportunity to reorganise, think about what they want, calmly and with civility, and push for change, there is momentum in their favour, they do not deserve to be highjacked by violent rabid maniacs. Either side of the Atlantic!
All this pandering has gone too far. It is time to fix it, or we will regret it. Doubtlessly! The so-called Rule of Law either is or isn’t! If it is, it should be blindly and impartially applied. If it isn’t, then I’m afraid we are all in far worse shape as a Society than first thought. In which case, God help us all.