*** DEBUG START ***
*** DEBUG END ***

Leader comment: Jarel Robinson-Brown’s tweet unpicked

by
12 February 2021

FIRST, to state the obvious, though not in the blunt terms that have been used in emails and social-media posts to this paper, the diocese of London, anyone connected with the Revd Jarel Robinson-Brown, and Mr Robinson-Brown himself: to attempt to make a political point the day after the death of a much-loved national treasure was thoughtless and insensitive. Nor was the medium well chosen: choosing Twitter to develop a complex and subtle argument is like trying to serve consommé on Ryvita. It could well be that Mr Robinson-Brown wanted to defend the memory of the “kind and generous” Captain Sir Tom Moore from those who wished to recruit him for right-wing propaganda. He has gone to ground, or been sat on by the diocese, so we cannot know. But Twitter allowed him space only to apply, without distinction, the same shade of White Nationalism paint to all who wished to salute the centenarian’s efforts on behalf of the NHS.

In his more considered piece prepared for the SCM Press event and reproduced in the Church Times last week — a better medium for these sorts of arguments, we would contend — Mr Robinson-Brown distinguished between different circumstances in which a prophet might rage. There are elements of that article that Mr Robinson-Brown would do well to revisit: rage against systems must include compassion for those caught up in them. There are, too, many passages that his critics would benefit from reading, not least: “Sometimes, rage is the only thing that gets the high and mighty to notice the manifold sicknesses at work in a disordered, disunited kingdom.”

Setting the church authorities aside, those most upset by Mr Robinson-Brown’s tweet were neither high nor mighty. Those with power and self-determination were able either to dismiss the insult or accept the apology, or both. The people most affected, judging by a cross-section of their comments, were those with less agency, people who resent being made to feel bad about being white or nationalistic or inspired by the example of Captain Sir Tom. It is easy to condemn racists and homophobes. More problematic are those who write: “I am not a racist/anti-gay but . . .” It is these who feel most keenly the huge, unaddressed crisis of identity that is facing the UK, and the English in particular. No longer part of an international body, who are they, exactly?

Here is the challenge for a prophet: how to address a situation in which a monoculture is being thoughtlessly and insensitively promoted in a multicultural nation. Captain Sir Tom was a hero: a modest, gracious man who doggedly overcame age and disability to contribute to the national response to the coronavirus. It ought to be possible to salute his heroism while questioning why other heroes, many of them people of colour who have given their lives during this pandemic, fail to be depicted as representative of this nation’s values.

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Letters to the editor

Letters for publication should be sent to letters@churchtimes.co.uk.

Letters should be exclusive to the Church Times, and include a full postal address. Your name and address will appear below your letter unless requested otherwise.

Forthcoming Events

Green Church Awards

Awards Ceremony: 6 September 2024

Read more details about the awards

 

Festival of Preaching

15-17 September 2024

The festival moves to Cambridge along with a sparkling selection of expert speakers

tickets available

 

Inspiration: The Influences That Have Shaped My Life

September - November 2024

St Martin in the Fields Autumn Lecture Series 2024

tickets available

 

SAVE THE DATE

Festival of Faith and Literature

28 February - 2 March 2025

The festival programme is soon to be announced sign up to our newsletter to stay informed about all festival news.

Festival website

 

Visit our Events page for upcoming and past events 

The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

Welcome to the Church Times

 

To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)