Tag Archives: Rwandan Genocide

twitter trump jesus lord

This is one reason I do not “trust in the Lord”

Today, I got up and did what has become a part of my normal morning routine, I checked Twitter to see what the most recent craziness has come out of the White House. This morning, I would not help but notice that “Trust in the LORD” is trending. Now, I know that the United States is one of the most church going counties on the planet but this image was just too much for me.

twitter trump jesus lord

This is from: https://twitter.com/nvrggivup

Now I know that when most people think of Donald Trump, they think about Jesus. I mean, who can forget that part of the Bible when our lord and savior extolls the virtues of “grabbing women by the pussy?” I know that was the part that kept me reading. That’s what it’s all about: rating, both for Christ and the Tweeter in Chief.

But then I was reading through some of the tweets telling me to “trust in the Lord” and while I am a big believer in karma, when people get too religious my mind goes back to Rwanda and the 1994 genocide. This is not because of its brutality and efficacy, but because of the role the church played. Like most of Africa, Rwanda is also a very church loving country.

The Ntarama Catholic church sits about an hour from Kigali. When the president’s plane went down in April 1994, people who lived near the church were scared. On April 15, the militia, known as the Interhamwe (those who fight together), ambushed area. Thousands took refuge in the church. At least five thousand people were butchered there.

I am not sure where the ideas that Donald Trump has ever given a thought to Jesus or the role of the Bible in his life has anything to do with the slaughter of innocent people in a Rwandan Catholic church but I have to just see the hypocrisy in both ideas. Trump has been divorced three times (though I don’t personally see an issue with that), has never seen marriage as a reason to not have sex with whomever and basically thinks that he has a right to do whatever he wants to anyone he wants. Take money from small businesses? Force them out of business? Sure, if it helps the Trump bottom line, why not? While I am no expert on the Bible of Jesus but if we were all wearing, “what would Jesus do?” bracelets, I am pretty sure sexual assault and fraud are not part of his repertoire.

And then the hypocrisy of the “trust in the Lord.” I get it. People like to believe in something and I do see the value in religion. The American civil rights movement got a lot of help and its start in churches. Having said that, blind allegiance to anything is just stupid.

But maybe the real connection between the Rwandan genocide, the stupid trending Twitter topic and Trump is that we seem to be on a path to genocide here and it is being led by people who claim to love Jesus. If that doesn’t scare you, it should.

 

 

https://vimeo.com/19089604

When we said “never again,” we were kidding

“One death is a tragedy, one million is a statistic,” Joseph Stalin

Today is the anniversary of the start of the Rwandan genocide.  In the span of 100 days, 800,000 people were murdered with machetes.   That is the official death toll but it could be as high as one million.  I wrote about that here.  As this is the anniversary, I am watching Hotel Rwanda.  I have been lucky enough to have met Paul and Tatiana Rusesbagina and they inspire me every day.

A lifetime ago, I climbed Kilimanjaro.  After the climb we went to Odulpai Gorge, the site where the first human footprints were found.  Looking over the gorge gave me this great sense of connectivity — we are all from there.

One of my heroes is astrophysicist, Neil de Grasse Tyson. He has said, “We are all stardust.”  I love that idea and it sits at the heart of my atheism.  Looking up at the stars gives me the same sense that looking over that gorge did.

One of the advance trips I did for President Clinton was to Norway.  He was there to commemorate the life of Yitzak Rabin (side note: when he was assasinated I was in an Emily’s List press training, name drop alert: Chuck Todd was in my group, when they told us the news, it took my brain about ten minutes to comprehend them, it was weird, I knew all the words but could not grasp what they meant).  I watched Clinton give a speech about our DNA.  We share 99.99 percent with every other person on the planet.  This is what makes DNA evidence so powerful in criminal cases.  During that trip, Clinton met with the Israeli and Palestinian leadership. Like soap in the shower, peace in that part of the world often feels so close only to be lost in a short time.

We are unique and that is special.  When we celebrate our uniqueness, we celebrate our species.  When we use the tiny spaces that make us unique to divide us, we all suffer.  We are in this boat together.

Hutu, Tutsi.  Jew, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist (or atheist).  We are the same.

Paul Kagame led the revolt that ended the Rwandan genocide but he is not the savior he has been made out to be.  He didn’t really end the conflict, he just moved it next door to the Congo.  Dear President Kagame: please learn from Nelson Mandela.  Step down and prove you have created a real democracy.  Learn from George Washington who stepped down after one term.

And to end on a happier note, watch this.

Us vs. them

Trayvon Martin Protest - Sanford

Trayvon Martin Protest - Sanford (Photo credit: werthmedia)

The recent shooting of Trayvon Martin, a black teen armed with nothing but candy and iced tea, has got us talking about a lot of things; the “stand your ground laws,” the danger of wearing hoodies and even the fact that we need to talk about race relations in 2012 America.  That’s not to say we are really talking about race relations in 2012 America, we are talking about how we should be.  There’s a big difference.

Personally, I think David Brooks had it right on Meet the Press this week.  We need to talk about race for sure but we need to broaden that a bit.  We need to talk about how we all view each other.  More to the point, how we view people who we perceive as being different from us.  That feels like a really obvious statement but sometimes we miss the things that are the most simple.

I am going to talk about some things that may or may not seem related.

One of my passions is stopping and preventing genocide.  I also have intractable insomnia.  The extra free time the latter gave me the chance recently to reread the book Machete Season; the killers of Rwanda speak.  If you are unfamiliar with it, it is a series of interviews with some of the perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide.  Now, I will set aside for a moment my complete horror at the fact that they seem to sleep like babies whereas I can go weeks without sleep (yes, people who butchered their neighbors and friends with machetes sleep better than me).  The main thing that sets genocides in motion is the ability to look at people of a perceived different culture as bad.

Closer to home the things that come mind for me are the shooting of Amadou Diallo, a man shot 41 times because when the police asked for his ID he went to get it out of his pocket.  I was living in New York City when that happened and I am not going to lie, that made me fear the police  Rudy Guiliani may have become “America’s mayor” on 9/11 but when I lived in his NYC, police brutality had gone up by a whopping 30 percent and his administration’s response was basically “shit happens.”  Ok, he didn’t say that exactly.  After one instance where the police burst down the wrong door (because they wrote the address down wrong), his response was that if you want less crime, you have to expect this sort of thing.  There was no apology for scaring the crap out of an innocent family.

These attitudes trickle down.  Maybe Ronald Reagan had a point, there is such a thing as trickle down bigotry.

The Trayvon Martin case could not have a clearer racial overtone than the killing of Matthew Sheppard was homophobic.  But our prejudices extend beyond that — we judge others based on their religion, culture, weight, gender — anything we can use to classify someone as different.  This sets the stage for violence on the micro and macro level and it needs to stop (I know you knew that).

Brooks mentioned a great project.  It’s called the Implicit Project.  They have several tests on there where you can measure your attitudes towards people based on a number of criteria.  It takes a few minutes and is well worth your time.  I did a few.  I will post my results if you post yours.  Go here to complete them.