Can we ever disagree without hateful and dehumanizing language???

I don’t think that civil conversation is possible in the American arena and context.  So much hatred, bigotry, and ignorance has overwhelmed all chances of truly human interaction.  There are some deep ideological differences in our country, and they will never be bridged with the atmosphere of racism and apathy that currently exist.

When I heard what happened to civil rights leader John Lewis I wasn’t  even surprised… and that is what scares me.  It’s like the last year has pushed us backwards in racial progress, rather than forward as many people expected (I actually didn’t).

I must be the only one sick of all this, I just might have to move to the West Indies…

Published by Drew G. I. Hart, PhD

Drew G. I. Hart is a theology professor in the Biblical & Religious Studies department at Messiah College with ten years of pastoral experience. Hart majored in Biblical Studies at Messiah College as an undergraduate student, he attained his M.Div. with an urban concentration from Missio Seminary in Philadelphia, and he received his Ph.D. in theology and ethics from Lutheran Theological Seminary-Philadelphia. Drew was born and raised in Norristown, Pa and has lived extensively in Philadelphia and Harrisburg, PA as well. Dr. Hart’s dissertation research explored how Christian discipleship, as framed by Black theologies and contemporary Anabaptist theologies, gesture the Church towards untangling the forces of white supremacy and the inertia of western Christendom which have plagued its witness in society for too long. As two traditions that emerged from the underside of violent and oppressive western Christian societies, he found Black theology and Anabaptism each repeatedly turning to the particularity of Jesus in the gospel narratives. From that arises an ethic of solidarity with the oppressed and pursuing liberation in Black theology and an ethic of radical peacemaking and ecclesial nonconformity in the Anabaptist tradition. Each challenge the violent and oppressive logics of mainstream western Christianity and salvage the call to follow the way of Christ. Together in dialogue they deepen our analysis of the churches failures and the need for Jesus-shaped repentance. His work beyond teaching and writing has included pastoring in Harrisburg and Philadelphia, working for an inner-city afterschool program for black and brown middle school boys, delivering lectures and leading anti-racism workshops, collaborating with local faith-based organizers and activists in his city, and doing a broad range of public theology. He is also a co-leader for a local Harrisburg faith-based relational network called FREE Together which has collaborated with POWER Interfaith, MILPA, the Shut Down Berks Detention Center movement, and a little with the Poor People’s Campaign. Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism by Drew Hart, has received great reviews by Publisher’s Weekly and Englewood Review of Books. Endorsing this resource, Shane Claiborne said, “This book is a gift from the heart of one of the sharpest young theologians in the United States. Hold it carefully, and allow it to transform you--and our blood-stained streets.” As a text, Trouble I’ve Seen utilizes personal and everyday stories, Jesus-shaped theological ethics, and anti-racism frameworks to transform the church’s understanding and social witness. Trouble I’ve Seen focuses on white supremacy as an overarching framework for understanding racism, with careful attention to its systemic and socializing dimensions. However, unlike sociology textbooks on the subject Dr. Hart also considers the subversive vocation of Jesus and the nonviolent yet revolutionary implications his life ought to have for his followers today. His newest book project is entitled Who Will Be a Witness?: Igniting Activism for God’s Justice, Love, and Deliverance and will be published September 1, 2020. Who Will Be A Witness? invites the church to liberate its centuries long captivity to supremacist practices, and to expand its restricted political imagination in view of Jesus’ messianic reign. The book guides disciples of Jesus into joining God’s delivering presence through scriptural reasoning, historical reflection, practical theology for congregational life, social change theory, and the Christian call to love our neighbor. It is written for congregations, leaders, and students that understand that pursuing God’s justice goes way beyond waiting around for electoral seasons to come around. It is about the ongoing vocation of the Church right now, at the grassroots level, seeking after the wellbeing of their neighbors through faithful, strategic, and concrete action. Drew recently joined the Inverse Podcast team serving as a cohost along with Australian peace activist Jarrod Mckenna. Together they interview interesting people and explore how scripture can turn our ethical imagination and the violent and unjust systems of our world upside-down, which contrasts with interpreting the Bible as a tool for the status quo. Dr. Drew Hart was the recipient of bcmPEACE’s 2017 Peacemaker Award, a 2019 W.E.B. Dubois Award from a Disciples of Christ congregation, and in October 2019, Dr. Hart was chosen as Elizabethtown College’s 2019 Peace Fellow. Each award recognized him for his local and national justice work and public theology. You can find Drew Hart on Twitter and Facebook, or you can catch him as he travels and speaks regularly across the country to colleges, conferences, and churches. Drew and Renee, and their three boys (Micah, Dietrich, and Vincent) live in Harrisburg, PA and attend Harrisburg First Church of the Brethren.

