Sunday, January 28, 2007

T. touching down– finally right?

Sorry I dropped off the face of the earth, too. My computer died a while back, and given the frequent brown outs, and I thought I would just wait until the energy crisis and the economy sorted itself out. It's for that same reason, also, that the Internet cafes up here are always filled to capacity, Siraj, and I can never seem to get any screen time. But here I am, at last... kind of hard to believe what's happening with you in North Carolina right now, but we live in a strange world, and it gets stranger with each passing day. Of course, you must be feeling that more than anybody.

Anyway, I saw those images, too, and also the original so-called anti-Muslim cartoons published back in 2005 by Jyllands-Posten. I think such images are born out of existing conflict, not the origin of it. I certainly do not think that the cartoons do their publishers any favors, as they only serve to distract otherwise rational men from focusing their energies on the main point. The result ends up being international quibbling, when injured parties should instead be engaged in some kind of productive debate.

I'm not a humanist but I do think that as modern societies are pluralistic by nature, therefore modern governments must exercise secular policies. It's fine to have and hold values that lead one to develop a fulfilling and moral life. But I think it's wrong for anyone push their personal set of religious values onto those who do not share the same faith.

You know what especially irks me: When my fellow citizens argue that America was founded upon Judeo-Christian values. How can it be so? It's a historical fact that the country was founded because its citizens didn't want to pay taxes. Even Jesus counseled his followers to pay taxes and told them to "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's" (Matthew 22:21).

Clearly, few people in 1776 gave a damn about what Caesar wanted, and they certainly didn't want to pay their taxes.
Which is not to say they were wrong to revolt, only that numbskulls today can't stand up for Judeo-Christian values and then turn around and cherry pick only the ones that suit them. But they do, and that's why they're numbskulls, and self-centered one's at that. St. Paul in Ephesians 6:5-9 said, 'Slaves, obey your masters' –and I'm by no means a biblical scholar, but are we all going to take up slaves now? Or become slaves? Gotta love those Judeo-Christian values.

I think that if America is to stand for anything, then it should stand for fairness. Stand strong and play to win, but play fair. Maybe I’m naïve, but I don’t think there’s more to it than that.

You can't even say the U.S. was founded on the Ten Commandments regardless of our perception of what values our forefathers held, they were keeping themselves busy killing Indians and taking their land. I think people confuse the Constitution with The Declaration of Independence, because of the mention of 'Nature's God' in the Declaration of Independence. One could in fact argue: Just exactly what did they mean by the phrase? Did they mean Jesus? Nah, I think not.

At any rate, there is no mention of God in the United States Constitution. Conversely, nowhere in the Bible is a Bill of Rights or is The Rights of Man enumerated. One had no rights in biblical times, only directives and imperatives demanded on a frequently enslaved individual by an equally often and arguably delusional tyrant.

Therefore, what I'm getting at is: these cartoons, offensive as they may be, serve to remind those of us sitting on the sidelines, that religion has no place in government. The only place for religion is your heart, your brain and within the community of believers of which you are a part of. But don’t use your good book to tell me how to live, and I won’t impose mine on you and yours. Don't even get me started on Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and all the other crap we tell our children just so we can enjoy the perverse fun of watching their little hearts break when they realize the world is not what it seems, and their parents are liars.

But above all please, please don’t send me off to fight your battles because you think you have a direct line to God, or Allah, or whatever you want to call him/her/it. And while we're at it, let's not argue if 'God' and 'Allah' refer to the same supreme being or not. Both God and Allah refer to the god of Abraham: That alone makes them the same God. Happy to solve another world crisis for ya'.

As far as I'm concerned, God's name is unknowable and so men invent nicknames, simply because it makes communicating with Mother Nature easier. Zing!

Yes, the Jyllands-Posten cartoons were a cheap shot. I believe their intention was to stir up controversy of the highest magnitude and the publishers certainly got what they asked for. But the fact that mere cartoons so inflamed the world also tells us that some people –many people– will take just about any old thing and use it as an excuse to present themselves as victims. Even a cartoon –well, how ridiculous is that?

Someone flew airplanes into the World Trade Center on 911 and into the Petronas Towers on 7/27. It’s fair to ask why. I think it's even fair to ask 'Why did they do it?' And it is by all means reasonable to want to blow the bad guys up to smithereens. But it is never fair to riot because a cartoon offends. There's a lot in life that is offensive. Get over it, people.

What I find particularly disingenuous about those original protests is that there is already a long history of cartoons from the Arab world that reek of ugly anti-Semitism. So why does anyone care if Jyllands-Posten comes along and publishes this stuff? Why does the the Muslim world go mad? You can say the Western press likes playing with fire, loves provocation, but the Protestors have demonstrated themselves experts in flame throwing. –And for what? Tit for tat, yes. But an eye for an eye –no. Cheap shots deserve to be defended by another cheap shot, or returned with a shrug of the shoulders, not a violent riot.

Want to demonstrate how down you are protecting the Prophet’s back? Go get a job (or create one), feed your children, take the revolution back home and throw the bastards and tyrants out of their castles. Then come back to me and we can discuss honor.

In effect, both the publishers at Jyllands-Posten and the demonstrators used the cartoons to engage in mere international quibbling. It is obvious that both parties hoped to gain a rhetorical advantage through distraction. We'll see if the same thing happens in Canada with this new material. I hope not.

Rational men –and honestly, I am not always one– are better than that. Alas, the world has a deficit of rational men. –Not to mention a deficit of available computer time at Internet Cafes, too! I have to run, and I don't know when I'll have an opportunity to post again. It's been nice venting!

Nobody panic –I'm just stepping out for an espresso– ha!


Terry