Last week President Obama blamed all the world’s violence on God-fearing American Christians. Or so the right wing would have us think…. (More)
I’ve mentioned Scuiridism before but I don’t write much about it. It’s not that I’m anti-religion. It’s just impossible to explain to humans. I could tell you that trying to pray without using your tail is like trying to smell without using your nose, but then you’d ask what that means and the answer is way too complicated.
So it’s hardly surprising, I guess, that the right wing has flown into a rage over President Obama’s remarks last week at the National Prayer Breakfast:
As we speak, around the world, we see faith inspiring people to lift up one another – to feed the hungry and care for the poor, and comfort the afflicted and make peace where there is strife. We heard the good work that Sister has done in Philadelphia, and the incredible work that Dr. Brantly and his colleagues have done. We see faith driving us to do right.
But we also see faith being twisted and distorted, used as a wedge – or, worse, sometimes used as a weapon. From a school in Pakistan to the streets of Paris, we have seen violence and terror perpetrated by those who profess to stand up for faith, their faith, professed to stand up for Islam, but, in fact, are betraying it. We see ISIL, a brutal, vicious death cult that, in the name of religion, carries out unspeakable acts of barbarism – terrorizing religious minorities like the Yezidis, subjecting women to rape as a weapon of war, and claiming the mantle of religious authority for such actions.
We see sectarian war in Syria, the murder of Muslims and Christians in Nigeria, religious war in the Central African Republic, a rising tide of anti-Semitism and hate crimes in Europe, so often perpetrated in the name of religion.
So how do we, as people of faith, reconcile these realities – the profound good, the strength, the tenacity, the compassion and love that can flow from all of our faiths, operating alongside those who seek to hijack religious for their own murderous ends?
Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history. And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ. Michelle and I returned from India – an incredible, beautiful country, full of magnificent diversity – but a place where, in past years, religious faiths of all types have, on occasion, been targeted by other peoples of faith, simply due to their heritage and their beliefs – acts of intolerance that would have shocked Gandhiji, the person who helped to liberate that nation.
Those are all historical facts. But they’re inconvenient to people like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-NC), who wants President Obama to declare a religious war on Islam:
When I hear the president of the United States and his chief spokesperson failing to admit that we’re in a religious war, it really bothers me. And I want to be somebody who can talk about the world as it really is.
In short, Sen. Graham wants President Obama to call righteous Christians to fight in another Crusade against evil Muslims. And he’s not alone:
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) said Monday that Barack Obama’s National Prayer Breakfast speech proved that Muslims are only religious group that has the President’s “undying” support.
“Everything he does is against what Christians stand for, and he’s against the Jews in Israel,” he said on Fox and Friends. “The one group of people that can know they have his undying, unfailing support would be the Muslim community. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the radical Muslim community or the more moderate Muslim community.”
Not only did he vilify Christianity, but he actually made a case to defend radical Islam, that’s killing people around the world. He actually defended what they were doing, and tried to draw some sort of twisted equivalency, moral equivalency, between what they’re doing today and what Crusaders did 800 years ago[.]
Yeah, I mean he’s really creating a propaganda bonanza for terrorists, because what he’s really saying is ‘Well look, these are freedom fighters, just like the patriots of the Revolutionary War. And they’re no different, their service is just as honorable.
Well sure, I guess “a brutal, vicious death cult that, in the name of religion, carries out unspeakable acts of barbarism” does sound a lot like like “freedom fighters” … especially if you stick your fingers in your ear and shout “LA-LA-LA-I-CAN’T-HEAR-YOU-LA-LA-LA” the whole time.
The Atlantic’s Peter Beinhart debunks the “moral clarity” argument behind the right wing obsession with declaring war on “radical Islam,” and the Washington Monthly’s Ed Kilgore takes it a step further:
As Beinart suggests, the real purpose of these demands seems to be a sort of defiance of “political correctness” – a test of the president’s willingness to offer unnecessary and counter-productive offense for the sheer hell of it. Some conservatives, of course, wish to wage war on Islam in its entirety, which would require a degree of unilateralism and bottomless resources that might daunt even Dick Cheney. Others are simply intoxicated with the alleged power of “moral clarity” involved in insulting people.
The problem with “moral clarity” is that it’s fundamentally immoral. “Moral clarity” describes a life or death struggle between Good (Us) and Evil (Them). Once you declare “religious war” with over a billion Muslims, hard questions of global justice get swallowed into a simplistic worldview of kill or be killed.
MahaBlog’s Barbara O’Brien offers a compelling explanation:
Every now and then one runs into something that gets to the heart of things, and I ran into such a thing this morning. This is from an article on karma (emphasis added):
We read the early Buddhist attacks on the caste system, and aside from their anti-racist implications, they often strike us as quaint. What we fail to realize is that they strike right at the heart of our myths about our own past: our obsession with defining who we are in terms of where we come from – our race, ethnic heritage, gender, socio-economic background, sexual preference – our modern tribes. We put inordinate amounts of energy into creating and maintaining the mythology of our tribe so that we can take vicarious pride in our tribe’s good name.
That’s at least 80 percent of most right-wing politics these days – the mythology of their tribe. It’s all about taking vicarious pride in being Christian, or American, or white, or whatever. And the other 20 percent is protecting the assets of the 1 percent.
President Obama told an inconvenient truth: that Christians, even American Christians, can also commit unspeakable acts of barbarism in the name of religion. And that offended conservatives who want the president to say “We’re Good and they’re Evil and this is a religious war” … while they insist the Crusades are ancient history.
And as I reread that last sentence, I think it would have been easier to explain why you should pray with your tail….
Good day and good nuts