Robert Glenn Howard (University of Wisconsin–Madison)

Arming Mother Mary for Ukraine: The Ethical Entailments of a Wartime Meme

At the outset of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, a conservative American social media influencer posted an icon of the Virgin Mary dubbing her “St. Raytheon of the Javelin“. Soon, vernacular variations of Mother Mary cradling an American-made anti-tank weapon flooded social media. Deriving its power by combining two already powerful images – a tool of war and the Christian conduit of divine compassion – some feel she is a sacrilege. Others find her an inspiration. As we recreate, reedit, re-post, and give her our likes, what responsibility do we bear when we participate in giving Mary a gun?