The Vision, pp. 95-99
Y’all. This novel is so weird.
The romance between Asher and Cheyenne is completely boring, because they’re both interested in each other and yet not doing anything about it, for literally no reason. Magdalene asks Cheyenne why “her boyfriend” is going to Thailand, and Cheyenne is all “not my boyfriend” while making it clear that yeah he basically is.
Magdalene threw a grin over her shoulder as she launched into her mockery of Cheyenne’s morning prayer, “Lord, help him as he gets off the plane this morning to find his contact and arrive safely at the mission compound—boo whooo.”
Irritated, Cheyenne turned to Magdalene. “You are a real jerk—I mean, first class, outta sight jerk. Did anyone ever tell you that you are a jerk? Well, you are.” Cheyenne hit the steering wheel and took a deep breath, trying to maintain her dignity. “Anyways, now that you know that you are a jerk, he is over there to teach eh Hmong people by giving them the God’s Story book in their own language.”
I. Just. What.
I grew up evangelical in the 1990s, and I was taught even then that the best missionaries to any group of people are members of their own group. Wherever possible, I remember learning, we should fund native missionaries, rather than sending Americans around the world. And you know what? Many many of the Hmong in Vietnam are Christians. Finding ways to fund their outreach to non-Christian Hmong would make far more sense than Asher, who can’t even speak the language, flying to Vietnam to drop off a bunch of graphic novel Bibles.
But also, Magdalene should not be with these people. I know that sometimes kids in situations like Magdalene’s need tough love, but they also need people who know what they’re doing. Cheyenne is 21 or 22, and she has no training in social work or counseling. But part of this is honestly Debi’s writing. This plot would make more sense if we’d been privy to a discussion between Cheyenne and her parents over what to do with Magdalene. A piece of the problem is that we don’t even really know their game plan. Why are they doing this? Who knows!
But. But. This conversation about the Hmong is about to go in a very different direction.
Magdalene took on a cynical expression. “Yeah, what gets me is why would they bother trying to reach a sub-race? They sure as h#%% are not gonna be in heaven. After all, they are only half human … like that black preacher of yours that picked me up, doing his Christian duty for the day.”
Cheyenne blanched. Her voice was clipped as she trembled with rage. “Excuse me—whatever are you talking about? That is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of.”
Are you ready? Here we go!
“Stupidest is not a word. So who is the stupid one?” Magdaleine’s sough expression mirrored her tone. “Man, it is simple information I learned in Sabbath School when I was ten years old. People of color … Africans, Asians, Arabs, they’re not Arian and therefore a sub-race.”
Point of order, most people say Sunday School. People who say Sabbath School are mostly Seventh Day Adventists, that kind of thing, and we’re never given any reason to think that’s how Magdalene grew up. Also, Seventh Day Adventists don’t believe this stuff. So, saying Sabbath School is odd.
Perhaps the biggest problem with this book is its astounding lack of consistency. This section is actually an excellent example of this. When we learn about Magdalene’s background later, we are told that she grew up in a Christian homeschooling family; that her parents had a disagreement with their church and started home churching instead (something the Pearls disapprove of, as there is less accountability or community); and that, after this, her father started spending all his time in his room on his computer and became a White Supremacist through the various message boards he found. He disengaged with the family at about that time.
But … if Magdalene was raised in a church that taught overt white supremacy, why would Debi make a big deal later, when telling about her backstory, about Magdalene’s father’s conversion to white supremacy online, after he took his family out of their church due to a personal falling out with the leadership?
There are two stories being told here that each ring true—overtly white supremacist churches with white supremacist theology is a thing, as are individual conversions to white supremacy via online message boards. But these feel like two separate stories. You can make them the same story, if you really try. But you have to try. Magdalene could also be lying, but we’re never given any reason to assume that she is. It’s as though Debi’s ideas about Magdalene’s background changed over time, but she never went back and edited anything.
So. Let’s return to Magdalene:
“You must know about the garden of Eden when Eve fell, then she got it on with Satan, a beast, and bred the sub-race? Remember what Eve said when she found out she was pregnant? ‘I have got a man child from the Lord.’ Adam was not the father of Cain. She bred with someone she called The Lord. That was the beast of the field—Satan. It’s right at the front of the Bible.” Magdalene was nonplussed at the blank look in Cheyenne’s expression. “Sheesh … you really are dumb.”
