There is a bioterror threat on American soil.
Is this the wet dream of convervative hawks, the validation they so much
long for in the ‘war against terror’?
Well, not really. Seems like there’s not all that much of a stir about it, as
a January 12th google search couldn’t find much national media coverage.

How can this be?
How can a bioterrorism threat in America be uninteresting?

Well, the threat has to be made against the sexually marginalized homosexual community.

On January 7th, the Seattle Times reported that on January 6th 2009, eleven Seattle gay bars were given anonymous threats in writing stating that they were targets in a scheme to poison people with ricin.
Ricin is a poison for which there is no antidote, although a vaccine has been developed and supportive treatments are available. Survivors experience long-term organ damage. It can be inhaled, ingested, or injected. Its pretty serious stuff.

A ricin threat, however dubious of origin would probably gain national attention if made to any other community, but when the targets include a group already vilified and marginalized-it garners a big “meh”.

Here’s some articles on the threats:
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2008597989_ricinthreat07m.html
http://www.silobreaker.com/DocumentClusterReader.aspx?Item=16_946622987&Focus=11_1886
http://www.samesame.com.au/forum/showthread.php?t=6527

(Of course, as always and everywhere, one must watch their drinks, don’t accept drinks from strangers, be attentive and watch out for each other. But watching out for each other is what the LGBTQ communities do best. They’re communities that’s been through hell and back and have become strong and supporting networks.)

And one must wonder-why is it that America is resting on its laurels when
its own citizens are under threat?
My guess is that homophobia, transphobia, mysogyny, sex negative, and ignorant views are still very prevalent in the U.S.
Heteronormativity’s social control of our bodies, sexualities, and gender categories still has a heavy influence-but the good news is that its waning. The narrow margin win of Prop 8 in California is witness to the bulwarks cracking, but the myths and ignorant views on sexuality persist in America and I would suggest, find their strong allies in some churches.

When I say ‘some churches’, take me seriously on that. There are many wonderful churches, faith communities, temples, and mosques here in the states that are finding real ways to articulate love and justice in mindful and considerate ways. And then there are those who are stuck playing the same old power games that have always bred us/them thinking.

The people of faith over at Soul Force and the Equality Riders
(check them out at http://www.soulforce.org/)
have got the right idea. They understand that churches supporting corrupted power, hegemonies of essence (by sex, gender, sexual expression, race, etc) are the training grounds and propaganda mills for bigotry, intolerance, absolutism, extremism, and ultimately (I would suggest) provoke violences.

When someone hears week after week that there is “an Other” that they are better than, superior to, and divinely chosen over, what happens to that person’s thinking? When someone is drilled into thinking that “Those People” are commiting crimes against their God merely by their existence, what happens?

The violences supported by these misguided churches are not always easily visible. Its sometimes just the violence to a person’s psyche, social, and emotional health that keeps them from being who they are, hating themselves, or spurring suicidal thoughts. Its drives people to live double lives in dishonesty to themselves and others, short circuiting a life of joyous service to God.

Some pastors belittle and deride homosexuals and women at the same time.
Mark Driscoll, a Seattle pastor recently likened progressive or liberal churches and their teachings to having a Jesus who is a “wuss..a Richard Simmons, hippie, queer Christ.” What does this statement support? What does it say about women? Femininity? Men?
Christ by this portrayal is “a man’s man.” Men act like men. Women act like women. Jesus was a man, acted like a man, and the ‘effete’ have nothing to do the Gospel or Jesus.
This same pastor calls some Christians’ Jesus “neutured and limp-wristed.”
The patriarchal power in statements like this act to demean women and support stereotypes of homosexual men. All in all, its ignorant, mean spirited, and as I stated before, can act as the seed which grows into more and more violences.

(Check out the New York Times article on Seattle’s Mark Driscoll at:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/11/magazine/11punk-t.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1
and my comedic remix response at:
http://mindflowers.net/2009/01/11/mark-driscoll-of-mars-hill-is-absolutely-fabulous/)

To suggest that one be open minded, non-judgmental, compassionate, and begin understanding the lives and stories of others has been interpreted by some religious extremists I’ve talked to as being “Watered down Christianity”, “heretical”, or “relativizing morality. Everything is okay and permissable.”
Not so. One may worship their God, even Jesus as savior and God incarnate in a real way without relying on the bigotries of centuries past.

My hat goes off to Soul Force and the Equality Riders for bringing people of faith together from all over to stand against the messages of some churches whose messages and pastors fan the flames of violence and ignorance.

As the work of justice continues, maybe we’ll soon hear of all churches in the Seattle area and throughout America standing together against the type of threat currently experienced by the LGBTQ communities in Seattle.
P.S. Big ups to the Seattle Gay community-we are with you.
P.P.S. for more on how some Christians are getting it right, check out:
http://www.mccseattle.org/

 

Ryan McGivern

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