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New Hampton faith leader: Capitol riots rooted in history of racism

Willy Mafuta (Iowa Conference United Methodist Church)

NEW HAMPTON, Iowa — In the wake of Wednesday’s riots at the U.S. Capitol, an Iowa pastor said the country needs to fully address its past so it can move on from tensions he feels are tied to white privilege.

From social media to political commentators, observations were made about how the mostly-white rioters supporting President Donald Trump were able to access Congressional offices without much pushback.

Rev. Dr. Willy Mafuta, senior pastor at First United Methodist Church of New Hampton and member of the Iowa Annual Conference’s Anti-Racism Leadership Team, said it’s clear a double-standard was at play, noting Black Lives Matter demonstrators recently saw a stronger authoritative presence at their peaceful protest in Washington.

“We cannot continue to live in a country where one segment of the population claimed their right by simply ignoring the rule of law,” Mafuta insisted.

It’s unclear if any of the rioters had ties to white supremacist groups. However, a number of videos and photos showed rioters carrying Confederate flags. Mafuta thinks events from the past four years, including Charlottesville, and the failure to stem the tide of white nationalism contributed to rioters violently challenging the results of the election.

He said America’s history with racism has never been properly dealt with, and not doing so could result in more events like this. He describes the current environment as a country with recycled “Jim Crow” laws.

Many critics of Trump say he has played a key role in stoking racial tensions by not forcefully condemning these extremist groups.

But Mafuta said America as a whole needs to fully accept that white privilege still exists, creating different rules and standards for different races.

“As long as they cannot accept that, we will not be able to move forward,” Mafuta contended.

To engage more Americans on this topic, Mafuta suggested it will take a variety of leaders, including political and religious, to create more conversations about equality.

He added people in power can have a tremendous effect in getting everyday people to listen.

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