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by Devil's Advocate
Thursday, Sep. 16, 2010 at 12:50 PM
Any fanatic can burn a book, or a flag, because it doesn’t require rational explanation. But anyone with the brain of a troglodyte could appreciate there is complexity to the reality of most religions and belief systems. Once again high-minded religion plays its hand in the human affairs of politics, as Jones also sees the trumped up Muslim Mosque controversy, to be built close to ground zero, as seriously provocation. But real patriotism includes having a willing to seek out the truth.
Koran Burning versus Real Patriotism
By the devil’s advocate
The burning of a book, be it secular or religious, offers little in the way of cogent criticism. Any fanatic can burn a book, or a flag, because it doesn’t require rational explanation. And yet burning still has the dramatic effect of engaging violence through destruction. It is clearly an “inflammatory” act of rejection—showing no subtly and little thought.
But anyone with the brain of a troglodyte could appreciate there is complexity to the reality of most religions and belief systems. For example, religions, as institutions, have generally helped societies establish norms of morality in “temporal” time, even if some have had a morbid focus of what happens after death. Still the major effect has been the same—securing peace and prosperity with standards of morality in the here and now—even if, at times, they could equally create a partial form of psychological slavery.
And granted, there are moments in history when acts of defiance and rebellion are in order—such as when a government pretends to act in accordance with its own laws and values but does not. Surely then sedition of burning a symbol for perceived hypocrisy or criminality, and as argued an act of free speech, sends some sort of message—if it offers little in the way of diplomacy or awareness to nuance.
But what is striking about Rev. Terry Jones decision to burn the Koran, as he calls evil, is his complete lack of awareness of the Christian Bible and Jewish Torah, which can also be shown to be demonstrably evil in some of their passages. (See Charles Kimball’s When Religion Becomes Evil, John Shelby Spong’s The Sins of Scripture, or EvilBible.com and SkepticsAnnotatedBible.com.)
One could argue that Reverend Terrance Jones is just a narrow-minded and parochial man; or he is just one of many of the hoi polloi of populism easily stirred to passionate acts by self-righteousness and twisted demagoguery. But he clearly invokes, as his justification, the “absolute” truth or Biblical Truth as to why the Koran is evil. And this is the mindset of the fanatic—to see things in terms of everything being either black and white or good and evil.
And once again high-minded religion plays its hand in the human affairs of politics, as Jones also sees the trumped up Muslim Mosque controversy, to be built close to ground zero, as seriously provocation. This political debate was spurred on by the Anti-Defamation League, that also engaged in an inflammatory act by suggesting Islamism, that is the religion and its followers to be thought evil; just like ADL has previously sponsored the showing of a film that also had similar prejudicial effects toward Muslims and the Islamic religion.
Now the mosque issue has become a political potato with demagogues wanting to pounce all over it. But more importantly the controversy had the effect of reinforcing the conspiratorial “lie” that 9/11 was carried out by “radical Muslims;” when there is very strong indications that Osama bin Laden did not have a thing to do with 9/11—rather we Americans were subject to “phony” videos of him claiming responsibility, obviously created by “covert” third-party sources. Nevertheless the sound bite would play over and over again, over the years, until most Americans accepted it as gospel truth.
Apparently the hidden “goal” of creating animosity and war between Western countries, that is those comprised of mostly Christians, and Islamic countries, was significantly advanced because of 9/11. Some people wanted a “clash” of civilizations, especially since the War on Terrorism closely overlapped those countries with oil, gas or need of pipelines.
But real patriotism includes having a willing to seek out the truth about what really happened on 9/11 and why. Unfortunately there are few real patriots in the U.S. where people are more comfortable believing official lies and being misled by wedge issues. Not even most progressives would dare look too deeply into this event for fear of what they might learn.
