Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Cancels Jesus for His ‘White Savior’ Complex

News: Commentary
by John Zmirak  •  •  August 6, 2020   

A (satirical) glimpse into 'wokeness'

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In the wake of her recent remarks condemning the state of Hawaii for honoring St. Damien of Molokai with a statue in the U.S. Capitol, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has deepened her cultural critique of "settler Christianity." In fact, she went straight to the source.

Shaun King

"As a lifelong devoted Catholic, a Latinx person with a cervix and a New Yorker, I would like to know why our, like, whole religion is centered on someone who seemed to consider himself a white savior," Rep. Cortez told a gathering of U.S. Catholic bishops Saturday evening.

The masked, socially distanced leaders of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) listened intently. Many took detailed notes.

The progressive National Catholic Reporter just last week dubbed Rep. Ocasio-Cortez "the future of the Catholic Church." Her "Green New Deal" agenda draws heavily on the work of prominent "Catholic Marxists."

Savior Privilege

Representative Cortez seemed energized, rather than chagrined, by the controversy her remarks stirred.

"I know that Shaun King and some other theologians whom I respect are questing for a Jesus of color," Rep. Cortez told the assembled bishops. "And I honor that. But it doesn't ring true to me. I mean, Jesus was a Jew, amirite?" She paused, and several bishops murmured assent.

Is it really healthy to tell our children that they're being judged for their sins by a perfect white man in the sky?

Then she continued:

Is it really healthy to tell our children that they're being judged for their sins by a perfect white man in the sky? He's pure and lily-white, a spotless lamb. He shed his blood for you. Because of you, and your dirty brown little sins. How does telling that to hungry undocumented American kids whom Donald Trump threw in cages advance social justice? How does it help?

Growing up I would always hear from my abuela, "Jesus was perfect. Jesus never sinned. Why can't you be more like Jesus, and not so mean to your poor mama?" Now, abuela meant well. She'd internalized the talking points of her oppressors.

But what kind of message is that for a young woman of color to hear? Don'’t assert yourself. Don't insist on your rights. Nod, smile, be nice. Act like you're the cleaning lady, do what you're told, respect authority and listen to your parents.

These are all aspects of white supremacist culture which have been with us since we were in the Middle Ages. They were brought over to America during the Norman Conquest. Well, bishops, do I look Norman to you? Do I?

With that, Rep. Cortez waggled her head in challenge. The mostly white, middle-aged bishops looked at their shoes.

"Education ... is the key ... to liberation," Rep. Cortez said, tapping a manicured red nail to one temple. "Education. Maybe our own Catholic Church should do something about that. Ever considered lending a hand there, your excellencies?"

"I caught a lot of heat from this nation's ruling elites last week for calling out the white supremacism at our own United States Capitol Rotunda Sculpture Gallery," Cortez continued. "Do I think Fr. Damien was a kind person? Was it self-sacrificial for him to come all the way from Belgium to take care of Hawaiian lepers? And then to catch the disease and die of it? I suppose it was. So yeah, I guess we can give him a shout-out."

St. Damien of Molokai

A few bishops applauded mildly at this point, but Cortez was just getting started.

White Men Gettin’ in Boats

"But a statue? Made of metal? To honor what, exactly?" she asked, adding:

You gentlemen — and I note, with a certain asperity in my vocal tone at this point, that there are no lady bishops among you — want to know where most of the trouble in the world for the past 6,000 years has come from? White men gettin' in boats!

White men sailin' across the world, lookin' for black or brown people who need savin'. The list goes on and on. ... First it was Noah, then it was Odysseus, then it was Leif Erickson. Then Christopher Columbus and Francis Xavier. Hernán Cortés and Davy Crockett ... .

At this point, Bp. Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas looked puzzled and raised his hand. Struck in the face by a balled-up piece of paper thrown by Abp. José Gomez of Los Angeles, Strickland backed down.

Not Enough Lepers in Belgium?

"Why can't some of your white men stay at home and tend to your own bidness?" she exhorted. (Rep. Cortez, who grew up in a wealthy Westchester suburb, sometimes employs the accent and vernacular of her Bronx congressional district.) "Just ... why can’t you?"

St. Augustine of Hippo

Rep. Cortez waggled her head even more aggressively, a cue which the gathered bishops read correctly, erupting into thunderous applause. Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago wiped tears from his roseate cheeks. She continued:

Why didn't Fr. Damien take care of all the lepers in Belgium, where he came up? Why'd he have to go to the other side of the world? Go find him some brown lepers, whom he could order around? Maybe impose his settler Christianity on them, teach them to be ashamed of their brown bodies and passionate tropical urges. Was that part of it, you think? A man who renounces his own sexuality, whatever it might have been, who wanted to maybe take it away from others?

The room full of clerics formally sworn to celibacy fell quiet.

"Where do a bunch of white men like Columbus and Cortés and Damien get off imposing a white savior on the brown folks of the world?" Rep. Cortez asked. "Are we so tainted by our color that you need to bring us baptism to wash us clean? Where'd we get this idea of original sin, anyway? From the whitest man in history, St. Augustine of Hippo."

After the event, Cdl. Timothy Dolan, whose archdiocese includes Rep. Cortez's district, smiled jovially. He told reporters, "You don't have to agree with everything she said to feel her palpable, tangible hunger for justice. That's solid common ground, which we can build on for the future."

Editor's Note: Rep. Ocasio-Cortez has not in fact said any of the above — yet.

John Zmirak is a senior editor at The Stream, and author or co-author of 10 books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Catholicism. He is co-author with Jason Jones of God, Guns, & the Government.
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