It is a compelling argument and quite worthy of the 3 minutes it takes to read, but by no means but by no means should we regard the seeming disconnect between values and conduct as purely related to racial and religious identity and all their attendant fears and bigotries.
There’s a good deal of self-identification at work, as well. It is difficult to find a place so rife with illicit and immoral conduct than a protestant church. Don’t take that on my word. Statistically, despite decreasing numbers, American Evangelicals have the highest divorce rate (and highest rate of domestic violence) among all religious groupings, including non-believers (Atheists have the lowest rates).
And who can blame them? All that energy and intensity has to go somewhere, and it often goes into each other’s spouses. And why not? Forgiveness is at close at hand. They get Trump. They understand how difficult it is to keep things zipped up. God has his plan, after all. It wouldn’t happen if HE didn’t want it to (so slip out of that girdle, Mildred). Pots don’t call kettles black. Stones and glass houses. etc. etc.
When I was a kid, Muhammad Ali was a ubiquitous media figure, whether he was fighting or being interviewed or selling cologne on the television. I missed the early years of his career, and only learned about the political aspects of his fame much later. (a link to a fantastic article on Ali follows my post). As I encountered him, he was just one of the pantheon, a star of stars. Race, religion, and politics never entered into the equation any more than they did when I thought of my other childhood heroes: Willie Stargell, Mean Joe Green, and Mr. Rogers. I never realized until later just how bright Ali shined, the star among stars. Like many of my generation, we looked back on Ali with new interest long after he’d faded from public view, after he returned to the world stage at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, his trembling arm raised to light the Olympic flame, a man refusing to be bowed by age or the horribly ironic Parkinson’s that clawed at his body. I’ll never forget sitting in a restaurant near Wilson, Wyoming, drinking beer and eating pizza with friends, watching The Greatest ascend to light the torch, my eyes moist with respect and admiration. I cannot think of a person more deserving of the title, American Hero. He surely was that–as flawed as the rest of us, but possessed of a drive and determination that not only made him literally the greatest fighter of all time, but which drove him to risk everything for his beliefs, even when that meant potentially losing his career as well as his freedom. It is rare for us to see men who even come close to Ali’s stature. More is the pity.
I missed the whole “No-Go Zone” brouhaha of Fox News and Bobby Jindal in real time, having more important things to do like chase my wife around the house, whooping like a b-movie indian and accompany her on a quick lark of a trip down to Pittsburgh, an hour to the south, and back, for gourmet popcorn (I’m not kidding–add “standing in line for 25 minutes to pay $22 on popcorn” to the list of First World Problems), a bunch of Trader Joe deliciousness, and the best freaking shawarma and kibbeh EVER at Basha21 on Murray Ave. I moaned like a sexed up reverend while I ate food cooked up by the owners, right in front of us, and vowed to give ’em a plug. (This is it. This is the plug: eat some. Fly into the city if you must, or take the train–just have some.
Anyway, I can’t leave the internet alone for more than an hour and it gets itself in trouble, this time by some asshat on Fox News, an “expert” who raised a great stink in assuring that there were large swaths of France and England which are essentially “No Go Zones” for anyone who isn’t Muslim, places where even local government and law enforcement fear to go, where Sharia law is imposed. If that sounds like a April Fools story, you’re not alone. It turns out it was exactly that, and Fox News reluctantly walked back the story and apologized.
Not so Louisiana governor and republican presidential hopeful Bobby Jindal, a once-rising star in the GOP who, despite the earliness in the race, is already struggling for relevance in a post-Obama election where only one thing is certain: there ain’t no way right wing America is going to put another brown-skinned guy in charge, even if he was the second coming of Senator Joseph R. McCarthy himself. I’ve got a better chance to be President than he does so, naturally, when confronted by journalists the dude doubles down. Fox retracted, but not him. It’s beautiful.
