I need to deviate a bit this weekend – too much really bad news sucking the energy right out of me – so, no specific new news articles to comment on. Just some more general commentary tied to the past couple of weeks’ worth of news.
I, and nearly everyone else, have already commented on the massacre at Charlie Hebdo. Subsequent to my post, there was more news about the killing of the suspects, the taking of hostages, more death. What does seem to get lost quite a bit in the hyperbolic chamber that is news reporting in the US is the fact that there was a Muslim police officer killed in the CH attack, as well as a Muslim worker in the Kosher market that hid customers in the freezer to protect them. Much of the, understandable, criticism of Islam has come from the Koran itself. A text that does call for the death and destruction of non-believers, but one that also requires charity. But before members of the other Judeo-Christian based religions throw too many stones, perhaps they might actually want to read the old testament, which was not entirely full of happy outcomes for those that disappointed a frequently wrathful God. Religion, in its many variants, has been used for millennia as an excuse by those in power, those that would like to be in power, those that dislike change, those that would like more change. It has been used to keep the oppressed content, to foment revolution – both for & against. To exercise control, and seldom to relinquish it. There have been too many atrocities committed in the name of religion, or in the case of the Communist purges, in the name of the State (as a replacement for religion). Whatever one’s own personal spiritual beliefs and religious views might be, no one has the right to force their own beliefs on anyone else. We can try to engage, discuss, teach – but we cannot force. I’d like to think that the Catholic Church learned that after the Inquisition, or at least after the post-Inquisition witch hunts. Forcing doesn’t actually work – ultimately all it does is lay the seeds for revolution somewhere down the road. All things, people and civilizations included, will collapse under pressure. Christians, in fact, might want to spend more time on the New Testament, and less on the Old when considering how to express their own beliefs.
I also need to vent a bit about our ‘post racist’ present here in the US. No, the explosion outside of the NAACP offices in Colorado Springs was not worthy of an excessive amount of attention, after all, there was no loss of life, little property damage, and it was not the first, and is unlikely to be the last, act by disaffected people with violent tendencies against whatever group they blame for their problems. I’m not sure it is even indicative of an ongoing race relations issue – although many other items in the news certainly are. What does bother me, is that this event received almost no media attention at all. Certainly the events in Paris the following day far outweighed this, but it is still a bit disconcerting. It is far more disconcerting to me that there is a loud voice in this country that chooses to refer to those that call out racial concerns, and racist behaviors, as being themselves racists. So that we have a complete inability to engage the country, though the media, in an intelligent discussion about the situation because obviously wanting to open the dialogue is itself racist. In this regard, I feel like I’ve dropped back through a wormhole to the earlier days of the Civil Rights movement – back to the days when ‘This is John Birch Country’ was proudly displayed on billboards along highways in the Southeastern US. Back to when the EEOC was openly called ‘reverse racism’.
I’ve said this before, and I will almost certainly say it again: No matter what it says on their website, not matter how benign the intents of many of its members & supporters, the TEA Party did not originate as a true grass-roots movement, and, like the modern incarnation of the Libertarian Party, it has received a great deal of its financing through groups and individuals that are far less interested in the rights of the individual citizen than they are in the push to get less government intervention over their multinational corporations. They are not about ‘we the people’, they are being used to help push through more concentration of power in the hands of the entitled few. Somewhere along the line, someone discovered a brilliant strategy for getting what they want – distraction. And our electronic, perpetually connected, world has made it almost too easy. Keep highlighting the differences, demonize various segments of the populace, and then you can pass an omnibus budget that includes a huge increase in campaign contributions, and a gutting of the financial protection acts, without anyone really caring. We are often our own worst enemy.
So yes, the global threat from Islamic fundamentalists is real, and so is racism in the US. I don’t know what the answers are, but I do know that neither is going to be successfully addressed by ignoring it, or by violently opposing it.