"The greatest ethnic dog whistle the right has ever come up with is 'Christian,' because it means 'people like us,' it means white."
The above quote is attributed to University of Oklahoma sociologist Samuel Perry, according to a recent New Yorker feature story by Eliza Griswold that explores "Christian nationalism."
In context, Perry's quote appears in a paragraph that leads with: "The election of Donald Trump intensified certain strains of Christian nationalism. He fanned fears of pluralism with Islamophobic and anti-immigrant rhetoric. He often invoked Christianity, albeit in terms that were largely about ethnic identity rather than faith."
While the New Yorker piece indeed explores larger religious and sociopolitical issues, Perry's "ethnic dog whistle" quote is getting some play on social media after the New Yorker led with his strident words when introducing the feature story to its Twitter audience Thursday:
“The greatest ethnic dog whistle the right has ever come up with is ‘Christian,’ because it means ‘people like us,’… https://t.co/F0JESepdik— The New Yorker (@The New Yorker)1620908760.0
How are folks reacting to Perry's quote?
As you might imagine, the quote from Perry — who also co-authored "Taking America Back For God: Christian Nationalism in the United States" with fellow sociologist Andrew L. Whitehead — is getting some pushback:
- "Oh so now we are pretending only white people are Christian?" one user quipped. "Could the gaslighting get any more ridiculous?"
- "What kind of stupid bigots think that Christian means white?" one commenter asked. "Just because the only ones YOU know are white, doesn't even touch on how many black & brown Christians exist. Everything you people write is made-up trash."
- "Christians are every shade and every ethnicity, @socofthesacred," another user said. "According to the book of Galatians, 'There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.'"
- '"Christian' literally means follower of Christ. It's not an 'ethnic dog whistle' invented by the right, not does it have anything to do with politics, race or nationality," another user noted. "It's disgusting to use it as a slur against people of faith or a cudgel against your political opponents."
- "Huge parts of Africa and pretty much all of Latin and South America are Christians," another commenter noted. "I image that they'll be surprised to hear that you believe they're white supremacists."
- "This is a terrible take as the future of Christianity actually lies in Africa and Asia," another user declared. "The Christian populations are growing on those two continents while they shrink in North America and Europe."
- "Christianity isn't 'ethnic'. Neither is degeneracy. One cannot *rationally* demonize a whole group of people based on their skin-color or beliefs," another commenter reasoned. "Individuals are responsible for their own *actions*--not the actions of anyone else who may seem to look or think similarly."
Perry retweeted the New Yorker tweet that leads with his quote, but as of Thursday afternoon he doesn't appear to have responded to critics or clarified his statement.