I said, “For all you head-in-the-sand dirty rotten truth-deniers laughing at Fox News and Bobby Jindal this morning: “No-Go Zones” are absolute truth. We even have them in my small Appalachian university town. Of course, ours are enforced by Presbyterians, but…. #comedyisntthisfunny”
I immediately got this response from a conservative friend: A Pilipino women (sic) from my church will no longer travel back to the Philippines to visit her family because of the large Muslim population and the threat Catholics feel from radical Muslims. There may be no such thing as no go zones but there are areas around the world where the radical Muslim population is high and Christians will not go unless they want to risk death.
No good joke goes unpunished, it seems, so I was compelled to a retort about which I ended up feeling proud:
Plenty of dark corners in the third world–including some in Louisiana. But Jindal wasn’t talking about Nigeria or the The Philippines, The idea that people hate and fight over religious constructs is hands down the most absurd element of humanity–and the reality that cynical politicians like Jindal all over the world, regardless of creed, employ fear and hatred as tools to galvanize support is the most disgraceful. One might even call it sinful. Yet that’s what this is all about: all this Caliphate and Sharia nonsense has been stirred up by leaders over there, in an effort to maintain and expand their influence, and we in the west respond with bluster and bombs, playing right into their hands. The people doing the actual fighting on both sides believe they’re being noble, but they’ve been sold a rotten bill of goods. It’s telling when someone like Jindal, caught in his misstatement, refuses to admit it when even Fox has issued a retraction, but that too is a political strategem: tell a lie long and loud enough and it becomes like the truth.
There’s little left for the rest of us to do but laugh. Like Elvis (not that Elvis, the other one) said, “I used to be disgusted, now I just try to be amused”
I’ve been hit from several sources with Instagram pictures of famous folks clutching hashtag placards, earnest twitter tweets, petitions to “bring back our girls”–all in reference to the horrific kidnappings in Nigeria, and it just strikes me that neither petitions –nor the President’s team of negotiators, nor even the signatures of a few thousand really sincerely sympathetic suburbanites aren’t going to have a lot of weight with sociopaths who kidnap schoolchildren and pledge to sell them in the name of their god. Their merciful, loving god. Something tells me they’re going to have some explaining to do.
It strikes me that what we need instead are bounties and mercenaries. Plenty of mercenaries in the world–lets’ get all Blood Meridian on the bastards, pay rewards per returned girls + bonuses for for the confirmed pelts of religious whack-jobs. Hell, for the right reward I’m betting that some of the locals who are hiding these people might very well slit a throat or two in the night, in exchange for a little bling. Or some clean water. Yep, I’m sliding right on this one–asking myself, what would Teddy Roosevelt do? He’d swing that stick. I mean, we invaded Iraq over a simple Bush family vendetta–the very least we can do is unleash a little hell on some sick stone age sumbitches.
Seriously, as the cost of searching for that mysteriously crashed airplane in the rises by millions every day–worldwide it’s hundreds of millions spent already, in a search for corpses.
The government would be fools not to let these bad-asses go about their business–I’m remembering that old Patrick Swayze movie, Next of Kin or something like that, where a southern kid gets killed by the Mafia in Chicago and all his scary cousins creep out of the swamps with their compound bows and hunting knives and go to the city to exact revenge. Multiply that by a few hundred hardcore hunters, from teenagers to septuagenarians, confident that God and Justice are behind them, and you’ve got a force to be reckoned with. Pair these guys up with some machine-gun toting mercenaries and Nigerian soldiers, then stand back and watch.
“We are seasoned hunters, the bush is our culture and we have the powers that defy guns and knives; we are real men of courage, we trust in Allah for protection, but we are not afraid of Boko Haram,” said one elderly hunter, Baban Kano.
I’m not a man of violence, because violence rarely provides a solution, but sometimes the enemy is so stubbornly unreasonable, it’s crimes so horrible, that force is required. These madmen deserve nothing more than to be hastened into the judging company of their God–where I suspect things aren’t going to go so well for them.
So, like the old man said, “Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war.”