Yet one could ask a significant question about 9/11— “Who Benefited?” That is what mystery readers learn to ask. We know, for example, Larry Silverman, as the recent buyer of the Twin Towers, benefited. We know drug cartels re-opened the opium trade that Osama bin Laden and the Taliban had closed down to a trickle. We are sure investors in the military industrial complex again could make money on America’s addiction to war. We know oil and energy companies were to benefit and financially they did. Also we know Israel benefited because they seriously wanted Iraq defanged and “strongly” lobbied the U.S. to go to war against their enemy. Right-wing elements that wanted more Executive Presidential command won out as some were even hankering for the de-establishment of American civil rights. Also 9/11 advanced more paranoia of all things Islamic and to create a multi-generation war as a new era of Christian crusades against the Islamic empire. And naturally George Bush’s popularity initially went up when he became a war president—but being the mediocre man he was he lost much of his standing over the longer haul.
Powerful spheres of influence actually benefited from 9/11. But how did Osama bin Laden, or countries and people in the Middle East such as Iraq and Afghanistan, or even Al Qaeda, to the extent that it is a real threat, benefit? There does not seem to be much logical motivation for such a provocative act of war against the security apparatus of the U.S.—and all the planning involved?
Nevertheless, arguments about burning the Koran and whether a Mosque should be allowed in New York City work well as red herrings, because they continue to reinforce the idea that argued 19 Arabs, under the direction of one Osama bin Laden hidden in a cave on the other side of the planet, actually carried out this act of war against American civilians.
Similarly the crafted incident of the pantyhose bomber around Christmas worked very well as a red herring to cover up, and stop, any debate on whether Muslims held in Guantanamo, for years now, had a right to a public trial. Instead the two corrupt parties of the United States have continued to allow the military to quietly ship those captives, some who were tortured, out of our country so we Americans will not learn the details of how and why they got there—including children and elderly—as our judicial system continues to also degrade and be subjugated to more political authoritarianism.
Nevertheless, despite some revealing videos that came out from the 9/11 Truth Movement, such as Loose Change, even within the context of a propaganda war meant to discredit it and conspiracy theorists, and also hireling idiots pretending to be truthers only to act stupidly and confuse issues to also discredit the movement, the reality seems most Americans really don’t care or want to know the truth about what really happened on 9/11; anymore than Rev. Terry Jones wants to know the truth about the Bible—that is it is “not” gospel truth—rather it is the product of human minds pretending to speak for a God—and meanwhile imposing their own ideas of a God on those naïve enough to believe and follow.
And no doubt, Jesus himself, was a fanatic of sorts, at least we can gain such perspective from accounts written about him in the four gospels that spent plenty of effort creating frothy polemics between the “bureaucratic” Pharisees and that minority who claimed true righteousness. From these perspectives of bickering amongst various Jewish factions we can see attitudes of sanctimony on all sides. Still the to-be Christians defined the church of believers as those people who practiced ethical standards—rather than relying on the more narrow presumption of Jewish heredity—and this is certainly radical because it still speaks to the Middle East today and various concerns of ethnic identity.
Nevertheless, one outcome of authoritarian religions, like the three Abrahamic religions to which we refer, is they help condition people to a tendency to blind obedience to authority, and equally to a blind form of patriotism that does not question government. It is similar to what Eric Fromm spoke of in his Escape From Freedom, as a kind of apathy of evil, or what Eric Hoffer referred to as a “religiofication” of a political cause in his The True Believer.
Factions of the Tea Party had an opportunity to see how corrupt the system has become. Instead, opportunists like Glenn Beck, and his “Restoring Honor” rally, are hoodwinking many of them, and steering them back to the two party system. (Shortly after the rally there was leaked a video clip of Beck having a photo shoot in which he was putting Vicks rub in his eyes to make him look like he was crying—real honest honor—don’t yah know—like Sara Palin trying to sound like the people from Lake Wobegon, in Keiller’s Prairie Home Companion Show—as if we are all so homey.)
