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  • Writer's picturePatrick Jones

AOC Insults Saint Damien of Molokai

Sometimes a headline pops up in your feed and you are sure that it's fake news. Or someone trolling. Or a sensationalist headline.

This was not one of those times.

On July 31, 2020, US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortex posted an Instagram story in which she said that a statue at the US Capitol building of Saint Damien of Molokai was indicative of "White Supremacist Culture." Though she later back-tracked in a "sorry-not-sorry" apology, she said that the fact that Hawaiians wanted a statue of a "colonizer or settler" to represent them was because Damien was white. She seemed to believe that it had nothing to do with what he did or how he served. His whiteness convinced two Hawaiian representatives to elect to build him a statue.

While I actually completely agree with the conclusion of AOC's post -- that all cultures should be represented better in the US capital -- she couldn't have picked a worse reason for making her claim.

If you don't know who Damien of Molokai was, allow me to blow your mind.

  1. When the Catholic church heard of a leper colony in Hawaii, they wanted to send someone. But knowing that this would be a death sentence, they only took volunteers. Who volunteered? Not Damien. His brother.

  2. When Damien's brother got sick, however, Damien took his place.

  3. Damien lived on the island of Molokai for the rest of his life nursing, preaching, building buildings and, sadly, building caskets for the lepers on the island.

  4. After years of service, Damien contracted the disease that would ultimately kill him. He died in Molokai with the people that he loved.

To honor a person like this is not white supremacy culture.

To honor a person like this is Jesus supremacy culture.

Damien, a Belgian, did not move to colonize or settle. He did not come to change the culture or the customs of the island. Instead, he came to serve, nurse, and die. Is there any doubt why a Belgian poll would name him the greatest Belgian of all time?

One comment on my video correctly pointed out that missionaries, and religion in general, has been used by cultures to spread whiteness and change indigenous cultures. This fact cannot be denied. It is a shame and a sin that the powers of the world have used (and continue to use) religion as a tool for oppression and colonization. But this is not what happened with Damien. And it is not what happens most of the time.

People of all religions should celebrate the fact that someone was willing to leave their home, live with strangers, serve them, and eventually die because of his love for him. Oh, wait. I'm talking about Jesus. Damien did that, too.

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