Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The White Student Union and the Kingdom of God

              A young man who is a student at Towson University is concerned about the level of crime afflicting his campus and the seeming inability of the police to stem the tide.  So, he is arranging for a series of unarmed student foot patrols around the university to increase student safety.  The problem?  The student arranging for the foot patrols heads a group called the “White Student Union”, and its blog warns that the university is experiencing a “black crime wave”, with “black predators” preying upon the “white majority student body”.  Ouch.  To make matters worse, the young man, Mr. Mathew Heimbach, is an Orthodox Christian, who stated his desire to enter seminary to become an Orthodox priest.  Double ouch.

            What are we to make of all this?  It seems that the fallen tribalisms of this age are hard to eradicate from the human heart, and sadly, can even survive conversion to the Orthodox Church.  It is commendable that someone might want to arrange for student-led patrols of the campus to increase safety.  It is less commendable that anyone would define himself, especially today, in terms of colour or race.  Why have a White Student Union?  Why call the “crime wave” a black crime wave?  Presumably no one, of any colour or race, cares much about the colour of the person beating them about the head and taking their money.  Defining the criminals and the victims in terms of their colour seems unnecessarily provocative, if not incendiary.  Why describe the situation on campus in terms calculated to increase racial tension?

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1 comment:

  1. Let me emphasise that I am very, very glad that you have addressed this issue. As I've indicated to you before in private conservation, I have been interacting with these kinds of converts to Orthodoxy on Facebook for some time now. I am very glad that a priest with conservative political leanings is addressing the presence of these kinds of people in the Orthodox Church, notably "crazy converts", or "konvertsky" as they are derisively called. That this not a question of liberalism or socialism versus conservatism.
    However, I want to emphasise that Matthew Heimbach is not the only "crazy convert" that espouses arrant racism. It was only a matter of time that someone like this got publicly outed in a canonical Orthodox jurisdiction. And, it has to be said, that a culture of angry political conservatism is to blamed.
    I want to emphasis absolutely that this not a problem of conservatism itself. Right-wingers should not be made guilty by association. It could just easily have been a frenzy of liberalism or a left-wing hysteria that could have created a problem like this. Rather, it is a mindset of collective fear and exaggerated rhetoric about abortion, and gays, and feminists, and Muslims, and liberals, and socialists, &c. that has done this. I am not, in any way shape or form, saying that the Church has to change any moral teachings. Only that the way of presenting them has gotten out of hand. To the point that racists and extremists casually slip in without anyone noticing, because they hear ranting and raving from the clergy and laity alike, and thus think they've found a haven.
    In the end, what I've learned about the racists and ultra-nationalists is that they turn to these evil ideologies because they think they've found a place where they can belong. They have not been loved. They have not been shown compassion. And they turn to a perverse imitation of love and compassion, the way abused children fall into the hands of pimps. Unfortunately, the racists have been kicked around and mistreated so often that they think compassion and love are weaknesses to be exploited. And that's the heart breaking part of racism and extreme nationalism.

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