Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Silence of the Wolves

It appears that the Ugandan police are changing their story about David Kato's recent murder (another press report here). They've dropped the botched robbery plot, and now appear to be creating a "gay panic" story. That's the old saw about the faggot who had it coming because he made a pass at the murderer. That might play well with the Ugandan public (well, maybe most of them, but not all); but, that's a line of defense that no Western jury would buy anymore, not even in Mississippi. I'm dismayed, but not surprised. Police, district attorneys, and defense attorneys in this country used that same story for decades when gay men were murdered. They stopped using it only when juries stopped believing it was a legitimate excuse to murder anyone.

What I find striking is the broad silence about Kato's murder on the right side of the fractured Anglican Communion (Kato was Anglican). So far as I know, no primate or bishop who signed or endorsed the Jerusalem Declaration has made any public statement about Kato's murder. Archbishop Orombi of Uganda remains silent, as does "Archbishop" Robert Duncan of the splinter Anglican Church in North America. I hope that silence is out of embarrassment. I'm sure they are thanking God that the turmoil in Egypt knocked the story of Kato's death out of the headlines (Rachel Maddow's promised in-depth story of Kato's death got preempted by accelerating events in Egypt).

The only ones I know who are speaking out about Kato's death from the right are extremists and the anonymous paranoid ranters who lately have been dominating the comment threads on Father Mark Harris' blog, Preludium. I should think they are only compounding the embarrassed silence of the right wing leadership.

Scott Lively, a man who I hold indirectly culpable for Kato's death, hasn't backed down a bit. He recently issued this statement:

"These revolutionists of Sodom, who march triumphantly through all the major cities of the western world to flaunt their defeat of moral law, and who hold both Hollywood and the heart of America’s president in their iron grip: These very same zealots have fixed their malevolent gaze on Christian Uganda. [snip] There is indeed evil in Uganda today, but it is not the reaction of Christian and Moslem citizens to the rape of their culture. It is the pink-gloved hand of western powers that are cutting the throat of Africa’s most God-fearing country, and one of the world‘s most promising Christian democracies."

And here is a small sample from one of the anonymous ranters on Father Harris' blog:

That it is not Christian Ethics 101 to turn the tragic death of a man in Uganda into a cause? That it is not ethical to say that a man as killed because of Gay hate, when one does not know this for sure? That it is not correct to say that Christians who appeal to marriage as the teaching of Christ are on a slippery slope to violence against practicing homosexuals? but in fact love them and defend their civil rights even as they believe Christ calls them to a different life in Him? What we have observed instead is a kind of inversion of 'Pharisee self-righteous' condemning.

No wonder the bishops are keeping their mouths shut and hoping this all blows over.

We don't forget our dead. David Kato now sadly joins the ranks of Harvey Milk, Fanny Ann Eddy, Matthew Shepard, the victims of the Upstairs Lounge fire, and legions of others in our too-large necrology.

The other side may claim martyrdom, but their roll of those who died at the hands of the heathen liberals is blank.


President Obama pointedly referred to David Kato's death, without naming him, at the National Prayer Breakfast this morning. Bishop Gene Robinson urged the President to mention David Kato, and the plight of Uganda's gays and lesbians in his speech. The National Prayer Breakfast is presented by The Family, the powerful right-wing religious group that is largely financing the anti-gay campaign in Uganda.


Rachel Maddow finally did her report on Kato's death last night. She proposes, I think very plausibly, that so much of this trouble is driven by impending national elections in Uganda. She also points out that the Ugandan police publicly dismissed any suggestion that Kato's murder was motivated by hatred even before they had begun their investigation (sounds so much like any police department here in this country about 30 years ago).


it's margaret said...

I had one person walk out of church after my sermon this past Sunday. When I called to reconcile, he wouldn't have it, but began a tirade about faithful Episcopalians being driven out of their churches and the +PB being power hungry and there no longer being a biblical faith and people always put the words they want in to God's mouth to fulfill their own demands.... and when he was done, he said he had no hard feelings but probably wouldn't be back...

I am done thinking the police cover in Uganda or the right-wing thinkers in the Church and the USA are rational.... or, perhaps they are so very rational it's scary and I just don't get it....

What I do know is that you are a blessing to us --a witness to faithfulness, to gospel imperatives and God's revelation of love. Thank you, and bless you.

JCF said...

The other side may claim martyrdom, but their roll of those who died at the hands of the heathen liberals is blank.

I'd be a little bit wary of the "No True Scotsman" Fallacy, Doug [while I agree, generally].

Counterlight said...

Thank you Margaret.

Counterlight said...


Noted, but I've always found right-wing claims to oppression and martyrdom to be especially galling.
We've both experienced actual threats and intimidation, and more than once. We both know people who've been assaulted and injured, sometimes badly (I don't know, but you may have had this experience yourself; I've been threatened more than once, but luckily I've never been physically attacked).
For our antagonists to equate their alienation from a changing Episcopal Church to those experiences of actual oppression is an outrage.