Yes, there they were calling for a religious revival like a bandwagon back to nowhere. And there is nothing to wanting to restore America’s honor—since the Bush Administration especially did so much to spoil it. But then Glen Beck goes on to question President’s take on Christianity, as branded as understanding the world through “liberation theology,” that is, seeing the world as victims and oppressors, as Beck worded it. But how funny a Fox news anchor would make such an accusation when Rupert Murdock’s Fox News helped lie our people into going to war with an aftermath of killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people in process? And how funny this newly minted Mormon would question Obama’s interpretations of faith, when few Mormons said anything, while proselytizing in the south, about U.S. supported atrocities in Central America, whereas some Catholic priests were murdered when they risked their lives to speak out for the oppressed and poor?
This cynical ploy on the part of Beck is another attempt to paint Obama as a Marxist, since liberation theology started in Latin America where some Catholic priests believed industrial countries were exploiting the people. Since then the propaganda has been one of labeling them all communists. Get it—there are no oppressed—there are no victims—and if you feel empathy there is something wrong with your religious instincts.
Moreover this is an attempt to subordinate the power of religions to the power of modernity’s economic religions—in which religions are not to criticize the “sanctity” of economic ideals. So now we must maintain an unquestioning loyalty of economic propaganda—and see everything in terms of black and white or good and evil. Investor money can do not wrong; and therefore there should be no checks on how the wealth class invests money or make profit. Laissez capitalism is “beyond” human scrutiny like God has an authoritarian right to make commands, and control governments and their governed. (But the idea that religion should work for state power, or the power of the rich, is nothing new and it certainly does not foster the individual right to self-determination or personal opinion.)
Glenn Beck is far more an issue than 15 minutes of fame for a redneck of a Pentecostal preacher from Florida. Beck calls liberation theology “collectivist” psychology. But every rightwing form of governance has demanded various forms of collectivist conformity—including some religions that have used the terrorism of threat of hell as the ultimate form of coercion—like one should not be concerned about political issues when one is so seriously concerned about what happens to the self after death.
One wonders what kind of psyche Mr. Beck espouses—if not some kind of subordination to his own half-baked presumptions—even as he so readily espouses “individual” salvation. Somehow he wants Joe McCarthy’s style of beheading individualism—while speaking in tongues? Besides Mormonism doesn’t especially espouse a lot of individuality or does it?
The Tea Party is partially right about big government and big spending. But what do they say about the huge increase in Homeland Security spending and its bureaucracy? Several weeks ago the Washington Post started reporting on a study called “Top Secret America” in which it revealed 1,200 government organizations and 1,900 private companies were working on counter-terrorism, intelligence and security, spending billions and billions of tax dollars. What does the Tea Party have to say about this?
Both political parties are corrupt. Ralph Nader tried telling Americans but they accused him of an “ego” issue—total B.S., but the fools swallowed it. Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul were the two main party candidates who were actually interested in representing real Americans but the mainstream media and the two corrupt parties, and the shadow government, were not going to let either become president.
Obviously there needs to be change—but it is not going to come by having the blind lead the blind. Still the books have “already” been written. Good politicians need quote the books that have shed light on what has already been revealed to win elections. John Dean wrote a book on the authoritarian personalities in the Bush Administration—certainly Barbara Boxer could shed light on Carly Fiorina’s obvious authoritarian personality with her accusations that Boxer had the temerity to question authority rather than just salute.
Certainly good politicians can learn to teach Americans how to think. Why did all these people bother to write all these revealing books about our government, and yet few people, or even candidates, are educating themselves or others? Why, for example, did David Brock bother to write his Blinded by the Right?
Our founding fathers had a debate between the federalists and the anti-federalists. These people were educated to human foible and political vulnerability. These debates had little to do with some authoritarian God commanding anyone on anything. If patriots owe this country anything they owe themselves the responsibility of becoming savvier—especially more so than the current fair of more chicken hawk poster boys crying on the mall.
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