Sunday, February 19, 2006

Okay, now that we have the "cartoon wars" going's a sermon.....

[forwarded from my forum hyperlucidity, where this and a lot more
gets written in drabbles as the news goes on...]

Personally, I think this debacle over the Danish cartoons has done
more than anything in the mind of the average rational person to
discredit the stance of those rioting and getting violent over them,
despite whatever the official statements and apologies and such have
been so far. No one religion/culture deserves special kid-glove
treatment unless all do, and we already know that the most vocal
factions in the Islamic world are unfortunately not those calling for
respect for other faiths and nations or treating them with civility.
It's more like, actually....hmm, the Republicans in Congress accusing
the Democrats of partisan politics when they vote against legislation
that is itself hostile and partisan from the start.

Now....personally, I'd like to leave any question of the United
States' virtue out of this -- we know my opinions on the war, and we
know that I have no fondness for the way that national foreign
policies have hobnobbed conveniently with princes and dictators (as
it suits their agendas) while worsening the plight of the average
working stiff in any aid-dependent nation.

But that has had nothing to do with religion...rather, religion has
been used as an excuse and a popular cause for retaliation, as much
so as national pride. It's not that kind of personal, people -- it's
not a matter of repeating the Crusades, and even there the factor of
faiths was a smaller thing than the matter of underlying greed and
striving for territorial control. Liberate the Holy Land? -- sure,
as much as we liberated's the same basic thing, when
ideologies are trumped up to rouse the public spirit, and governments
are just as willing to kill and suppress people of their own basic
creed (and even nation) if they happen to get in the way of the
greater plan.

But to have such a pricklish sense of vested dignity that one thinks
it justified to run amok and riot over the use of a holy figure in a
cartoon is...a bit much. A bit thin-skinned, a bit childish, a bit
spoiled in the demand for respect where none is given and much bile
is spewed on a regular basis. And, reasonable minds must admit, the
satirical points made were not devoid of truth.

If having an attitude of fanatical extremism exposed and pricked by
mere cartoons -- and this goes for ANY belief -- is too much to take,
so much that mobs must rise and chaos ensue in protest, then that
only proves that those who are quivering with outrage and fury at the
jab and the insult, hell-bent on demanding apologies and reparations
and capitulations are all the more deeply and tragically WRONG.

Strong words, right?--afterall, moral terms and absolutes aren't
supposed to be brought into the politics of nations and global
affairs anymore, not so long as hairs can be split and legalities
dissected and prerogatives claimed within the dry technical
boundaries of law. But this *is* moral, and the law has lost its
sense of moral discernment, had it bled dry by design to let
hypocrisies reign. Strong words must be used again, and strike to
the core of the matter.

Extremism is inherently wrong and pathological, no matter where it
arises and what creed (or lack thereof) it claims. Claiming
orthodoxy ("right belief") as one ideology's possession and all other
faiths, paths and philosophies as misguided, inferior, immoral and
right to destroy, is inherently wrong -- no matter from where the
impulse comes. One's beliefs may be worth dying for personally, but
they are never worth condemning others to death. Never. Claim
the "divine right" of spreading your way by force through all the
world, and you step over the line of morality. Any credo
of "manifest destiny" -- whatever its form -- is wrong, was wrong,
will always be the wrong way to conduct human affairs.

Unfortunately, though...

Unfortunately, Islam is one of those religions in the world whose
origin and history from the very start has been marked by reactionary
resentment and a quest for ascendency over the faiths and cultures
that preceded and surrounded and dominated it. In claiming
supersedence of both Judaism and Christianity by virtue of a superior
prophet and scriptures, it announced itself as being in struggle from
the start, emerging out of the inferiority complex, if you will, of
the Arabic peoples who lacked a unified and respected monotheism of
their own in a predominantly monotheistic world. Not just an
assertion of "we-too", but a "we-better-than-you" -- as with all
movements when they assert the chosenness of their mission over all

And this has nothing to do with finding ultimate truth within Islam,
mind you -- I have every respect for those who can find their truth
personally and live it honourably *for themselves* -- but it is an
immensely unrefuted and uncontested point within most of the Islamic
world, that Islam must and will triumph over all faiths.

As it is within America's so-called "heartland", that American
conservative fundamentalist Christianity must and will win out in the
end (and better fight for its aims sooner than later, 'cause the
Rapture's a-comin')...but then, most of the vitriol there is aimed at
domestic purported enemies than global ones, except for enforcing
their version of "moral values" in policy wherever the U.S. holds
effective sway...

At any rate, the idea is a backwards one that badly needs fighting-
against. *Not* that there's no value in people's religions, no
transcendent worth, nothing worth preserving, but that the ingrained
idea of any one religion -- or nation, or ideology -- being supreme,
perfect, and sacrosanct from all reproach or challenge or levity MUST
be brought down wherever it exists. Because that is the root of all
fanaticism. If you've ever read or seen _The Name of the Rose_, you
might recall that the root cause of all those apocalyptically-themed
murders was to protect against the dissemination of blasphemy in the
form of laughter, with comedy, satire and travesty being perceived as
insults against the dignity of God.

Which, of course, *always* needs fierce defending by the faithful...

I remember hearing on the radio one morning a few years ago that Pope
John Paul II had chosen not to sign to a declaration of religious
human rights, on the grounds that it would compromise the Church's
missionary efforts.

No faith is supremely perfect. No institution is supremely perfect.
Anytime an ideology becomes more important than the community of
people it's applied to, it loses its way. The reason revolutions
devour their own children is that maintaining the purity and control
of a philosophy becomes more of an ideal than maintaining and
bettering the state of humanity.

So that's the thing -- really, no one should get away with putting
their own religion on so high a pedestal that they themselves can't
tolerate laughter or an unflattering truth. People who are so deadly
serious are also bloody immature, and a danger to others around
them. Idolatry at its core doesn't consist in whether or not a
picture or a statue is allowed, but in the worship and importance of
images above their realities.

In preserving the sanctity of a symbol while ignoring or violating
that which it ought to represent. In using the Ten Commandments as
an excuse for social tyranny. In taking the name of Jesus as a flag
for trampling on one's brother, or extolling the virtues of the
Virgin Mary while demeaning and repressing the women who are real and
alive in the world around. Or invoking the spectre of the Holocaust
as the one atrocity that can never ever be equalled or even compared
with, keeping it in hand as a constant justification for every deed
of oppression, violence and chauvinism thereafter. Making it a crime
to burn the American flag -- stop me if you've heard this one --
while systematically unraveling all the liberties and justice and
greater human possibilities that it was made to serve as the banner
for in the first place.

And in that respect, all those who show themselves willing to resort
to threats and violence and destruction over the implications of mere
images are truly and pathetically idolaters. They have lost the way,
whatever their way -- if ever indeed they had it.


[Hmm....anyone else wanna pitch in some thoughts? I know I'm being
rather bold and absolute in my assertions of truth, but hey--I ain't
gonna execute anyone for not going my way....>:)...]


Anonymous said...

My Inaugural Address at the Great White Throne Judgment of the Dead, after I have raptured out billions!


Your jaw will drop!

Aureantes said...

I...see....and this is inaugurating you in particular as what, now?

(Personally, I try not to flaunt my messianic proclivities too much -- sometimes people get cross...:-?...)