17 thoughts on “Can we ever disagree without hateful and dehumanizing language???

  1. I agree, Drew. The President’s election has angered those on the fringe, belonging to the hate groups. What is scary is when our ‘neighbors’ start shouting along with them. I still believe, though, they are a noisy, but small percentage of the American people.I don’t blame you for thinking of the West Indies; I was thinking of moving to Canada when “W” was president. But we shouldn’t run from these false ideas and need to speak up for diversity and tolerance, no matter how frightening it may be. I’m working on my courage.:)
    Pam B

  2. I’m with you…but as a black man and a tea partier myself, I don’t think it’s fair to take the actions of a few and spread it to millions of people nationwide. If these were really tea partiers, then I despise their actions. But what’s worse, a few people calling names or white liberals setting up the vast majority of their abortion clinics in black communities.

    Do you realize that black women make up 6% of this nation’s population, but account for about 40% of the abortions? As I said on my blog today, we’d still be the largest minority group in America if we had all those aborted babies back.

    At any rate, I agree that no one deserves to be called the N- word, but I just don’t think that this is the worst tragedy among black people in America today.

  3. This is troubling on many fronts, 1 being that the majority of people that are part of the tea party movement claim the evangelical church as home. this made me sad for the people that are joining in without looking and listening to what is really being portrayed and preached to the world. I hope that the church and her leaders can reclaim our name in the midst of all this. I am doubtful but there is hope.

  4. Pam – Agreed, and don’t worry I’m not going anywhere… that’s just the frustration talking.

    Emmitt – This post was not targeted at the Tea Party (I did not create or label the video, but I did post it), but rather towards the overall racist and hateful atmosphere that has emerged in our current political dialogue and context. But as you bring them up specifically, there is no denying that racist images have been overly common at those gatherings. That doesn’t mean that everyone there has created hateful sign, but it does mean that for whatever reason, people feel ok expressing those opinions in that context.

    I am saddened when I hear the abortion numbers as well… however I can not ignore racism because there are other issues going on in the black community. They are ALL are worth discussing. People being called nigger and being spat upon is wrong, even though it is not even close to the worst tragedy among black folks. My whole point of the post was about being saddened at the racist tone and climate that has emerged, and there is no justification for it. Politics and ideologies can not excuse us from treating people with dignity, and I really wish more folk in the tea party camp would speak up against it more, it would be a lot easier to respect them and their position if they did.

    Doug – Keep hope!

  5. Evan, glad you came thru… I think it is time for those of us who are sick of the hatred and racism to start speaking up more often and more consistently. It is becoming too “acceptable” to get away with those things and still be considered “civil”.

  6. “When I heard what happened to civil rights leader John Lewis I wasn’t even surprised… and that is what scares me. It’s like the last year has pushed us backwards in racial progress, rather than forward as many people expected (I actually didn’t).”

    Don’t know about the rest of you but I’ve heard from a few places that the accounts of spitting and use of the N word – were probably not exactly what happened or as reported. But it feels good to believe it right?

  7. I haven’t heard any reports saying that, but I will check it out myself. However, even by your own comments, it seems clear that some sort of racial harassment took place. And even more than that, there is no denying that there have been several unfortunate racial incidents throughout the past couple years. This one event is just a small representation of the many racist statements that have been made.

  8. By my own comments, no such inference can or should be made.
    The event in question was covered by many more than the usual amount of news people. Video and audio were all over the place as well as personal cell phones with video as well as cameras…
    Nowhere can anyone point to a video or audio clip of someone shouting racial slurs at the congressmen.
    The person accused of spitting on the congressman was shouting with the crowd, “Kill the Bill” and from the look of the one video he is on – it appears he is one of those people we have all met who tend to spray as they speak.