Is this a thing? I’ve never heard of this. Oh my god, this is a thing. Oh dear oh dear. Goodness. Clearly, not only is this a thing, it’s also a thing Debi is familiar with, or she couldn’t have written this.
Yes, I knew there were white supremacist churches. I absolutely knew that. I just genuinely did not know there were churches that teach that people of color are the descendants of Satan. I thought white supremacist churches just leaned hard into the myth of Ham—the idea that God cursed Ham and his descendants to serve the descendants of Japheth. But no. This is grosser. Cool. Cool cool cool.
Out of the corner of her eye, the young girl anxiously watched the silent Cheyenne. She could feel a nervous buzz growing in her stomach as time passed.
There should be a warning for head hopping.
Finally Cheyenne responded, “Girl … the day you have one tent the brains Omar has will be the day you leave the sub-race. Now you listen real close, because I mean what I am about to say; I don’t ever want to hear any more of that foul nonsense, ever.”
Oh, yeah, that’ll work.
No, really, though: there’s no attempt to explain to her that she’s wrong, or to give her an alternative interpretation. Just, don’t say those things ever again. Now, maybe that’s fine. There’s absolutely a time and place for just telling racists that their words are not acceptable. But this is also a case where Cheyenne is putting herself in a sort of mentorship role. This isn’t a passing interaction. Besides, isn’t Debi theoretically trying to teach people something with this book? All she’s done is introduce racist theology, without then debunking it.
“If I do, I will take you to the police. No second chances. I can be very heartless and mean when it comes to taking up for my friends.”
These are … words. They are definitely words.
These threats to take Magdalene to the police if she doesn’t do or say just as she’s told are bizarre. Why would they take her to the police? To have her arrested for having engaged in sex work? To turn her in as a runaway? What exactly is Cheyenne threatening Magdalene with? This happens repeatedly and it is maddening.
Now. Check out this transition:
Magdalene suddenly lurched forward in the old worn seat, studying the rear view mirror. “Woe is us.” Her voice took on a childlike vulnerability that Cheyenne had not seen this streetwise girl express before. “Hey, check out that cream-colored Passat behind us. It’s a Muslim-looking dude driving. Ain’t no doubt about it, he’s following us.”
What exactly makes this guy “Muslim-looking”? Muslim men don’t typically wear special clothing. Besides, even if they did, she could say “a man wearing [insert religious gear]” rather than a Muslim-looking dude. We went straight from Magdalene saying that Africans and Arabs are descendants of Satan to … this.
Cheyenne’s going to scold Magdalene for her comment, right? Right?
Cold fear hit Cheyenne’s stomach, but she forced her voice to be skeptical. “You can’t see who’s driving through those dark windows. It could be a grandma for all you know.”
Magdalene’s voice sounded shaky as she replied, “I saw an Arabic guy getting out of that car the afternoon the black dude brought me to the Herb Den.”
The cognitive dissonance here is overwhelming.
After the girls got out and went into the Herb Den, the cream-colored Passat pulled into the parking lot behind the tobacco store. The driver got out and knocked on the back door—three rapid knocks followed by two slower knocks. The door opened in a few seconds and a Middle Eastern face appeared in the small shaft of light. he looked around hastily and then moved aside to let his brother in. As the door shut he could be heard saying, “It won’t be long now; these Christian Whores will be sorry they defamed Allah. Come in, we have so much to discuss. The others are already here. Saheed just got back from the Kingdom. They are going to continue financing our operation.”
The door shut and the light went out.
There’s. Um. A footnote here.
Let’s see, it says:
- Muslims use several ways to proselytize their religion: Immigration, colonization and outbreeding (producing more children than others around them) are the most effective techniques. After large enough communities are established, violent threats and militant political demands become effective.
It’s the word “outbreeding” that’s the biggest tell that this is a racist screed. There’s a bizarre whiplash feeling here, given that Cheyenne literally just told Magdalene off for being racist. It’s pretty clear that Debi doesn’t have a problem with people being racist. She only has a problem with them being the wrong kind of racist.
