Monday, March 03, 2014

CAN WHITE MEN EMPATHIZE?

I've lived in America too long to find this surprising:
In an effort its spokesman has described as "outreach to rednecks," the Kentucky Baptist Convention is leading "Second Amendment Celebrations," where churches around the state give away guns as door prizes to lure in nonbelievers in hopes of converting them to Christ.

As many as 1,000 people are expected at the next one, on Thursday at Lone Oak Baptist Church in Paducah, where they will be given a free steak dinner and the chance to win one of 25 handguns, long guns and shotguns.

The goal is to "point people to Christ," the church says in a flier. Chuck McAlister, an ex-pastor, master storyteller and former Outdoor Channel hunting show host who presides at the events as the Kentucky Baptist Convention's team leader for evangelism, said 1,678 men made "professions of faith" at about 50 such events last year, most of them in Kentucky....

McAlister, 60, who pastored churches in five states before taking on the role of traveling evangelist, concedes that neither guns nor gun rights are part of the Gospel. But he said he uses the love of guns and hunting in Kentucky as a "bridge to unchurched men so they will hear what we have to say." ...

"You have to know the hook that will attract people, and hunting is huge in Kentucky," he said. "So we get in there and burp and scratch and talk about the right to bear arms and that stuff." ...
Does anyone in these communities find this upsetting? Yeah, some people:
At Paducah's Lone Oak Baptist Church, which will host Thursday's event, the Rev. Dan Summerlin said there has been some "push back" from people who are opposed to firearms....

Summerlin said he has received some calls and notes from people who lost loved ones at Heath High School, 12 miles to the west, when Michael Carneal opened fire on a group of praying students in 1997, killing three and injuring five others.

"My heart aches for those people," Summerlin said.

One of Carneal's victims, Missy Jenkins Smith, who at age 15 was left paralyzed from the chest down down, said she was "shocked" when she found out about the event from a reporter.

Smith, who has two children and works as a motivational speaker and counselor for at-risk students, said that while people have a right to bear arms, "I would have really thought they would have come up with other ways besides this."
This is one of things about gun lovers that makes me crazy: Yes, I understand the desire to own and use guns. But is there ever a point at which you truly register the number of people who've been harmed by guns and develop a tiny bit of sensitivity to their pain? If there were actual chainsaw massacres taking place on a regular basis in America, year in and year out, would you march through the streets brandishing chainsaws, the way some open-carry advocates marched through the streets of Grand Rapids, Michigan, yesterday, brandishing their guns? Would you be that insensitive? No? Then why don't you recognize that the gun issue isn't all about you?

****
But I know: white men feel like the victims in this society. And to some extent I agree: rural non-college-educated whites really have been screwed by an economy that once offered good union jobs with middle-class wages and benefits, and now offers next to nothing. I don't blame heartland white guys for being upset that those jobs are lost. When I read in today's New York Times about a Democratic county chairman in Michigan who's trying (mostly in vain) to reach out to white men, I think about the fact that Democrats really aren't doing a damn thing to bring good jobs to these guys (or to any women or non-whites in similar economic straits).

Republicans are still worse. Republicans actively want to take even more from workers so the wealthy can get wealthier. But Republicans claim to want to help working-class whites and want to give less aid to, y'know, those people. (Says one guy quoted in the Times story: "Democrats are for a bunch of freeloaders in this world as far as I'm concerned. Republicans make you work for your money, and try to let you keep it.") Oh, and Republicans love guns. And if the jobs aren't coming back, at least white guys have those.

7 comments:

Victor said...

On the plus side, these white guys will have a quick solution to their suicides.

So who are we to question destiny?



aimai said...

The preacher in question is simply marketing access to christ with a free gift--its bait, pure and simple. He's quite up front with that. He might just as well offer "two for one shots" of alcohol with free preaching afterwards, or a 20 dollar discount to a whore, or a raffle for an outboard motor. He's picking guns because he can and because the category "unchurched" is very meaningful to him. There's long been a masculine "unchurched" population which is seen as hyper masculine and as rejecting a feminized church social sphere. It was parodied or hommaged, as you might say, on The Waltons in the character of the stern, church loving grandmother and the refusenik quasi agnostic grandfather (played by a quite famously gay Will Geer).

Its not that he's unempathetic, in any real sense. To be empathetic he'd have to be aware of the dead, and aware of their feelings. He doesn't "connect"--to quote E.M. Forster. Guns are such a trivial but significant part of his life, as is masculinity, that he can no more see it than a fish sees the water it swims in. Far from being salient, to him, the incidents of mass shootings fall into an unseen category, he is habituated to them. As we are to car crashes until a particularly horrific one happens, and then we forget again. You wouldn't be surprised to see him raffling off a car, even in an area of high teen drunk driving. To him the gun is a valuable consumer good which can be used to bait in a valuable religious commodity: white men who are not already owned by some other church.

flipyrwhig said...

I have never heard Republicans claim to want to help working-class white people _except_ by lowering their taxes and inflicting harm on non-white people. And I don't think there's any promise or program that Democrats could roll out that would ever persuade someone who thinks Democrats are for freeloaders, wink, that they weren't for them, because the very act of doing something for someone validates the charge: handouts, giveaways, etc., but none for me, even if there is quite directly something for me in it. So, in my well-considered opinion as a white person, white people can suck it, and I hope they keep losing elections and stewing in resentment until most of them have died off.

The New York Crank said...

"Get thee one and all a rifle the shooteth many bullets
That thou shalt pointeth, and aimeth, and shooteth
And blasteth the sandals off any that offend thee,
For this I say unto thee now:
"Verily, verily, I shall bring a hail of gunfire
"Unto those who tax their gold-laden betters
"And ye shall be as sheep who bleeteth
"But feedeth not upon the grasses of the field.
And remember always that these words I speak unto thee
"Are holy words."

-Crankites, Chapter 7, Verse 16

Julia said...

So the church spends money on steaks and guns, which I guess it thinks it will earn back when it passes its collection plate to all of its new converts.

But the conversion rate is really bad, about 14 per event. So even if this sincerely is an attempt to bring people to the King of Peace, it sucks. To say nothing of the people who might decide to go to a church that is less asinine.

More excellent work by the NRA!

Kevin Hayden said...

As a semi-college educated white guy who dropped out only because the expense and debt load required were more than I could fathom undertaking, I've never voted Republican because, in simplest terms, I'm not stupid.

I have voted Independent and third party candidates, I've even changed to be an Independent because of my disgust with the Dems move to the right that clearly began after the 1972 race.

I don't think the Dems need to 'pander' to white males to get a larger percentage into the fold. They only need to serve working stiffs from the working poor to the middle of the middle class with economic, domestic and trade policies based on simple math.

That'll lift boats quite well across racial and gender lines and the only ones SLIGHTLY abandoned will be the top maybe 6%.

Or put simpler: act as public servants to the huge majority whose economic interests are not being served by either party at the federal level.

That isn't pandering. It's called taxation WITH representation.

Protecting food stamps, head start and raising the minimum wage make sense, but only as a starting point. That's like jumpstarting a car but leaving the tank with only enough gas to reach the next gas station.

Ten Bears said...

White men are pussies.

Cowards, candy-asses and cock-suckers.