As a committed liberationist-leaning Christian, I may have no choice but to say the Shahada and convert to Islam if I wish to be faithful to my beliefs. One of the bedrock principles of any liberative faith tradition is “solidarity with the oppressed.” I discover my own salvation when I cast my lot with the poor and wretched of the world. The persecution Trump is unleashing on our Muslim brothers and sisters requires faithful Christians (and faithful Jews, and faithful Hindus, and faithful Buddhists, and faithful Humanists) to take a stand against persecution of anyone due to their faith, or lack thereof.
After prayer and discernment, I have decided if this administration attempts to update and reintroduce a screening and tracking system of Muslims, I will join former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and several prominent Jews in placing my name on the Muslim registry. I stand ready to register as Muslim in #solidarity.
Since the start of the twentieth century, Christian religion scholars from the dominant culture – specifically ethicists – shifted their focus on how to live the Christian life via praxis toward the nature of ethics, wrestling more with abstract questions concerned with what is the common good and/or which virtues to cultivate. An attempt is made to understand the world, but lacking the ability to differentiate within disenfranchised communities between a “blink and a wink,” à la Geertz, their final analysis lacks gravitas. Teaching religion has become a process which [de]liberates not liberates. While abstract deliberations at times might prove sympathetic to the plight of the oppressed, the first casualty of abstract thought is rigorous academic discussions concerned with how to construct a more just social structure based on faith claims.
The 20th century has been defined by the rise of the U.S. Empire. President Theodore Roosevelt introduced “gun boat diplomacy” and “speaking softly but carrying a big stick,” policies which laid the foundation for the development of today’s multinational corporations. Roosevelt’s foreign policy described how the full force of the U.S. military, specifically the marines, were at the disposal of U.S. corporations, specifically the United Fruit Company, to protect business interests.
I am deeply angry, upset, frustrated and irritated with the aggregated list you all compiled of “dangerous professors” with “radical agendas.” Specifically, what deeply disturbs me about your list is that my name does not appear. I’m feeling left out, as if all of my hard work is being ignored. Really, am I not that dangerous for you? Is my agenda not that radical? Where is the love (or in your case should I say, the “hate”)?
I would consider it a badge of honor to be on your list, so please accept this letter as my application. Dangerous professors are those who challenge their students to think, forcing them to move beyond pristine bubbles toward uncomfortable spaces where they examine their complicity with oppressive structures grounded in racism, classism, sexism and heterosexism. These profs are dangerous because they challenge students to move beyond ideology, doctrines and truth claims, toward critical thinking. Critical thinkers are dangerous because they cannot be easily manipulated by politicians who use fear of the Other to garner votes, as recently demonstrated.
They are dancing in the streets of Miami. The man who has impacted the trajectory of my entire life is no more. And yet, his power over my life, and all Cubans who find themselves in a land not their own will continue to have a strong grip. Maybe it’s too early for merrymaking. Maybe we are giving too much credit to an individual.