Notes about Lauren Southern’s interview with Sky News in Australia

Notes about Lauren Southern’s interview with Sky News in Australia

At the end of July, I came across a short video of an Australian television interview with Lauren Southern, who is a Canadian alt-right activist, internet personality, and self-proclaimed journalist. In this video, she makes sweeping generalizations about Islam, targeting the Muslim world as the source of much of our problems in the West. Intriguingly, she claims that Islam knows what it wants: it wants a global caliphate. Ha! It is my professional understanding that Islam is far too fragmented to want to fall under a universal government. This is a fiction, based upon her misunderstanding of Ottoman History as being representative of all Islamic history. It is as valid as the claim that “global Jewry” wants to dominate the world. There is neither a monolithic Islam, nor is there monolithic Judaism—nor a monolithic Christianity, for that matter. Frankly, I think it is more an indication of her own deeply held and sinister intentions on maintaining Anglo- and Christocentric global domination; the lady doth protest too much. What she perceives and fears in others may be an inkling of the darkness within her.

Secondly, she claims that the West has lost its way and does not have a firm identity. I agree with her, but not for the reasons she thinks. The west has not determined whether it wants in fact to be truly Christian or whether it wants to be the West. I say this in such a way, because she and many other Western Christians do not understand the core of earliest Christianity. They perceive and idealize Christianity through the rosy lenses of their colonialist and imperialist past. The form and practice of Christianity that was prevalent during the rise of the colonial west is not the same as the Christianity that Jesus preached. And I state this as a professional scholar of Christian Origins. I repeat: the interpretation of Christianity that is held dear by many right wing white Americans is far from the Christianity that Jesus preached. It is closer to the very ideals that Christianity railed against. This largely American brand of right wing, fundamentalist Christianity is rooted in overweening pride, in nationalism, in worldly and secular values that are against everything that Jesus taught. Many Christians have found themselves preaching a form of Christianity that is more like the imperial Roman cult that sought to crush Christianity. Modern Christians need to decide whether they love their nation more than Christ. Because Christianity asks one to put God before everything, even country and geopolitical and ethnic identity. There is no room for hypernationalism or excessive and exclusive patriotism in Christianity. Proper observance of civic laws is a given, as we see in the widely misinterpreted passage of Paul that was recently ripped out of the pages of the text by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and held up as a testament of the eternal primacy of government. But once the compulsory tribute is paid to Caesar (“render unto Caesar…”), one is then freed to do the real work that God commands. And soon after, all earthly governments will be laid to waste in the apocalypse that is preached by Jesus. And those who favored nation over God or the care of humanity will be cast into the pits of Hades along with those whose excessive pride has enabled them to treat the sojourner with disdain and inhospitability, and the widows and orphans as so much trash. So Christians need to decide whether they are going to really follow Jesus’ teachings, which are eminently anti-nomian and anti-imperial and critical of earthly government, or are they going to practice the worship of Mammon and Mars and Jupiter, clothed in the American flag, but merely shrouded in the blood of the lamb and his holy name.

Lastly, Southern is painting a very rosy picture of the history of the Christian West, forgetting the centuries in which gun-wielding Europeans marched into foreign lands primarily in the global south and enslaved indigenous populations, perpetrating enforced conversions upon the inhabitants, and claiming these lands for their own petty, secular European ends. And today the West continues to allow its multinational corporations to meddle in the affairs of impoverished but resource rich emerging nations, perpetrating wars on their soil in the name of Democracy or Christianity, whichever will best inspire armies to mobilize. To claim that Christianity was always about choice—as she blithely and uncritically does in the video—is to erase the deaths of tens of millions of indigenous peoples on numerous continents who were killed in the course of European expansion, all in the name of bringing Christian civilization and values to them; and it erases the deaths of nearly six million Jews who died at the hands of willing Christian participants in the rise of the Nazi regime, whose ancestors had been taught for generations that the “perfidious Jew” was the “murderer of Christ”, and that to kill or displace the Jew was tantamount to a holy and godly sacrifice. It ignores the millions of Jews who were murdered or displaced in the pogroms, the expulsion from Spain, followed by the Inquisition, and the various forced migrations and massacres that took the lives of countless Jews during medieval Europe’s long periods of coming to grips with their misunderstanding of Jews in their midst. Where was the choice in this?

I remind you that when the Kingdom of Spain expelled hundreds of thousands of Jews in 1492, the Ottoman Sultan Bayezid II had ships waiting off the coast of Spain to welcome Jews into the heart of his empire as honored guests and new citizens. Refugees resettled in a new land, they flourished in the Ottoman Empire for many centuries until the practitioners of misguided Christendom allowed the hand of the Nazis to reach into these lands formerly governed by the Ottomans, such as Greece and the Balkans, and these Jews now found their way into death camps. The descendants of the very European Christians who sought the extermination or expulsion of the Jews throughout the middle ages now once again had the ability to wipe out the descendants of those who had escaped. I ask you, where was the choice in that?

I do not deny that every nation has the right to self-determination, to preserve the dominant culture in its borders, but it also has a responsibility to protect indigenous and minority cultures as well. And it needs to come to grips with its true identity, and be frank enough with itself to accept that it is the exact opposite of what it claims to be, and if necessary, to celebrate that. But I say to America and the Western World, do not fool yourself into believing you are something you are not. As such, we need a voter base that is actually educated enough to know the difference between facts and mere demagoguery—mere hyper-nationalist and pseudo-Christian propaganda spouted by a very charming and attractive young woman who has just enough intelligence to be dangerous.

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