Bigotry on Stilts

One of the drills that we go through here in our local controversies is this: our adversaries quote some outrageous thing from us, we say in reply that that’s “out of context,” and they say, “Yeah, right. You guys always complain that ‘it’s out of context.’ You just don’t like getting caught.” And so that we don’t just repeat the drill, allow me a moment to make a little demonstration.

The back of the boycott paper has four reasons why the Kirk needs to be boycotted, and boycotted now. I am just going to interact with the first of them, although they can all be answered similarly:

Pretty bad, right? Here I am, out in public, saying that Jesus objected to giving good white folk food to “niggers.” There is a page number citation and everything, just like in a scholarly footnote. But here are the two pages from A Serrated Edge, where this creative dot-dot-dot quotation came from. The section starts at the very bottom of the first page, and carries over to the next.

Now the next page:

Now nothing is more evident than that I understand the story of the conversation between this Gentile woman and Jesus as an example of Jesus rebuking the racism of His disciples. That is how I understand the story, and that is what I was arguing.

But now someone is circulating a paper in our town, calling for a boycott of all businesses that members of the Kirk are connected to (with the grand exception of the Food Coop). The first reason given for doing so is our “racism,” but the citation in context is actually teaching against racism. Nevertheless, the people doing this are oblivious to the facts (this mis-citation has been publicly pointed out before). So, then, the slanderous word gets out — people pick up this paper, and they avoid certain businesses on the basis of a story they have heard. They don’t have the facts, they have harum-scarum anecdotes. That is what bigotry is; that is what bigotry does.

Now, there was a dust-up last week when an individual in our church stood at the corner of Third and Main with a sign that said something like, “Vote the Bigot Party: Ament, Lamar, and Pall.” How dare he use a word like that? Bigot is inflammatory, and so on. I was interviewed by the newspaper and said that my friend who did this was a good guy, not a crank, but that I had not put him up to it. That this kind of sign wasn’t my style, but that I did agree with the sentiments. Bigot is not too strong a word for what is actually going on. There was a letter to the editor that argued that I must have put him up to it because, among other things, I had used the word bigotry in a blog post about the election a few days before this happened. But maybe there is another explanation — one that has nothing to do with anybody putting anybody up to anything. Maybe there is obvious bigotry. Maybe — and I know this is a stretch — there is a paper still being circulated out of certain businesses that has the names of about seventy individuals and/or businesses to stay away from, simply and solely on the basis of where these people attend church. Maybe this is bigotry on stilts.

And by the way, why have we not heard from the city council candidates who were mentioned on the sign? Do they believe the Food Coop did the right thing?

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