Oh, and the footnote goes on:
- When Muslims move to more countries, they tend to become more militant, more conservative and more dedicated to changing their new home to becoming an Islamic nation.
- Islam is a violent religion. Heaven is granted to the militantly faithful.
Anything that starts with “Islam is” and then makes a singular pronouncement is going to be false as a matter of course. Religions are not monoliths. Debi should know this!
- It is Iran’s ambition to expand the Islamic revolution worldwide. At the Muslims’ current explosive birthrate it will become a reality within 10 years.
The first half of this was true, but the second sentence rather undermined it. This video was created 11 years ago.
- Billions of dollars from oil-rich Saudi Arabia is funding the building of mosques and training centers in non-Muslim countries (including the USA). These training centers are encouraging and equipping believers to become militantly Islamic.
I mean, maybe conservative presidents should stop being so buddy buddy with the Saudis? Just a thought. Also maybe we should transition to renewable fuels and end our reliance on oil? Oh, what’s that? Climate change is a hoax, so we can’t do that? Oh. Okay then.
- Thorough immigration and out-breeding the Arabic Muslims have already successfully colonized Europe.
This will probably be news to most Europeans.
We’ll return to this in a moment, but first:
- Mohammed is the most popular name for newborn boys in many European countries. In Belgium 50 percent of all newborns are Muslim.
Which European cities? The most popular boys name for babies born in Belgium in 2018 was Arthur, followed by Noah, Adam, and Louis. Mohammed was number 10 on the list. The most popular boys name in France that same year was Gabriel, followed by Raphael, Leo, and Louis. Mohammed didn’t make the top 1o. Yes, this is countries, not cities, but given the claim that 50% of babies born in Belgium are Muslim, that shouldn’t matter.
Continuing our trend of this whole list being a lie, only 5% of Belgians were Muslim in 2009 (and according to Wikipedia at least, that hasn’t changed). I’m trying to imagine how 5% of the population could possibly have 50% of the children, especially when, according to Pew, the birthrate among Muslim Belgians is 2.6%. For reference, the birthrate among non-Muslim Belgians is 1.7%. Because math is fun and I can do math, I’ll tell you what that means: 7% of babies born in Belgium are born to Muslim families. Not 50%. 7%.
It’s almost like this whole thing is a racist lie. Which, it is. Here’s an interesting way to examine this question: who exactly is very very concerned about scary Muslim immigrants in Europe? Oh, hello: white supremacist groups. That’s who is pushing this idea that Europe is besieged by Muslims. White supremacists.
This footnote is a laundry list of white supremacist talking points. Debi is literally repeating white supremacist talking points. While having the characters her book react in horror to the only slightly more overt white supremacy of specific white supremacist churches. How is this book for real.
- Now Islam is spreading its wings and is already making itself “felt” in many Asian countries. Japan is currently a new and interesting frontier.
As of 2010, 0.1% of the population of Japan was Muslim, and according to Pew, that is not expected to change one iota by 2030. Also, is Debi aware that Indonesia is in Asia? 60% of the world’s Muslims live in Asia (as opposed to the Middle East or northern Africa), and that is not new.
- In one Arabic speaking Muslim community in Bangkok, Thailand, they are over 20,000 strong. You can smell the difference as you drive by, as their cleanliness is not that of the Thai people. Locals fear the strange militant people.
There are over eight million people living in Bangkok. That rather puts “over 20,000 strong” in perspective. Also, I’m sorry, but Muslim people are dirty and smell bad is racist! This isn’t just some sort of covert concern trolling. This is rank and blatant racism. Full stop.
Because I was curious, I turned to google to learn about Arabic speaking Muslims living in Bangkok. “I found this fascinating description of Bangkok’s “Muslim Quarter”: “Turning a corner, the air becomes smoky and filled with the whiff of roasting meat. A hijab-wearing Thai woman stands grilling satay sticks on a food cart labelled ‘halal.’ The woman smiles warmly and returns our greetings.” Scary stuff, that.
Also? This is how cities work. Many American cities have a Polish quarter, an Italian quarter, a Greek quarter, an Indian or Pakistani quarter, and so forth. I mean my goodness, this is why so many American cities have a Chinatown! It turns out that many immigrants like moving to places where other people who speak their language and share their food live. There is nothing “militant” or threatening about that.
