[forwarded from my forum hyperlucidity
, where this and a lot more gets written in drabbles as the news goes on...also posted on to my blog Aureantes' Realm
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 Iraq...it'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, 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 others.
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....>:)...]