The politics of Scapegoating or “Scapegoating, Treyvon Martin and Seeds Falling” // The message I gave on March 25, 2012 (John 12:20-33)
_Headlines of a Scapegoat
There are a lot of things happening that have caught my attention in the news recently:
One of the recent news pieces that has captured us all had a headline that read: US Army Sergeant Kills 16 In Afghan Villages (Link). “U.S. officials said the shooter, identified as an Army staff sergeant, acted alone, leaving his base in southern Afghanistan and opening fire on sleeping families in two villages.”
Alabama followed Arizona’s lead by passing a law last year aimed at making everyday life difficult for the state’s estimated 120,000 illegal immigrants. The Alabama law, known as H.B. 56, allowed local police to check the immigration status of people stopped for other crimes, required public school officials to collect data on the number of illegal immigrants enrolling, and forbade illegal immigrants from entering into private contracts or conducting any business with the state (There was a recent This American Life episode on the unintended consequences this is having in AL).
Detroit Free Press headline read: Unhappy public not sure who to blame for high gas
We’re all very familiar with the Sandra Fluke contraception hearing and Rush Limbaugh’s demeaning and hurtful comments.
OneGeorgeFox is a group of LGBTQ students who have recently written a letter to George Fox asking to not be discriminated against any longer. They want to be allowed to have an open conversation about homosexuality on the campus of George Fox, and want discrimination ended. This has created a stir in local churches and is (hopefully) prompting healthy discussions around these things. Right alongside this the new headline runs – Ex-Student Convicted In Rutgers Spying Case: ‘I’m Very Sorry About Tyler (Clementi)’ (Link).
And Most strikingly, and heartbreakingly was the murder of Treyvon Martin, a 17 yr-old African-American who was shot in the chest while walking home from a convenience store. He was killed by a man who was on neighborhood watch. Treyvon was armed only with skittles and a can of iced tea (Link).
What do we notice about all of these things? Each of these recent news stories share a common thread and a modern tendency, and that tendency is to find a scapegoat for our problems. Our subject today is “the politics of scapegoating” and how to address it.