Back to Debi’s footnote:
- Russia and Ukraine are dealing with the same phenomenon. One in five adults is now Muslim. These Muslim families average 8.11 children per couple.
Looking into this took me down a bit of a rabbit hole.
According to Pew, 0.9% of Ukrainians were Muslim in 2010, and that is not predicted to change. I was able to find everything from the one-in-five number to the oddly specific large average of Muslim children in Russian nationalist articles denouncing demographic change in that country (more on that in a moment). So, why include Ukraine here? The only reason I can think is that those same Russian nationalist voices that have white supremacist concerns about Russian demography also assert that Ukraine is (or should be) part of Russia.
The inclusion of Ukraine is a tell that this bullet point is a tell that the information here comes directly from white supremacist talking points by Russian nationalists. Let that sink in for a moment.
So, what’s going on with Russia? According to Pew, 12% of Russians were Muslim in 2010, and that number is predicted to increase to 14% by 2030. This is not new or a threat, however, If you look at the Muslim population of Russia by region, you’ll see that most Russian Muslims live in the part of Russia that borders on the Caucasus. This is a historically Muslim area. According to Pew, 9% of Russians were Muslim in 1990, only slightly lower than 2010’s 12%. There has been a significant Muslim population in Russia for literally centuries.
But Russia also has a white nationalist ethno-state movement which makes the white supremacist problem in the U.S. look tame. I found a 2006 Washington Times article warning with hysteria that Muslims would make up one-fifth of the Russian population by 2020. It included quotes like this: “Russia is historically a Slavic, Orthodox Christian land, and we need to make sure it stays that way.” It also included this tidbit:
… the national fertility rate [in Russia] is 1.28 children per woman, far below what is needed to maintain the country’s population of nearly 143 million. … Russia’s Muslims, however, are bucking that trend. The fertility rate for Tatars living in Moscow is six children per woman, Mr. Goble said, while the Chechen and Ingush communities are averaging 10 children per woman.
This is probably where Debi’s “8.11 children per couple” number comes from, although that number itself is not listed, and must have gone through another filter. Note, though, that these high fertility figures here are for specific ethnic groups living in specific places, though, not for all Muslims living in Russia.
The “Mr. Goble” listed as the source for these fertility statistics is a former Voice of America staffer and state department advisor who runs a blog where he quotes white nationalist Russians uncritically and at length.
Ick. Enough on this Russia point!
We’re almost done with Debi’s footnotes:
- Does the Bible speak of Muslims playing an important role in the end times?
- If not, then what could happen that would so change the world that the leaders of the Muslim faith have set into place?
- Only a mighty supernatural intervention could change the destiny they have set into place. From Revelation we know who wins … but how?
While this section could be more clear, Debi appears to be asserting that you can’t find anything about Muslims in the book of Revelation, so Christians must find a way to clean up and eliminate them before the end times.
Anyway, Debi’s series is in some sense a way of explaining why and how Muslims will be eliminated before the arrival of the end times—because they’ll all be converted by a graphic novel Bible, of course!
Which … sure Debi.
Debi’s footnote ends with this citation:
friendofmuslim at www.youtube.com/watch?v=XK1pnCldKZl for demographics.
The url for this video appears to have changed, but I found it. “Islam will overwhelm Christendom unless Christians recognize the demographic realities, begin reproducing again, and share the gospel with Muslims,” the unnamed creator of the video explains. This is literally the only video this account has. And yet, this account has … a lot of subscribers. It’s weird.
If nothing else this section feels like a harbinger of our current moment. Over the last few years, conservatives have proven themselves so inept at media literacy that they’ve mindlessly swallowed every outright lie they find on social media—so long as it’s in meme form or in a youtube video, of course, and so long as it confirms their underlying white nationalist assumptions. And, here we are. Congratulations, America.
I would be remiss if I closed this post without noting, once again, that Debi began this section with a full-throated condemnation of white supremacy. The first time I read these pages, it felt like whiplash. We went directly from Cheyenne’s anger that Magdalene would dare say something racist to an insistence that Muslims are dirty and smell, with genuinely no realization that these two things might be incompatible.
And utterly maddening.
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