Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Morality Of OWS: U.S. Marine Sgt. Shamar Thomas vs. The Christian Right Establishment

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 As Occupy Wall Street (OWS) passes the one-month mark, people on both sides are proclaiming their stance on its morality, but one very imposing African-American ex-marine has captured the hearts and minds of people everywhere.

This weekend, United States Marine Corps. Sgt. Shamar Thomas from Roosevelt, NY faced down over a dozen NYPD officers and gave them hell about their brutality that has been plaguing the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement.

As he posted on his YouTube video:

I was involved in a RIOT in Rutbah, Iraq 2004 and we did NOT treat the Iraqi citizens like they are treating the unarmed civilians in our OWN Country. No one was brutalized because our mission was to 'WIN the hearts and minds.' why should I expect anything less in my OWN Country.
As a man who loves his country and its citizens, Thomas may have intended to point out the particular immorality in the NYPD's handling of the protesters. But an underlying sentiment was stronger: the morality of OWS itself.

And according to some of today's Christian leaders, the OWS is very, very IMmoral:

Renew America claims that President Obama will take the ultimate reins of power, using OWS as a pawn in his attempt to take over America. They are afraid that the Obama administration will cancel the 2012 elections in order to establish a dictatorship.

Pat Robertson said that OWS was a "cruder expression of Obama."

Bryan Fischer alleged that Nazis were working to bolster the Occupy Wall Street movement in tandem with Democrats and Communists.

At the Values Voters Summit, Tony Perkins (Family Research Council) and his band of "social conservatives" actually prayed for Divine intervention:

"May God prevent these radical organizers from stirring revolution and distracting voters from the elections and keeping watch on our elected leaders."
Maybe they thought God would smite the protesters with a plague or a tiny tornado to whisk away the tent city.

But now that we have people like Rev. Jesse Jackson in the fray, the OWS scenes across the country (and the world) have come to look more like the class struggle that it was intended to be. The latest question may now be: to what extent are churches going to be involved?

No doubt, there will be some harsh words to be said from conservative churches (like the Southern Baptist Convention) to progressive ones such as Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church in San Jose, CA: it withdrew over $3 million from its Bank of America accounts and deposited the money in a local credit union. The reason given was not only solidarity to OWS, but a fiery rebuttal to all the foreclosures endured by it parish of 7200 people. St. Andrew Episcopal Church in Saratoga, CA is following suit with a withdrawal of $150,000 from Wells Fargo. Both are part of PACT (People Acting in Community Together) which now represents 25 congregations and 50,000 people.

The dichotomy will not be lost on the general public: various religious institutions will either be for "social justice" or against it.

Of course, the entire fracas boils down to money: those who need it, and those who want to keep it. The Christian Right's denominations may become one in supporting the 1 percent because, that is, after all, where their money comes from. It also behooves them to keep people poor and nix secular social programs since the poor used to depend upon church charity for survival. In effect: victory against the OWS movement would be a win-win situation for people like Tony Perkins, Pat Robertson, and rising conservative Southern Baptist star Pastor Robert Jeffress.

If the country has a sense of deja vu in all of this, it may be because it's now expecting to see scenes involving protesters and water hoses. Sgt. Thomas has made us look back and wonder on which side morality will stand.

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