Occupy, Jesus and False Moral Equivalence

The Occupy Movement continues to linger, using May 1st and vandalism to keep themselves in the news and attempt to maintain some form of relevance. But the excuses for the ugly criminals from the media and the left are really pushing the limit. Brendan Kiley enjoys Anarchist rags and stole their headline for his piece at The Stranger, “Why All the Smashy-Smashy? A Beginner’s Guide to Targeted Property Destruction.”

There’s a particular and specific reference in his thoughtstream that I must address:

But back back [sic] to the central question: Why would anyone use targeted vandalism as a means of political expression? It’s a very, very old tactic, dating back to Jesus smashing up the moneylenders’ kiosks in the temple. And it is still popular among some, but totally anathema to most, today.

Why do people who deride me as a Jesus freak or laugh at my belief in the “Sky Fairy” feel comfortable using passages of the Bible against me to suit their needs? Jesus’ actions at the temple had NOTHING to do with political expression. If Jesus had been interested in the politics of the situation, his parade into Jerusalem would have ended with rubbing noses with the political establishment and the religious elite and included influence peddling. But he went directly to the temple and cleaned house in an act that essentially marked him for death by Pilate. Why?

Because, in the end, the “Temple Economy” was a corrupt system that had become a barrier between the poor and their God. THIS made Jesus very, very angry. His radical act is meant to call all Christians to re-evaluate their own religious practices and institutions. And re-evaluate how we think of other people.

He overturned the tables, he ran the scribes and the priests out and said, “This Temple is supposed to be a house of prayer for ALL NATIONS, and you have turned it into a den of thieves!”

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is that there will be NO BARRIERS between God and the people; there will be no barriers of segregation within the people of God. The love of Jesus demands this: NO Barriers; our love of neighbor will accept nothing less.

God’s grace is present for all people, for all nations, given freely for you; given to you as bread from heaven, to feed you, to nourish you to be faithful in all things.

This is what the Communion Table, our Eucharist, is all about…God’s grace, in flesh and blood, given for all of us, to all of us. This is what baptism is about: God’s grace given to you, without price, without cost, available to you in Jesus Christ.

Peace. Love. Grace.

This is exactly the opposite of the lesson Brendan Kiley would teach you, using Jesus as a sock puppet. There is no moral equivalence. I can think of many adjectives to describe Occupy and the recent vandalism. But they don’t include peace, love and grace.

What I find further disturbing about the piece is the disconnected intellect convincing itself that sociopathic behavior is not just acceptable, but credible as a tactic, as evidenced by the suggestion that:

Smashing a window is not violence, it’s vandalism. There is a difference—unless you think of people as the moral equivalent of property.

And continues:

There is an enormous moral distinction between smashing a bank window and smashing a person. Lumping the two under the umbrella of “violence” is linguistically lazy and politically irresponsible. It is worth noting that in the dramatic property-destruction campaigns of groups like the Earth Liberation Front—burning SUV lots, ski lodges, and in one of their stupider and more infamous moments, a botanical research facility at the UW—people don’t get hurt.

Of course smashing a window is violence. So is smashing a person. But from a legal perspective one is vandalism and the other is battery, attempted murder or murder. But violence is violence. Just as evil is evil. This attempt at disassociation is deliberate and disturbing. If I own shares in Nike, I am impacted when their store is vandalized. If I work in the store, or am a friend or family member of an employee, I am impacted. If I buy their shoes and expect a reasonable price, I am impacted. The idea that hitting Nike with vandalism is somehow less disturbing than hurting “real people” is psychotic. Most rational humans understand this and reject the obtuse premise for what it is: insane.

But hell, I’m just a ground squirrel. Maybe Brendan is right. And maybe I should protest Anarchists by smashing Brendan’s car windows, slashing his tires and burning his house to the ground as protest. After all, I’ll make sure people don’t get hurt. And since he is statistically underwater in his home loan, I’d be sticking it to the mortgage lender (a bank) and not Brendan. So it’s all good! Just like Jesus. Right?

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