Racist Ideas and Religion

Racism is arguably one of the greatest evils on the planet. A much-cited example is the Nazi antisemitism that resulted in the atrocities at Auschwitz. Another is the long history of ethnic cleansing based on the belief that a god has chosen a particular ethnic group of Semites to be his chosen people, and has given to these people a land that should be ethnically cleansed (currently of Palestinians). Racism will always be worse when people believe in a racist and genocidal god. These beliefs, espoused by many Christians, Jews, and Muslims are intolerable.

Some of the best words spoken against racism, discrimination, and prejudice, come from the teachings of Jesus, especially the stories that include Samaritans, even Samaritan women. Though, ironically, even Jesus sadly lapsed into racist and derogatory comments about non-Jews (Canaanite people are ‘dogs’ and should not be helped). He was after all a victim of his own religious and ideological beliefs.  

Our best fight against racism is to expose and destroy the idea of racism, discrimination, and prejudice. Opposing the people we call racist is like putting the ‘cart before the horse’. The ‘cart’ goes nowhere if the horse that pulls it, racist beliefs and ideas, is dead.

It is imperative, in my opinion, that we deconstruct myths, stories, and religions which have for so long poisoned our minds and have legitimized bad behavior, especially killing people. A recent example is ‘The Great Replacement: Towards a New Society’ by Brenton Tarrant. He emailed a copy of this to the Prime Minister of New Zealand shortly before murdering 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch on 15 March 2019. His ‘manifesto’ gives his rationale for committing this atrocity, in a similar way that the Bible and the Quran provided the manifesto for Christians and Muslims to murder each other during the middle-ages. It was unfortunate that Tarrant’s ‘manifesto’ was censored and banned here in New Zealand, denying the public an exposé of his reasoning and beliefs. Here is a 5-minute summary of that 74-page document. By the way, the document itself is not dangerous, but the ideas in it are.

The best way to prevent future atrocities like this is to expose and condemn the thinking and reasoning that drives such atrocities. There is nothing disrespectful about that. Actually, it is disrespectful not to do that. Brendon Tarrant is behind bars, and may he always be so. But the killer’s ideas are still ‘on the loose’. They are found lurking in religious and ideological thinking. Some are not so discreet, shouting very loudly. We must put these ideas and beliefs on trial, call them out for what they are, and condemn them.

I understand the following children’s rhyme. It is of course literally and physically true. But it is also false.  

    Sticks and stones may break my bones
    But words will never hurt me.

Words and ideas can be very dangerous and hurtful. Whereas inert and mindless sticks and stones (or guns for that matter), NEVER hurt anyone.

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