‘America at its worst’

The Boston Globe reports: The secret transport of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s body from Worcester to a small community near Richmond, Va., was set in motion by a woman who said she was upset to hear about protests to his burial and wanted to see an end to the weeklong burial saga.

Martha Mullen, 48, of Richmond, said she was dismayed reports of protests outside of Graham Putnam & Mahoney Funeral Parlors in Worcester that she heard on National Public Radio.

“It portrayed America at its worst,” she said in an interview with the Globe this morning. “The fact that people were picketing this poor man who was just trying to help [funeral director Peter Stefan] really upset me.”

Mullen, a licensed professional counselor who has lived in Richmond for most of her life, said she was sitting in a Starbucks Tuesday when it hit her: She could be the one to end the controversy.

“Jesus says [to] love our enemies,” said Mullen, who holds a degree from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. “So I was sitting in Starbucks and thought, maybe I’m the one person who needs to do something.”

Matthew 5:43-45: Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

Under the umbrella of the notion that America is a Christian nation, there really seem to be two faiths that compete for the prominent role of offering spiritual guidance to this country: Christianity and Americanism, and Americanism invariably is much more dominant.

Christian and non-Christian alike are generally aware that the teaching, love your enemy, is fundamental to Christianity. It’s not off on some doctrinal periphery — some kind of quaint injunction to be followed merely by the most pious among the faithful. On the contrary, it can be seen as a kind of litmus test that separates the faithful from the hypocrites. Yet there is a transparent contradiction between this feature of Christianity and American values.

For over a decade, American national fervor has been wrapped around the idea that nothing is of greater importance than national defense and combating terrorism. America’s need to assert global dominance is at the core of Americanism — evident whenever the chant, USA — USA — USA, articulates an allegiance to power. But there is nothing Christian about this identification with national power, which makes it all the more absurd that so many Americans seem to believe that you can wrap yourself in the flag, crush your enemies, and still claim to follow Jesus.

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2 thoughts on “‘America at its worst’

  1. La vérité

    The following could not have expressed my sentiment any better……

    “Taking revenge on a dead body is an affront to our society”
    It disgusts me to see that people want to take revenge on a dead body , even if it belongs to someone who is accused of having done something evil
    while being alive. I saw the pain that that was inflicted on the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings, but I also recognize that the suspect,
    Tamerlan Tsarnaev, is dead . One can judge the living by the mistakes they made while still alive, but trying to get even with a dead body is
    I don’t know whether there is an afterlife, but if there is, then that is when all of us would look back with amazement at how our lives had been filled
    with so much hatred, suffering, misconception, and pettiness. Everybody deserves a funeral and some form of burial, unless he or she had indicated
    otherwise. Those who demonstrate against any funeral for whatever reason are without dignity and an affront to our society’s civility.
    Loc Duong
    (c) The Boston Globe May 09, 2013

  2. Alex Bell

    I admire and respect Ms Mullen for what she has done. But that is the exceptional, unAmerican thing, not the demonstrations at the funeral home. The demonstrations and the emotions behinde them were just more examples of the ‘American Way,’ or ‘What We Stand For,’ just like Abhu Ghraib, or rendition, or the treatment of Bradley Manning, or 360 degrees rotational fire, or kicking down doors in the middle of the night, and enough other examples to fill a book.

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