The blood on the sidewalk had previously nested securely in and fueled Won-Joon Yoon, a 26-year-old doctoral student. I would later, at the funeral, meet his family; they'd flown in from Korea. They were some of the loveliest people, and most devout Christians, I've ever met. Struggling to find the right thing to say, I opened, in my comments to his sister, by mentioning that I'd lost two brothers. This beautiful, poised woman rushed in to comfort *me* – at her brother's funeral. Won-Joon Yoon's father recited the 23rd Psalm, in perfect English, from memory. Everyone there – I could feel it – felt his or her own faith strengthened by this martyr's father's magnificence in the face of horror.
We, the citizens of Bloomington, had every reason to know that something like this was going to happen.
Publications had been left in our driveways. We had read these publications. We knew the drill.
The killer, whose name I refuse to mention, had been a member of a recognized religious group, a church, whose name I also refuse to mention. Let's just call it the killer-church. (I like and admire many things about Judaism: one of these is the tradition, shared with ancient Rome, of cursing fame-seeking wrongdoers to the erasure of their name: yimach shmo ve-zichro. Damnatio memoriae.)
The killer-church is a neo-Nazi church. The killer-church's publications, which the killer had left on my property and others, had named enemies, and an agenda. The killer-church hated Jews and blacks, all immigrants, etc. Christianity was a "deadly mind poison." The killer had apparently scored a trifecta in killing Won-Joon Yoon: he was an immigrant, he was non-white, and he was a Christian, entering a Christian Church on the Fourth of July. The killer-church's agenda is world domination through violence. The killer would start on this task by killing us, the citizens of Bloomington.
We were warned. We knew. We didn't take action. We tried to be nice, to be politically correct, to dialogue, to be tolerant. There were many town meetings. I attended one. After hours of talk, one Bloomington resident – I so wish I had gotten this bright and brave man's name – stood and shouted, "I'm NOT tolerant. I'm not tolerant of Nazis!!!"
He got it. No one else in the room did.
We erected nice little lawn signs.
Because, you know, the cardinal sin of political correctness is to be intolerant. We were afraid of being intolerant of a man who had a hit list that he'd distributed all over town. His scripture stated that he was going to kill us because we were the wrong religion, the wrong belief system. We couldn't be intolerant of that. Because intolerance was the worst sin in our church, the smug, university-town Church of Political Correctness.
Indiana is, north-to-south, quite long. Indiana is a northern state (Gary, Chicago suburbs), and a southern state: many Appalachian-born poor whites serve meals in the university cafeterias, and clear its grounds.
After the killings, the town's elites – university professors, journalists – began naming and shaming what they openly called "white trash," "trailer trash," and "rednecks." Professors and journalists openly stated that Bloomington's poor, Christian whites were all racist. The "rednecks" were clearly responsible for the killing.
In fact, the killer was not a redneck. He was a well-educated Indiana University student from a Chicago suburb. Not Southern. Not poor. Not a Christian.
Politically Correct elites are stuck like a needle in a record. The technologically-outdated metaphor is suitable to its outdated referent. PC elites can blame only their enemies of choice. Even when it is plain that their enemies of choice are not culpable, and that a new enemy, no matter how identifiable and articulate, looms. After 9-11, so many rushed to ask, "Why do they hate us?" As if we had done something naughty, and deserved to be firebombed.
I have a question I'm dying to ask those who support a mosque at Ground Zero.
What if the neo-Nazi killer-church were to demand to open a house of worship in Bloomington, Indiana? What if they wanted their killer-church house of worship right across the street from the Methodist Church where Won-Joon Yoon was shot to death? Where he was shot for no other crime than his ethnicity and his belief system, in accord with the killer-church belief system? Would you support that?
Of course you would not.
So, give us all a break, why don't you.
The Anti-Defamation League has come out against the proposed Mosque at Ground Zero. In explaining his decision, Abraham Foxman invoked the "convent at Auschwitz."
This mention of the convent was inevitable but unfortunate.
In the 1980s, a controversy raged about Carmelite nuns establishing a convent near, not in, the former Auschwitz concentration camp. After much debate and international press attention, the convent was moved.
Comparing the convent to a mosque at Ground Zero poses several problems.
Nazism is not Christianity. Nazism was a largely scientific and Pagan movement. Nazism was hostile to and hoped, eventually, to eliminate, Christianity.
Poles, Catholics, and members of Catholic religious orders were specially targeted victims of the Nazis. Historian Michael C. Steinlauf, son of Holocaust survivors, identified Poles as the third most persecuted national group in Nazi-occupied Europe. Poland lost c. twenty percent of its Catholic priests. Many were tortured in unspeakable ways. The Dachau concentration camp was known as the "largest monastery in Germany." One could go on.
The point is that however one feels about nuns living in a convent near Auschwitz, those nuns were not adherents to the philosophy of the killers of Auschwitz, and those nuns were members of the group expressly identified for victimization, enslavement, and eventual extermination by Nazis.
Further: There is no canonical Christian scripture that states, "Slay the non-Christians wherever you find them," or, "Crucify, and cut off the hands and feet of the non-Christians" or "Oh, Christian, there is a Jew hiding behind this tree, behind this rock, come and kill him." There is no canonical Christian scripture that says, "If any Christian wants to change his religion, kill him." None that demands a tax on all non-Christians. None that demands humiliation of all non-Christians. None that demands that anyone who insults, or mocks, or draws a picture of Jesus be killed. There is no canonical Christian scripture that demands that all Christian men take up arms and kill others until Christianity achieves world domination.
Muslim terrorists do cite their canonical scripture to support their actions.
Yes, Christians have done bad things. But they have done those bad things in opposition to their own canonical scripture; they have not done those bad things in accord with a scripture that demands that they do those bad things. Either you think that that distinction matters, or you do not. History would suggest that the canonical scripture to which one adheres, and to which the congregants of a given faith adhere, matters very much. It certainly mattered in the case of the Bloomington killer. He distributed his scripture freely. He told us what he planned to do. He did it. We responded with lawn signs.
No, the convent near Auschwitz and a proposed mosque at Ground Zero are very much not the same thing.
The convent near Auschwitz and the proposed mosque at Ground Zero are diametrically opposed in another respect: their treatment in elite academic and journalistic discourse. "Bieganski" meticulously details the contemptuous and often quite dishonest press coverage that the convent near Auschwitz received.
The New York Times, Newsweek, Tikkun – all felt quite free to denigrate or misrepresent Catholic Poles in their convent coverage.
For the record, I opposed the convent, and said so to Benjamin Meed, who encouraged me to send to the NYT a letter I had sent him. I did so. The Times did not publish it. Perhaps it was not inflammatory enough. I tried to respect everyone's position, but it seemed pretty clear that a building that had been associated with Auschwitz, though not actually in the camp itself, was not the place for a convent.
When it comes to the Mosque, the very same publications that jumped to denigrate Christians cannot seem to find any reason why a respectable citizen might oppose it. Any opposition is diagnostic of "racism." Racism is, of course, the cardinal sin in the Church of Political Correctness (as elegantly exposed by Shelby Steele.)
I so wish I had gotten the name of that man in Bloomington. The one, lone man at the town meeting that got it that tolerance of intolerance is not tolerance at all.