Identity

In a recent conversation, both Kony and Limbaugh came up via Ryan Dobson.

I was saying how sad I was that some of Dobson’s comments echoed Limbaugh’s statements about Ms. Fluke.  The person in conversation said that at least Limbaugh was not dishonouring anyone by his comments.

“Wasn’t Sandra Fluke dishonoured by Limbaugh’s comments?”  I asked, surprised.

“I meant God! Limbaugh does not speak for God; he isn’t a Christian.” was the reply.  Obviously God is the victim here.

I quickly googled whether Limbaugh was a Christian.  No statements from him claiming to be one were found, but many articles quoting Limbaugh’s defense for Joseph Kony on the basis that Kony was a Christian did come up.

“Hmm.  I still don’t know about Limbaugh, but he does point out that Kony is a Christian.  I had forgotten that.”  I continued.

“Kony is not a Christian! No one who does horrible things can call themselves a Christian.”

“Well, yes they can.  There isn’t a clear definition of Christian.”  I said.

“A Christian must believe in their heart that Jesus is Lord.”

Only Kony can say what he believes in his heart.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2lAfPysVs4 (No true Scotsman fallacy)

The person went on, “What if I were to tell you I was an NDP (New Democratic Party, slightly socialist)?  huh?  Would you believe me?”

“Are you a member of the NDP?”

The person was not.  They assumed that there was as clear a membership to the NDP as there was to Christianity.  There is not regardless of what the Catholic Church leaders say.  If Kony wants to call himself a Christian, he can.  If he wants to find verses that justify what he is doing, he can.  If someone else wants to find bible verses denouncing what he is doing, they can too.

Christianity as we know it today is closer to other social movements like anti-racism and not like other group memberships like citizenship. I can claim to be anti-racist.  If I do or say something that is racist, that does not take away my desire to end racism.  It means I did something stupid out of ignorance, privilege or plain jerkiness.  People have every right to call me on whatever behaviour is antithetical to my proclaimed desire of ending racism.  They do not have a right to deny my identity.

Sarah Palin identifies as a feminist.  So what.  I do not question her desire for men and women to be treated as fully human, but I do question her actions, words, and attitudes, some of which are decidedly anti-feminist.  Don’t we all have ideals that we can’t live up to?  We should be critiqued without losing the right to self-identify.

Of course, in Kony’s case I have no idea if he feels he is or isn’t living up to the ideals of Christianity as he understands it.  I can say he isn’t acting on many principles that Jesus taught, and that is about it.  I can certainly say that what he and others have been doing is amoral and inhumane, but I don’t need to use Christianity to do that.  Unless he claims an identity which is clearly defined, probably by law, then I cannot say I know for sure what identity is correct.

Clearly, we would like everyone who shares an identity with us to be thought well of.  When there are disagreements, such as the feminism of Sandra Fluke and Sarah Palin, or the Christianity of my sweet mother and any warlord, can’t we agree that identity is complex?

The feminism of Fluke and the Christianity of my mother are both ethically superior to those of Palin and Kony.  But does that negate the claims of others?

2 thoughts on “Identity

  1. Great points! It seems like we should think of identifying labels as big circles in the Venn diagram of personality. We are complex, indeed, and no one label could contain our desires and our actions.

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