By SUSAN K. SMITH
Crazy Faith Ministries
As the politics of this nation continues to shift to the right, what people who believe that is wrong and dangerous for this country need to understand that now is not the time to be silent or complacent.
In his book Interrupting Silence, Walter Brueggemann says that “silence is a strategy for maintenance of the status quo. He said that there is a “theology of silence,” i.e., the strategy that pushes silence and acquiescence to oppressive government, and that ultimately, “silence kills.” It kills hope, it kills or at least slows down, the movement toward justice for everyone and it kills the desire to keep fighting for justice.
People descend into silence because the government threatens their lives and the lives of their children, which includes their employment, and with that descent in spite of great suffering, people are reduced to despair and will not fight.
We cannot allow ourselves or our communities to make that narrative the narrative that lets radical and cruel oppression to undo all of the gains that have been made for the good of so many to be eradicated.
We all know that the “right to life” mantra that the right espouses is not a cry for life of individuals even as they are alive. We know that the right wants to continue to have the country expand the wealth of the very few off the backs of the many; that it wants to, in essence, preserve the “plantation economy” that has been this country’s foundation since its inception.
The right is against raising the minimum wage, so that people make a “living” wage. It is against public education; they want schools to be privatized and still receive federal funds, thereby putting the control of the education of marginalized children in the hands of individuals and corporations that have far less concern for how well they learn than does the current structure.
We know that the right purports to be Christian, though their beliefs and practices ignore the teachings of Jesus the Christ; they are not concerned with liberty and justice for all, and they believe that God, the Bible and therefore Jesus sanctions the separation of the races. That said, they want prayer allowed in schools, but not the prayers of all religions represented in modern-day classrooms, but prayers offered by those belonging to the Evangelical right.
The right is horrified not only that the government has allowed a woman’s right to choose whether or not she wants to get an abortion but is also distressed that same gender-loving people can now legally marry. They believe God created everything and everyone – except maybe Black people who many of their ranks over the years have relegated to subhuman status, therefore not eligible for any of the rights contained in the Constitution.
The right believes in capitalism so deeply that any effort to help “the least of these” is immediately cast off as acts of socialism. In spite of corporations not paying their share of taxes and getting big breaks from the federal government – i.e., corporate welfare – it believes that poor and struggling individuals needing public assistance are lazy and unworthy of help. They do not like Medicare or Medicaid and want to get rid of it (they are called “entitlements) and are not all that interested in saving Social Security either.
Members of the right care about the Second Amendment, and their rights in concern to vaccinations and masks that will help get this nation out of grip of the COVID-19 pandemic, but they do not care about the rights of other people who want the vaccine and are willing to wear masks not only for their own sakes but for the sake of other people.
The summer before the former president was elected, I visited Germany. I went through museums and read how the Hitler regime came into being. I visited a concentration camp. It was so awful but so real and, given how rank racist hatred was rearing its head in the United States, too close for comfort. One picture struck me – that of “law enforcement” officers burning books. They did that because they could not chance people reading the truth – about anything.
It feels like we are right there, on the edge of a precipice where, if the powers that are seeking more power get their way, all that we have known and value will be pushed off. The goal of the former president and those who worship him is to “control” the people. All of us.
People think that such atrocities that we have read about could never happen again. But I caution everyone: don’t fall into that trap. It will help keep you silent, and thereby let those who want this country to be radically different have their way.
It will not be good for any of us.
Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith is the founder and director of Crazy Faith Ministries. She is available for speaking. And she is an award-winning author for her latest book, “With Liberty and Justice for Some: The Bible, the Constitution, and Racism in America,” available through all booksellers. Contact her at email@example.com.