On the Left, Bigotry, and Islam
In the few left leaning blogs I manage to read a continual theme comes up, that the right is “fear mongering” or as Mr Greenwald writes:
Thus, white evangelical Ministers are free to advocate American wars based on Biblical mandates, rant hatefully against Islam, and argue that natural disasters occur because God hates gay people. They are still fit for good company, an important and cherished part of our mainstream American political system. [emphasis mine]
My remarks on the bold text above … below the fold.
Actually in the company Mr Greenwald keeps, Christians who don’t keep their faith hidden (under a basket?) aren’t considered good company. Mr Greenwald probably would regard myself and most of the (Christian) contributors to my RSS reader “not good company.” I recall some time ago reading a book, the title of which I forget, which was a diatribe against Christian evangelicals, fundamentalists, and so on. The author recounted, without irony, that he was surprised once at a dinner party discover that he was conversing with a fundamentalists and that person wasn’t reprehensible and actually on reflection was nice, pleasant, and a good conversationalist.
Zizek writes about acceptable bigotry in Europe in which while anti-Semitism and racial bigotry is socially unacceptable it’s acceptable to make any sort of derogatory remark about Serbs. Likewise in America, the acceptable bigotry is a localized phenomena. It is generically not allowed to make racially tinged remarks, i.e., anti-Black. However, in the North-East you can ascribe any sort of evil to fundamentalists on the Christian right, in other places any sort of anti-Catholic remarks are allowed. In Black communities you, likely, can make anti-Semitic or anti-Korean remarks without anyone batting an eyelash. Just about every group it seems has a group which is “Other” enough for which any variety of unsupported generic slurs can be made which pass unremarked.
On the first highlighted remark above, Islam, there is a problem, which is Islam itself. It is true of all religions everywhere that there are those which believe more or less than the rest. That is, there are shadings in how fervent believers hold and follow the teachings of their religion. This has always been the case. The problem that arises with Islam, which makes it different from any and all other major religions, is that the consequence of fervent belief is violence. Christian martyrs died as examples of their faith. Orthodoxy remembers them every day, for example from today’s Synaxarion:
The Holy Martyrs Paul and his sister Juliania were executed under the emperor Aurelian (270-275) in the Phoenician city of Ptolemaida. One time the emperor had occasion to journey to Ptolemaida. Among those meeting him was Paul, who signed himself with the Sign of the Cross, and this was noticed. They arrested him and threw him in prison. On the following day, when they brought him to trial, he openly and boldly confessed his faith in Christ, for which he was subjected to fierce tortures. Juliania, seeing the suffering of her brother, began in front of everyone to denounce the emperor for his injustice and cruelty, for which she was likewise subjected to torture. They beat the martyrs, tore at their bodies with iron hooks, scorched them over red-hot grates, but they were not able to break the wondrous endurance of the Lord’s confessors. [….] The people crowding about and seeing the suffering of the saints began to murmur loudly, and Aurelian gave orders to behead the martyrs immediately. With gladdened face the brother and sister went to execution singing: “For Thou (Lord) hath saved us from the vexatious and hath shamed those hating us” (Ps. 43 : 7). [excerpt shortened for reasons of brevity]
There are no examples of martyrs in the “lists” who died fighting their opponent. Contrast with the homicidal “martyrs” running amuck in the Middle East now. This is not a casual difference. The heroes of Christendom, i.e., Saints, are non-violent. Fervent faithful Christians are not dangerous in the way that fervent Muslims are. Similar remarks, I think, can be made of the devotees of Buddha or the Hindu faith.
Now all this isn’t to say that moderate Muslims don’t exist in great numbers. However the problem of the fervent violent Muslim is one which the left prefers to deny. Denial of that problem isn’t exactly a solution and there have been exactly zero “solutions” to this problem suggested by anyone to date right or left. However the right at least acknowledges that this is a problem and that military resistance to the germinating violence is often required. The right acknowledges that this is a problem which needs confronting. The left, it seems, has this recurrent fantasy that “being nice”, “being moderate”, and “engaging in dialog” will make the problem go away. That seems dangerously disingenuous.
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