The event is one of the most iconic in history.
The 1936 Olympic Games are being held in Berlin, Germany. Adolf Hitler intends them to be a showcase of Aryan supremacy. But a black man from America named Jesse Owens defeats Germany’s athletes and Hitler’s racism, winning four gold medals. One of them is for the 200-meter dash, which he won eighty-three years ago yesterday.
In related news, Sonia Sotomayor was confirmed as our nation’s first Hispanic Supreme Court justice ten years ago today.
I wanted to start today’s Daily Article with these reminders that America is a multicultural, multiracial nation of immigrants and their descendants. We might think such a reminder would be unnecessary, given our nation’s clear history. But this is no longer the case.
How the shooter justified murder
Twenty minutes before shots rang out last Saturday in El Paso, Texas, a four-page manifesto was posted online. So as to deny them further publicity, I will neither name the alleged murderer nor link to that document.
But I can tell you that authorities now believe the El Paso shooter posted the document. It begins: “In general, I support the Christchurch shooter and his manifesto. This attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.” The writer adds, “I am simply defending my country from cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by an invasion.”
He believes that economic and political forces are conspiring against Americans and claims, “If we can get rid of enough people, then our way of life can become more sustainable.” Frighteningly, his document ends: “Many people think that the fight for America is already lost. They couldn’t be more wrong. This is just the beginning of the fight for America and Europe. I am honored to head the fight to reclaim my country from destruction.”
“The Great Replacement”
No idea exists in a vacuum. The El Paso murderer states that reading “The Great Replacement” motivated his attack. This phrase is both a book and an ideology.
Renaud Camus (no relation to Albert Camus) is a French novelist, travel essayist, and author of more than one hundred books. He wrote The Great Replacement in 2012, arguing that native “white” Europeans are being reverse-colonized by black and brown immigrants.
“The great replacement is very simple,” he explains: “You have one people, and in the space of a generation you have a different people.” Camus believes that all Western countries are faced with varying degrees of “ethnic and civilizational substitution.”
Hateful ideas lead to hateful atrocities
According to journalist Melissa Rossi, Camus’ claim has gained wide currency through popular speakers and websites. It has also been identified with the hateful ideology of white supremacists and white nationalists.
Demographers note that “Great Replacement” ideologues greatly distort the facts regarding immigration, ethnicity, and sociology. For instance, Pew Research Center estimates the number of Muslims in Europe to be less than 5 percent. Even using the highest estimates for migration rates, the report predicted the number of Muslims in Europe in 2050 to be around 14 percent.
Nonetheless, this horrific ideology has inspired numerous atrocities in recent years.
Brenton Tarrant, accused of killing fifty-one people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, last March, explained his actions in a seventy-four-page manifesto he titled, “The Great Replacement.” He labeled Muslims “an obvious, visible and large group of invaders, from a culture with higher fertility rates.”
Authorities also believe that the “Great Replacement” concept motivated the synagogue shooter who killed eleven people in Pittsburgh last October; the Poway, California, synagogue shooter who killed one and injured three; and Dylann Roof, who gunned down nine African-Americans in Charleston. Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh owned a novel based on its ideas. Anders Breivik, who killed seventy-seven people in Norway in 2011, claimed that he did so “in defense of my culture and my people.”
Christians worship “a dark-skinned, Jewish savior”
The El Paso shooter and other mass murderers see immigrants as a threat to our nation, culture, and way of life. Christians should view them in a completely opposite way.
Theologian Ed Stetzer: “Racism, white nationalism, and white supremacy all make no sense if you are a Christian. Christians literally worship a dark-skinned, Jewish savior from the Middle East. Not only is racism sinful, it is remarkably stupid for anyone who identifies as a Christian.”
Adam Greenway, the new president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, tweeted: “I want to be clear that we condemn in the strongest possible form any and all ideologies of racial/ethnic superiority/inferiority that fuel the kind of hate evidently motivating the #ElPaso shooter to commit such a horrific act of violence in our state.”
Drs. Stetzer and Greenway are absolutely right. The Bible is clear: “You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him” (Exodus 22:21); “You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself” (Leviticus 19:34). The way we treat the “stranger” is the way we treat Jesus (Matthew 25:38, 40).
Seeing people as our Father sees them
Rather than seeing immigrants as a threat to our way of life, let’s lead them to the One who is “the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). Let’s see their migration to the West as a missional opportunity for the gospel.
And let’s start where we are, with those we know. If we will see every person we meet today as a divine appointment and gospel opportunity, we’ll see them as our Father sees them. If we’ll share God’s word and love with them, we may see them again one day in “a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9).
On that day, we who are “sojourners and exiles” in this world (1 Peter 2:11) will finally be home (Philippians 3:20).
Whom will you bring with you?
NOTE: With God’s help, hope can arise in the midst of any tragedy.
We recently published a heartbreaking yet inspiring story about choosing life in the face of inevitable pain. I hope you’ll take time to read and share it today.
The origin of Abel Speaks, a DFW-based nonprofit that exists to support families who have chosen to carry a child with a life-limiting diagnosis, is also a model for how Christians like you can change the culture and bless our world through your work.