    I have had it on my mine that we have come to a place in this country…
    When I was a kid, I learned from my parents that the life we live should earn us sainthood.
    Only problem is, sainthood is bestowed upon us after we die.
    People now-a-days want what they can get “NOW”
    For those who have the means and talent – they get theirs by hook or crook
    For those who are less able – some choose “Victim-hood”
    I was about 30 when I learned that there are actually people who excell in Victim-hood. Victims always win because anything wrong is always someone else’s fault. Even if the victim is wrong, he’s right because someone else caused him to be as he is.
    Victims always win.
    But I don’t have to respect them.
    If victims want to “claim” that someone spit on them or called them a bad name – so be it, but I don’t have to respect them or those who stand with them in victim-hood.
    As far as those people who have made political signs or used language that only speak in racist language – I say stone them and let me cast the first one.
    When it comes to dealing the race card for political purposes to pass a bad bill that will (in my mind) be more racist to more minorities (through tax-payer funded abortion) than a slur or spitting ever will… I say – let’s get our heads on straight.

  9. John Lewis plays victim??? First off, I think it is those who support him and all that he has stood for that have been most vocal. In the face of southern racism and segregation while attacked and beaten, John Lewis stood strong and courageous for his convictions. Definitely not victim mentality. And whether you agree with his politics or ideology, he has worked his way up to fight and represent his views in government, despite opposition. Forget the race card, lets stop playing the victim card anytime someone who is done wrong and speaks up.

    If the media outlets misspoke or exaggerated what actually happened (which often happens), then lets talk about it. It sounds like you have some sort of link to a video??? Could you share it, I think it would benefit this conversation and clarify what did and did not happen. I just can’t throw John Lewis under the bus of victimhood, because I think he represents the exact opposite. He has stood up in strength despite whatever has come at him.

  10. I hear that there is a $100,000 reward for any video or audio that will support Mr. Lewis’s claim. So far there is none.

  11. Doesn’t seem like there is video out there that suggests otherwise. I am sure if someone had video of him not being called the n-word as he walked in, it would have surfaced by now. Fox probably would have been on top of it. The lack of video from either side, doesn’t say anything either way. I did appreciate what this conservative republican had to say on the matter…. This was pretty much my main point from the start, that we ought to be able to have civil debate despite ideological difference.

  12. I’ll let you have the last word if what you say makes sense… but… saying that because there is no evidence in all the tape and audio (Of which there was plenty) to substantiate that someone DID NOT say something – is to ask us to prove a negative… “No evidence can be seen or heard of someone not using racial comments on all the tape and audio – therefore it must have occurred.”
    That dog don’t hunt.
    The congressman in question – assumed (wrongfully) that the reports were true. If they were true – he would have spoken correctly. What he should have done was to say he had no knowledge of the report and could only speak in general terms.

  13. Can i see some of the evidence? I asked earlier for a link and none was provided. All I need is one video of either congressman walking in and it appearing like nothing happened, and I will be a believer. And in that case I and the congressman will have had a false premise like you say, in which we assumed the reports were true. I guess in this matter, i got to see something if I am going to assume that three different people each separately lied about what happened to them as they entered the building.

  14. From a column by Thomas Sowell:

    “When the triumphant Democrats made their widely televised walk up Capitol Hill after passing the health care bill, led by a smirking and strutting Nancy Pelosi, holding her over-sized gavel, some of the crowd of citizens expressed their anger. According to some Democrats, these expressions of anger included racial slurs directed at black members of Congress.

    This is a serious charge– and one deserving of some serious evidence. But, despite all the media recording devices on the scene, not to mention recording devices among the crowd gathered there, nobody can come up with a single recorded sound to back up that incendiary charge. Worse yet, some people have claimed that even doubting the charge suggests that you are a racist.”

  15. Some days it is overwhelming–the reports, I mean, of dark behavior. But, we can never give up our hope or our faith that the seeds of love are in each of us and that it is in reaching out from and with love, and sharing our stories, that will at last change the hardened hearts and minds of others. How’s that book coming?

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