As we have repeatedly argued at this site, how we classify acts tells us much about the world we are trying to create. And among those telling acts of identification are choices to see something as evidence of a widespread structural issue in which many of us are all implicated or, instead, as the unpredictable result of a lone actor with impenetrable motives. We’ve seen debates on this before, of course, and, in light of the mass murder of nine black parishioners at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC, just two evenings ago, by a white suspect who is now in custody, well…, we’re seeing this debate take place again. Continue reading “Finding the Frames”
In the 70’s and 80’s (my formative years), the Soviets were presented as the main enemy to be feared. Angst over the threat of nuclear destruction became a regular part of the news cycle, political decisions, and military spending. That, of course, has changed in many ways. The fall of the Soviet block, perhaps partially fueled by the Soviet quagmire in Afghanistan in the 1980’s (when the US armed Osama bin Laden), shifted the focus towards the Middle East. Now the 24-hour news cycle, political decisions, and military spending often discuss the threat of terrorism, which means extremist Islam for many people. (Extremist Christians aren’t terrorists, of course, in the common discourse.) Continue reading “Learning Whom to Fear”
So many articles have already been written on the awful events that transpired in Paris this past week — articles flying fast and furious around Facebook, including my own wall — that there didn’t seem much to be added by penning yet another post here at the Edge. Continue reading “Context Matters (Sometimes)”
The online debates have already begun, on the heels of yesterday’s deadly shooting at a Jewish community center, and then a nearby retirement community, in a suburb of Kansas City.
On the Southern Poverty Law Center’s site, where the suspect’s well-known far right background is reported, you can also find the above discussion among the reader comments, as part of a larger series of comments, concerning how we will now come to understand, and thus respond to, the event. Continue reading “Matters of Classification”
An Imperial Wizard of a Virginia segment of the Ku Klux Klan asserted that his organization was Christian and not a hate organization. He further labeled some KKK members who have been guilty of using violence as “rogue” members and declared that the ideology to maintain white supremacy did not constitute hate. The media took notice (see here, here, and here). When Pope Francis or an Episcopalian asserts that they are Christian, such assertions are not generally newsworthy today (though in the1926 cartoon above, the Christian identification of Catholicism is questioned while the KKK is clearly Christian and American). One reason for this distinction is obvious; some of this leader’s assertions about the KKK diverge from typical characterizations of the group. Continue reading “Acceptance and Exclusion”
Here in the U.S. there’s a new controversy over identity and representation. It involves the picture on the cover of the Rolling Stone.
In case you don’t recognize him, that’s Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in a “selfie,” one of the two accused Boston Marathon bombers (the only one who remains alive). In response to the cover, which has been described as glamorizing a terrorist (and which some stores have refused to sell), Sgt. Sean Murphy, who is a photographer working with the Massachusetts State Police, has now released photos that he took when Tsarnaev was apprehended, while hiding in a covered boat in a driveway. Continue reading “A Stark Image/A Stark Truth”
An Idaho company has demonstrated the marketing power of a little religious studies knowledge, producing Jihawg Ammo, which is coated in pork-infused paint. The company asserts, “With Jihawg Ammo, you don’t just kill an Islamist terrorist, you also send him to hell. That should give would-be martyrs something to think about before they launch an attack.” The company tags the product “Peace through pork” because it “promotes peace through the natural deterrence of pork infused ballistic coating.” Continue reading “Marketing and Competing Essentialisms”