I try to be a tolerant guy. I don’t care what color you are, what country your parents came from, who you love nor–once I’ve gotten to know you–who you voted for. I won’t pretend those differences don’t exist: race, gender, orientation–all that stuff–is fascinating baggage to dig through, preferably over a drink, if for nothing else than for the wildly different experience these otherwise meaningless characteristics create, not to mention the social and cultural expectations and preconceptions engendered by the same.
I guess that’s why I don’t understand the homophobic bigotry of the conservative right, who despite their collective wailing and gnashing of teeth about “liberty” tend to expend exceptional energies in denying the freedom and liberties of homosexuals. Similarly, I’m disgusted by the propensity of Christians to aggressively proselytize, demonstrating their overarching, dismissive disrespect for the spiritual and religious beliefs of others while simultaneously scheming to shape and control–and ultimately subvert–all public offices.
Numerous Christian women have, in recent weeks, written letters to our local newspaper in what appears to be a concerted effort, advocating a forthright Christian litmus test as part of the requirements for president, assuring us that the Christian god does not approve of Barack Obama, reminding us that that “Many people seem to forget how this country (world, for that matter) was started and who started it. God! And it’s pretty bad when people think he should be removed from all aspects of our lives.” Finally, and this is my favorite, another woman asserted that the government’s failure to embrace and promote Christian values equates to repression and makes us “no better than the Taliban.” And no, she was not promoting irony.
Please, help me spread the Truth for YouthAugust 28, 2013
Dear Charles This week, OneMillionMoms.com and Revival Fires International are hosting the Eleventh annual “Truth For Youth” Week across the nation.
Very simply, we are giving away Bibles to all teenagers who commit to give the Bibles to their unsaved friends in school. Parents can order a Bible on behalf of their teens too!
Really, there are no catches, no gimmicks, no shipping costs. Everything has already been paid for on your behalf.
We just want to get Bibles into the hands of our youth.No one will call you and you won’t be added to any mailing lists.Order your Free Bible now.
Our goal this week is to give away at least 65,000 Bibles. We need your help to reach our goal.
The Truth For Youth Bible consists of the New Testament in the God’s Word translation, along with 100 pages of powerful full color comic stories that are packed with “absolute truth” regarding issues young people are faced with.
Thank you in advance for your help in getting Bibles into the hands of our youth.
During ‘The Truth For Youth” week you can help make reaching the 53.8 million youth in America’s public schools with ‘the truth” of God’s Word, a reality. To receive a free copy of the ‘Truth For Youth” to give away in school, order online here or call 1-800-733-4737. Limit: One Bible per teenager in each home.
In the interest of full disclosure, I have subscribed to the One Million Moms email campaign because 1) This chick is unintentionally hilarious, and 2.) I like to know who they’re targeting.
In this case, however, I am NOT AMUSED. What kind of people plot to use their own children to undermine and subvert the values of their peers’ families? How fiendish and twisted to employ a militia of children to wage war against other families? I’m pretty confident my kids wouldn’t go in for this sort of assault on our beliefs, but believe me: if a kid of mine did come home from school with a bible in their hand and a tale of attempted conversion, the parents of the kid are going to find me on their porch and in their face. No one has the right to interfere with the way I raise my children, and Ms. Cole’s breezy confidence in her insidious plot to corrupt the values of 65,000 families is shocking.
Imagine the outrage if a group of Muslim or Jewish missionaries embarked on a plan to “convert” 65,000 American children. Christian parents in California raised a stink over physical education classes that taught basic yoga! Sigh. I simply don’t understand the colonial, missionary zeal of the religion that instilled in me most of the (very few, I admit) moral strengths I can claim. What is it about Christians–and Muslims, for that matter, quite a lot of common ground here–that drive them to recruit, convert, or conquer “unbelievers” either true or perceived, why the need to remake the world. Why not live and let live? I mean, if I don’t get into paradise on good deeds and kindness alone (not actually criteria, according to what I heard from the pulpit), it’s just that much less often they’ll have to refill the bowl of heavenly corn nuts, right.
I love to tell stories with words and images, often with a darkly magical twist. While speculative fiction & dissecting pop culture are my primary passions, I also work with clients & brands by assisting with content creation, editing, marketing & design.