Monday, November 16, 2015

Week of 11/15/2015

This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things
So it’s happened again.
Here I was early on Friday evening getting my thoughts together for this week’s column, getting ready to rip the bible-thumping freedom-haters over their annual seasonal temper tantrums and their token targets of opportunity, when it happened.
The ultimate in freedom-hating religious extremism has struck again, this time in Paris.  Six violent incidents at the same time, over 160 people dead, over 300 injured, and all attributed to the so-called Islamic State group.  Paris is under siege, again.  The world is in shock and in mourning, again.
And my first thought was “Well there goes my ripping the bible-thumpers over Starbucks!  I can’t rag on bible-thumpers and Fox News and Talk Radio over their artificial orchestrated temper tantrums about Starbucks and their plain red holiday cups with what’s happened over in Paris!  That just isn’t right.”
And, on the onset, it does seem petty to rip the bible-thumpers over their protests about plain red Starbucks cups when you compare it to Koran-slamming extremists with their bombs and guns.  Orchestrated pompous self-serving outrage versus orchestrated self-righteous self-serving death and destruction... yeah, the two things are far from interchangeable.  The former seems downright petty when compared to the latter.
But then I had a revelation of sorts.
No, these two things are not comparable in and of themselves.
But they are cut from the same cloth of extremism.
Let’s get brutally honest here... while the methods of self-important fury are different, the Christians and their Starbucks-hate have some things in common with the so-called “Islamic State” extremists.
Both groups strongly believe that they are entitled to create a religious state.  The only difference here is technical: Christian vs Islam.  They both strongly believe that they are entitled to force others to live under their particular interpretations of religion.  The only difference here is the method: Christians prefer to have the government they control to force it, while Muslims bypass the middlemen and do it themselves.  They both falsely believe that they are being continually “persecuted” simply because their views and interpretations are not universally accepted.  In fact, they continually feed off that phony feeling of “persecution” as a way to keep their myrmidons in a siege mentality so they will accept anything they’re told needs to be done without question.
And, yes, I have seen Christian extremists go the way of the Muslim extremist.  We all have seen it.  Eric Robert Rudolph bombed the 1996 Olympics because of it.  Clayton Lee Waagoner sent fake Anthrax threats to women’s clinics because of it.  Doctors and clinic workers have murdered in cold blood for decades by Christian extremists who claim they are entitled to dish out death and destruction because of their beliefs.
And before some Christians chime in with “well, those people aren’t really Christians because Christianity is about love and forgiveness”, I challenge you to read that Bible you clench so tightly like it was a life preserver.  “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth,” said the carpenter’s son in the Book of Matthew (10:34).  “I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”   Does that sound like love and forgiveness to you?  And that’s just one passage of many in that book that are used to justify violence.  And the fact that you decide to cherry-pick which parts to ignore and which ones to latch on to makes you “not really Christian” as well, not to mention it makes you a hypocrite.  You don’t allow the Muslims to use your excuse when it comes to their extremists, so why should anyone in this world afford you that luxury?  I seem to recall a certain carpenter’s son had a parable about splinters and planks for just such an occasion.
Now consider this: ten years ago, we found out that not everyone in “Gay Paris” were all about “liberty, equality, and fraternity”.  There were enclaves of Muslims, mostly from other countries, that refused to mix in with the general populace.  They kept to themselves and fed off their resentment and feelings of persecution, and they found themselves getting angrier and angrier.  That anger finally erupted in violence and rioting that lasted for weeks.
Does anyone really think that this kind of malignant anger and frustration would just be turned off like a light switch?  It didn’t boil overnight, and it certainly can’t be turned off as quickly.  And then you add to it a whole batch of new refugees from the Middle East coming in by the tens of thousands, chased away by extremists like the Islamic State group.  It was only a matter of time before that pot started to boil again.
Now we may think that phony outrage over a cup here in America is nothing, but in truth, it’s all part of the same game that has been going on for years.  Fox News has been generating this phony “War on Christmas” every year almost since they first started broadcasting.  Every year they target companies that say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”.  They go after schools that cancel Christmas plays and ban references to the Christian elements of the season.  And lately they’ve morphed it into a general phony “War on Christians”, so they can play the phony persecution game year-round.  Just like the Muslim extremists do.  All the while, stirring the pot, building the anger and the resentment, and hoping that it just won’t boil over like it did in Paris in 2005. 
It’s a dangerous game they play, knowing that if it backfires, all they have to do is say “it was just a bunch of isolated nutcases that have no connection whatsoever to the message of peace and love that we provide.”
And you know what?  We’ll let them get away with it too.  Lest we be accused of “stifling their freedom of religion”, even if their religion is stifling all of our freedoms in the process.
We say “it’s just a cup”, but the religious extremists here in America say “Today, it’s a cup.”  And tomorrow, they’ll find something else to target to keep their followers pissed off.  It could be a newspaper cartoon or a rock concert or a book.  Because that’s what they do, and they’ll be the first to tell you that at least they’re not acting like the Muslims extremists in Paris.  At least... not today.

No comments: