From Julie Burchill to Christian Evangelism to the BNP


by Sid (Faisal)
23rd February, 2009 at 10:38 am    

Julie Burchill attests to “trying hard to be a Christian” and she’s loving it.

“I believe, literally, in the God of the Old Testament, whom I understand as the Lord of the Jews and the Protestants. I’m a Christian Zionist, as well as a Christian feminist and a Christian socialist. But over the past two decades, almost without me knowing it, the Christian part has become the most important.”

But because Julie Burchill is the world’s leading expert on “Julie Burchill”, her exploration of the motivation that drives a Christian Zionist such as she, seems less to do with the Love of Christ than the hatred of secularists, atheists and Muslims.

“When one considers the shocking plight of British Muslims who seek to convert to Christianity, it seems to me quite offensive that Christianity should be dismissed by Dawkins and his like in the same breath as Islam.”

To see the transfiguration of Julie Burchill from foul-mouthed enfant terrible to foul-mouthed curtain twitcher is to go from the sublime to the irrational. A searing indictment of what the pressures of middle class conformism can do to even our heroes.

Why she should think an atheist should logically place religion A to be qualitatively of a higher order than religion B because it is harder to convert from B to A is anyone’s guess. However, if you consider that Dawkins approves of Patrick Sookhdheo’s tendentious views on Islam in spite of being an evangelical fundamentalist Christian in The God Delusion, you can forgive Burchill for being confused.

Although following Burchill’s confessions from Punk to Protestant Frump will no doubt turn into a long and depressing tale, which you will be happy to learn that I will no longer dwell on, Theo Hobson’s response to it is to write an ingratiating “thumbs up” to Julie. Hobbs is a Christian blogger who has in the past written some thoughtful and thought provoking articles. But here he is happy to validate Burchill except his response to the quote (above) is very bizarre,

“Also, I sympathise with your observation that Richard Dawkins is wrong to lump Christianity and Islam together. But – whoah! – let’s tread carefully here. If there’s one monotheism that stands out from the three, it’s not Islam for being violent: it’s Christianity for being non-violent.”

Theo Hobbs must have never heard of the violence that is replete in early Christian history. For a start, he must have forgotten about the unlovely events of Pope Gregory’s Inquisitions. Was he asleep during the lectures on Christian history of the last four hundred years which included the millions upon millions of deaths of Europeans during the Reformation, the treatment of pagans and Wiccans. And wherefore the Christian roots of the Nazi Holocaust?

And as for Christianity’s modern history, the American “Culture Wars” may have produced it’s first anti-secular, anti-liberal Christian suicide killer who left behind a gut-wrenching manifesto of hate. These are the words of Jim Adkisson who opened fire on 200 people in a church because he hated the fact that he thought his country was being taken over by “liberal chickenshit”, homosexuals, communists and socialists. For him, it was an act borne out of hopelessness but rooted in patriotism and religious extremism.

“Don’t let the word church mislead you.” he wrote “It isn’t a church, it’s a cult. They don’t even believe in God. They worship the god of secularizm (sic). These sick people aren’t liberals, they’re ultra-liberals. This is a collection of sicko’s weirdo’s and homo’s.” (‘sic)

Andrew Brown deals with the awful story of Jim Adkisson. The conclusion he brings together is worth repeating,

“But the really worrying element of his story is that there’s so little that is special about his hate-filled rhetoric against the “liberals”. You could find it all over the right-wing bits of the Internet, and even here you find the use of “liberal” to mean “traitor”. I think this is worth bearing in mind, especially by Guardian readers, when we look at the fuss about defining extremist Islamist rhetoric. There are millions of people who listen to hate radio in the US, and very few of them have ever killed any liberals. Similarly, there are at least hundreds of thousands of people who have heard flaming Islamists denunciations of the wicked West in Britain and hardly any of them have killed anybody as a result. You need more than propaganda to become a homicidal lunatic. But without propaganda the suicide killers would never have gone mad in the way that they did.”

Although Britain probably has a lot less ‘hate filled rhetoric against liberals’ floating around the public radio networks or other forms of public access media, that is not to say it does not lurk in a postcode near you. Harry’s Place regular, Edmund Standing, posted a superb research piece on British Fascists and ‘Christian’ racism well worth reading:

That BNP members are promoting racialised forms of Christianity should be of great concern to us all. Colin Farquhar’s connection to Alan Campbell, an extremist who promotes the writings of ‘Christian Identity’ preachers, is particularly worrying. The violence associated with Christian Identity teachings has so far largely been confined to America, but if such ideas take hold among Britain’s fascists this could become genuinely dangerous.

In April 1999, a former BNP member made contact with Christian Identity groups in America and visited the website of Kingdom Identity Ministries, a ‘church’ that promotes the teachings of, amongst others, Bertrand Comparet and Sheldon Emry. That same month, this former BNP member carried out three nail bombing attacks in London, killing 3 people and injuring 129. This man was, of course, David Copeland.

Secularists, liberals and religious moderates of all stripes can and should unite to fight against religious extremism in all the monotheistic religions. The only way to convince the extremists that their confrontational approach to the “other” is not necessary; that the threat mentality of those who think only about their own survival and are obsessed with catastrophe and conspiracy can backfire; and that only those can truly prosper over the long run who can transcend their own self-centered interests in order to develop an opportunity mentality together with those who are no longer merely the “other” but now are a single pluralist community.


              Post to del.icio.us


Filed in: 'Honour'-based violence,Terrorism,The BNP






46 Comments below   |  

Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Topics about Religion » From Julie Burchill to Christian Evangelism to the BNP

    [...] teliuh placed an observative post today on From Julie Burchill to Christian Evangelism to the BNPHere’s a quick excerptJulie Burchill attests to “trying hard to be a Christian” and she’s loving it. “I believe, literally, in the God of the Old Testament, whom I understa … [...]




  1. Leon — on 23rd February, 2009 at 11:28 am  

    I’m a Christian Zionist, as well as a Christian feminist and a Christian socialist.

    Really don’t know where to begin with that…

  2. Cyburn — on 23rd February, 2009 at 11:33 am  

    have people noticed on the comments section in the Daily Mail, every time there’s a story/article about the BNP, the comments which are sympathetic to the BNP getting rated positively.

    heres an example:
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1152431/MELANIE-PHILLIPS-The-odious-BNP-gaining-ground-voters-feel-utterly-betrayed.html

  3. soru — on 23rd February, 2009 at 12:02 pm  

    Interesting stuff, at least when it stopped talking about JB.

    Religiously-inspired hatred isn’t like Coltan, some rare and strategic resource only found in one or two locations. It’s more like wood – you can grow it pretty much anywhere you want.

    That means terrorism, like many weapons, can only successfully be used by the strong. If a minority group ever refines it to the point it did prove more effective than the alternatives, pretty much everyone else has access to all the resources necessary to copy and improve on it.

  4. Unitalian — on 23rd February, 2009 at 1:07 pm  

    Unitarians ARE, however, one of the few peaceful religions. The Islington congregation I belong to includes people with Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist and Atheist beliefs/ backgrounds. You’re a north Londoner Sid – why not check it out…? ;-)

    http://www.new-unity.org/

  5. aji — on 23rd February, 2009 at 1:24 pm  

    The sad fact is that people all over the world tend to give importance to race, irrespective of religion. European Christians have always considered themselves superior to non-white Christians. The whole of South America converted to Christianity, but it didn’t stop the Spanish and Portuguese from exploiting them. The Americans had slaves, all of whom were converted to Christianity. Even in India, upper caste Christians don’t get on particularly well with the lower caste Christians.

    Christian minorities in the Middle East, Asia and in some parts of Africa (e.g. Sudan) do face a lot of discrimination or outright persecution. I’ve met a few Iraqi Christians myself, and the suffering their community has had to endure in recent times has been terrible. Do the Europeans care? No, because the Middle East is considered largely Arab (Muslim) territory.

  6. Kismet Hardy — on 23rd February, 2009 at 1:49 pm  

    As I stepped out into the quaint but oh so human corner of the gloriously old-fashioned and oh so real Taunton council estate, I was overcome by the beautious sounds and sights of the oh so sincere working class getting on with their lives in the same way my sweet, gentle, misunderstood Jade Goody gets on with hers. I instantly felt a rush of belonging, these are my people, I am theirs, and the experience of having my Prada handbag snatched from me by a gentle thief was a touching one that the robbing upper class bankers milking off the poor and beautiful will never understand. I took it for you, my sweeet, gentle Kerry Katona, I took it up the arse in an alleyway by a gang of gentle, real hoodies for you

  7. Katy Newton — on 23rd February, 2009 at 2:02 pm  

    “If there’s one monotheism that stands out from the three, it’s not Islam for being violent: it’s Christianity for being non-violent.”

    *howls of derisive laughter*

  8. Ravi Naik — on 23rd February, 2009 at 2:47 pm  

    And wherefore the Christian roots of the Nazi Holocaust?

    I liked your article, Sid. Except the above sentence… the root of the holocaust lies on ideas that came in the 19th century, where Jews were classified as a separate and parasitic race, and the Germans as the master race. Christianity – both protestant and catholic – were more concerned about religion and converting Jews and non-Christians to Christianity, not race.

  9. aji — on 23rd February, 2009 at 3:28 pm  

    I think Islam is the only religion in which one identifies with his religious community (Ummah) first, then only his nationality. So a Muslim in Pakistan, India or Sudan identifies with the suffering of Palestinians, even though they are ethnically quite different. This is not the case with Christians; he only really identifies with his own local community.

  10. Don — on 23rd February, 2009 at 3:30 pm  

    Ravi,

    Have you read Luther on the jews?

  11. Unitalian — on 23rd February, 2009 at 3:31 pm  

    Ravi, I don’t think that’s correct – look at how the Jews were persecuted (and expelled) from both England and Spain in the Middle Ages. Venice built the first Jewish ghetto (not much effort at conversion there). Furthermore the philosopher John Gray argues that Nazism, Communism and even Islamism (2 out of 3 anti-semitic if we leave out Stalin) are simply secular extentions of Christian utopianism – the idea that we can “build heaven here on earth”.

    Even if you reject this, Nazism grew out of a Christian civilisation, as did the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the creation of the Czarist police (it is interesting to note how Islamists have also picked up on the “products” of European anti-semitism) who used it to promulgate the pogroms that brought Michael Howard’s family to these shores, for example. I’m sorry, but anti-semitism is hard-wired in to Christian civilisation – didn’t “they” kill their Lord, after all? – if not the teachings of Christ.

  12. sonia — on 23rd February, 2009 at 3:33 pm  

    i didn’t know irshad manji was an ‘apostate’ but julie burchill says she is..

    thing is anyway – the way i see it, this whole business of ‘smug self-satisfied certainty’ is silly..as a-theism in itself doesn’t have anything to do with certainty anyway. or have to be compared to agnosticism in some way. its simply about not subscribing to theistic beliefs. and if you aren’t doing that, you’re not playing the “game”, which then involves the certainty question.

    and for me, i don’t know much about physics, quantum mechanics or any of that stuff, so really so i hardly see where the ‘knowledge’ and certainty questions even apply to me. why the fuck should i think i know? no one asks me for my “opinion on knowledge” on quantum mechanics. ludicrous to think that it matters what I think anyway! why should i have to proclaim a stance on something that no one as far as i can see – can clearly say what ‘it’ is. and if you can’t tell me what ‘it’ is you can’t ask me if i believe in ‘it’. that’s how i see all of it really.

    if you don’t subscribe to a prevailing theory then people may well ask you for your reasons why not. and that’s an interesting fact – that people even see the need to ask! but ask they will – especially if they’re people who you grew up with/or are from that prevailing theory background.

    and you may well want to challenge the prevailing theory’s social record – why the hell not? anyone with a moral/ethical framework might well choose to – i always find it ironic when religious people want to know why someone might want to challenge what they consider ‘wrong-doing’ – isn’t that the whole bloody excuse religion was based on? the spread of morality..

    and julie burchill isn’t looking very far – or understands social change in a very limited way – looking at traditional charities. actually the fact that are so many traditional charity-missionary style ‘do-gooders’ in the charity sector is one of its big flaws, in my opinion. help others to help themselves, not just to make yourselves feel better!

  13. Unitalian — on 23rd February, 2009 at 3:38 pm  

    “I think Islam is the only religion in which one identifies with his religious community (Ummah) first, then only his nationality.”

    Christianity separates the secular realm from the divine, Islam does not: this is a key difference. You are probably correct that a Muslim MAY place their faith before their nationality – strictly speaking for a Christian they are two quite different things. That does not mean, however, that a Christian may not view themselves in commonality with Christians in other countries. Or a Muslim may put nation first – Arab Nationalism, for example.

  14. sonia — on 23rd February, 2009 at 3:40 pm  

    “Secularists, liberals and religious moderates of all stripes can and should unite to fight against religious extremism in all the monotheistic religions”

    WELL said.

  15. sonia — on 23rd February, 2009 at 3:54 pm  

    “I think Islam is the only religion in which one identifies with his religious community (Ummah) first, then only his nationality.”

    rubbish. or very amusing that you think so. in theory perhaps, and for some people. and those people usually get a nasty shock when they turn up in the middle east and expect to be greeted with cries of ‘oh my long lost brother’. ..alas

  16. Jai — on 23rd February, 2009 at 4:20 pm  

    Well, it looks like I missed the big fight on the now-closed thread involving Sid, Blah & Ashik during the weekend. Sorry for not being able to intervene on your behalf like a couple of other commenters did, Sid; I was out & about and didn’t have access to the internet, otherwise I would have joined in the punch-up.

    **************************

    “If there’s one monotheism that stands out from the three, it’s not Islam for being violent: it’s Christianity for being non-violent.”

    I think this applies more to New Testament Christianity involving Christ and his teachings, rather than the Old Testament. The latter has a bit more in common with some interpretations of Islam than some may presume.

    “I think Islam is the only religion in which one identifies with his religious community (Ummah) first, then only his nationality.”

    Not exactly. Sikhs are generally supposed to identify with fellow Sikhs first, although they’re also supposed to simultaneously identify with the rest of humanity (sometimes even more so, depending on the specific circumstance).

  17. Ravi Naik — on 23rd February, 2009 at 4:21 pm  

    Ravi, I don’t think that’s correct – look at how the Jews were persecuted (and expelled) from both England and Spain in the Middle Ages

    I believe we need to distinguish between two anti-Semitic movements in Europe – the first is a religious one. The Vatican to consolidate power and influence, decided that people living in Europe had to be Catholics or be killed. Hence, Jews – like every other individual – had the choice to affirm their allegiance to the Pope and its teachings, or were sentenced to die by the Inquisitors. Furthermore, even the reformists believed that Christianity was the only path to be saved, and those who did not believe in Christ were sided with the devil. Martin Luther is an example of this – and he wanted to reform Jews, by converting them to Christianity.

    The second type of anti-semitism started in the 19th century when ideas about white supremacy, in particular the germanic one, started to flow around. I am not denying that there isn’t a link between both types of anti-semitism – but considering Jews as a race meant that whatever bad elements were associated to Judaism, they were innate and therefore could never be reformed. So, if before the Jews lied because of their religion, now it was because it was their nature. The final solution is a direct consequence of this mindset.

    Even if you reject this, Nazism grew out of a Christian civilisation, as did the Protocols of the Elders of Zion

    So did Communism and Darwinism.

  18. Ravi Naik — on 23rd February, 2009 at 5:02 pm  

    Identity Christians are the most virulent white racist organisation that I have known.

    -> They believe Adam and Eve are the true aryans, and Abel (one of the sons) is the common ancestors of all true aryans living in this world.

    -> Cain (the other brother), is the result of the devil seducing Eve. He is the ancestor of all Jews (!!!).

    Hence, for these people, the Earth is a battlefield, where there is an eternal conflict between good and evil, aryans and jews.

    And you may ask, what about non-white races, such as Indians, Chinese and blacks? They were created by God along with other animals before Adam and Eve. They are soulless creatures.

    I do not think that there is any danger that the BNP will be influenced by Identity Christians – but certainly it will attract the most lunatic ones. Also, let’s not forget that hardcore neo-nazis and skinheads do not like Christianity, which they see it as a Semitic religion which promotes miscegenation.

    Some time ago, I used to spend my time in chat rooms talking with a number of white power groups. And managed to chat with a number of famous white supremacists in the US – including Don Black (stormfront founder), the widow and daughter of David Lane, the klan couple that appeared in Jerry Springer, and others. It was an eye-opener to how diverse and fractured the white power movement is, as well as similarities to other fundamentalists, like the Islamists and wingnut hindus.

  19. Rumbold — on 23rd February, 2009 at 5:14 pm  

    Saying that X or Y had a big influence on the Nazis’ philosophy and behaviour is always a bit dangerous. Yes, the attitude to Jews derived from hundreds of years of negative stereotypes about Jews in the Christian world (unclean, scheming, moneylenders, anti-Christian etc.), but it seems a bit unfair ((not to mention simplistic) to say Christianity caused Nazis to regard Jews in that way.

    On the political side, the Nazis labelled themselves as National Socialists and drew sections of their philosophy from socialism (especially about the power of the state over the individaul), but no serious historian would argue that the Nazis were simply socialists.

  20. Don — on 23rd February, 2009 at 6:06 pm  

    Rumbold,

    Without those centuries of negative stereotypes, how could the Nazis have presented Jews as the root problem?

    They ploughed the field, sowed the seeds and irrigated assiduously, but it is unfair to hold them to account for the harvest?

  21. Jai — on 23rd February, 2009 at 6:28 pm  

    but it seems a bit unfair ((not to mention simplistic) to say Christianity caused Nazis to regard Jews in that way.

    Following on from Don’s comment in #20 above (which I agree with), I think that the cultural environment towards Jews that derived from the way ‘Christianity’ was practiced in this part of the world — as opposed to ‘Christianity’ in the sense of the actual teachings of Christ — certainly provided a convenient scapegoat for the Nazis, which was more readily taken on-board by their followers and sympathetic German civilians than it would have been under different conditions.

    Whether the bigotted person concerned was already prejudiced towards Jews (either enough to want them killed or, alternatively, to not care enough if anyone else ‘pulled the trigger’) as a result of their culturally-influenced ‘Christian’ viewpoint is a bit of a chicken-and-egg scenario and would obviously depend on the specific individual.

  22. aji — on 23rd February, 2009 at 6:55 pm  

    Identity Christians are the most virulent white racist organisation that I have known.

    I don’t know about Identity Christians, but most Christians regard Israel/Palestine as their Holy Land. That’s why today Christian fundamentalists in the US are some of the strongest supporters of Israel today. Wind the clock back a hundred years and their type were probably the most anti-semitic group. Now Islamists could qualify as being the most anti-Semitic – a different time, a different set of circumstances and different attitudes. Religions and their followers don’t stay static over time.

    Outside Europe, Christians haven’t generally been very anti-Semitic. Some of the earliest Christians in India were converts from the Jewish diaspora there after St Thomas arrived to spread the word, and both Christians and Jews got on quite amicably. Then Israel was born and they left en masse.

    I think Ravi is right in #17 about the root causes of Nazism. German philosophers in the 19th century were exploring German history and finding a common spirit to unite the German people. They believed that with a sense of nationalism, Germany was destined to become a major power of the world. The rest is history.

  23. Don — on 23rd February, 2009 at 7:36 pm  

    aji,

    Don’t forget may evangelicals support Israel not from any sympathy for jewish people but because the existence of Israel is a necessary condition for the eagerly awaited End Times. After which, jews have served their purpose.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQxuuCt_cLQ

    I agree that Ravi is right about the 19th century roots of nationalism, but the rabid anti-semitism was already deeply embedded and didn’t take much to erupt.

    Meanwhile, I’m about to start my second volunteer job, and I shall doubtless also continue to give away money like a sailor on shore leave.

    I think Julie skipped a couple of chapters in her bible, like the part about not boasting about one’s piety and good works.

  24. KB Player — on 23rd February, 2009 at 9:39 pm  

    it must be a faith that encourages one to transcend the self rather than dwell even deeper on it

    I don’t find that very likely in JB, that she will “transcend the self” if the self in question is her self.

  25. Sunny — on 23rd February, 2009 at 9:44 pm  

    This is not the case with Christians; he only really identifies with his own local community.

    Really? Why is the Vatican still so popular then?

    Besides, there’s plenty of British Muslim say they should pay more attention to the issues here than in Palestine.

    But people like to remain ignorant for their own prejudices…

  26. comrade — on 23rd February, 2009 at 10:12 pm  

    Sonia

    Secularists, liberals and religious moderates of all stripes can and should unite to fight against religious extremism in all the monotheistic religions”

    WELL said.

    Can the socialist join?

  27. Refresh — on 23rd February, 2009 at 10:25 pm  

    Sonia

    I am sorry – you are being a touch tribalist. I am sure you should have said:

    ‘People of goodwill should unite to fight against extremism and intolerance in all its forms’

    I think that fits better with what I think you tried to articulate upthread. Atheism and secularism is not above a bit of intolerance and the odd massacre.

    Perhaps we should refine that further:

    ‘People of good sense should always recognise the power of the group and the fallibility of leadership. Beware the cult!’.

    No mispelling in the last para. Really.

  28. Amrit — on 24th February, 2009 at 1:43 am  

    I honestly believe that if JB was allowed to cover herself in lots of sticky labels (each with a word on) and run screaming through the country, only then might we see the back of her. Until then, she’ll continue to perform the equivalent action in print, esp. whenever the bills start to bite…

    I wish she would though. I’d love to stick ‘Deluded droning bore’ on her back.

  29. Roger — on 24th February, 2009 at 6:10 am  

    “if you consider that Dawkins approves of Patrick Sookhdheo’s tendentious views on Islam in spite of being an evangelical fundamentalist Christian in The God Delusion, you can forgive Burchill for being confused.”
    Are you sure Dawkins is an evangelical fundamentalist Christian?
    In fact most religious people are more accurate when they tell unpleasant truths about other religions than when they tell pleasant untruths about their own.
    The connexion between christian antismitism and nazism is complicated; I’d say that christianity created the ground for nazi antisemitism but the justification changed. When religion became less important race was used- to some degree invented even- as a category and jews were changed into a race rather than a religion. The prejudice came beflre the “reason” whereas there was [is?] a justifiable argument for antusemitism according to christianity. Luther’s antisemitism took an aberrant form in the sixteenth century, even by contemporary christian standards because he seems to have regarded the jews as irredeemably evil by nature.

  30. Rumbold — on 24th February, 2009 at 9:34 am  

    Don:

    I take your point, but I think that Jai in #21 said what I would say. I suppose the best modern comparison we would have is blaming Islam for terrorists. Yes, there are links in the terrorists’ minds, and a very dodgy intepretation of scripture and history, but that is about all.

  31. Sid — on 24th February, 2009 at 10:16 am  

    Roger: Are you sure Dawkins is an evangelical fundamentalist Christian?

    No, I think the misunderstaning above is because of poor phrasing on my part. I should have said:

    “However, if you consider how Dawkins approves of Patrick Sookhdeo’s tendentious views on Islam in The God Delusion, in spite of Sookhdeo being an evangelical fundamentalist Christian, you can forgive Burchill’s confusion.”

    In fact most religious people are more accurate when they tell unpleasant truths about other religions than when they tell pleasant untruths about their own.

    I don’t agree. I think religious commentary is rather like translation; they work best when the translator translates to what they consider as their primary language. Commentary and critique of religions are best done by objective actors, usually of the religion they critique.

    And this is nothing to do with the fact that Sookhdeo’s spiritual trajectory has taken him from Muslim to Christian convert to Christian Evangelist to religious supremacist. For Dawkins to champion Sookhdeo’s religious bigotry on the grounds that his criticism of Islam chimes with Dawkin’s view of Islam compromises Dawkins’ thesis not to mention his so-called objectivity.

  32. Chris E — on 24th February, 2009 at 10:55 am  

    Sookhdeo’s spiritual trajectory has taken him from Muslim to Christian convert to Christian Evangelist to religious supremacist

    No, but it’s s probably not unrelated to the fact that some years ago (predating the Barnabas Fund), he had to move away from London as he was the recipient of death threats for allegedly encouraging ‘apostasy’.

    It was in the local papers at the time.

  33. Shamit — on 24th February, 2009 at 11:06 am  

    Sid – Excellent post as always.

    The vast majority of people on this planet would agree with what Sid has suggested yet their voices are never heard. A minority group of people across religious and national boundaries have hijacked the headlines which in turn add fuel to extremists across the divide. And news cycle after news cycle are dedicated to their attrocities and hateful language and spirit.

    While Saudi Arabia’s very interesting approach to dealing with inmates coming back from Guantanamo and those who have been captured on lesser terrorism charges gets max of one or two programmes in a quarter if they are lucky. Now, if one of those who have been going through this rehabilitation programme goes and gets involved with extremists again and does something, then I am sure it would get headlines after headlines as well as pundits across the globe would be talking about it.

    In a world where there is more collaboration between people of all faiths, races, nationalities than ever before — we seem to continue to focus our energies on those that are actually the exception. Never before in the history of human civilization has the world worked so closely to bring people out of poverty and provide them with healtcare, education and opportunities as well as fostering community cohesion. There are millions of success stories across the globe but unless you work in the area you never hear about it.

    For example, empowerment of women have brought about drastic improvements in quality of life of communities and there are diverse examples from villages in Bangladesh to villages in Uganda. Faith based initiatives that are actually working successfully at the grassroot levels never ever make it to the mainstream media. Even if it does, its one story and usually never sees any airtime.

    Its not that we should not highlight what the idiots are saying and guard against that but we should also invest in showing the world what we are achieving. One of the reasons the economic crisis is simply looking unsolvable because it would be unrealistic to expect any consumer to have any confidence when all he sees all day is that political leaders, bankers and pundits — day in day out are just talking about -how bad the economy is and will be.

    The news and its associated content products are disseminated in such a way that the voice of moderation and what people are achieving by working together are completely squeezed out. That needs to change and change fast before the mainstream media loses its credibility completely.

  34. Jai — on 24th February, 2009 at 1:21 pm  

    Rumbold & Don,

    I suppose the best modern comparison we would have is blaming Islam for terrorists.

    I think that’s exactly the right comparison. Taking this further, the main issue isn’t Christianity, Islam, or any other religion and/or ideology per se, but people’s interpretation of them and how they choose to put their interpretations into practice. They are, after all, essentially ‘inanimate objects’, and one wouldn’t necessarily ‘blame Nazism’ above laying the fault at the feet of Hitler and his cronies first and foremost.

    These concepts aren’t sentient beings; the only power they have over the people who follow them is the extent to which the individuals concerned subordinate themselves to the ideas and ‘teachings’ involved.

    The crimes of the Crusades were definitely derived from the interpretation of Christianity which was practiced and propagated by many people concerned at the time, especially the religious and political/military figures who were in a position to pull the strings; the same applies to some of the Victorian notions of evangelism which were a partial driver in British imperialism and the nasty notions of race which developed during that period.

    And the same applies to present-day fanatics who derive their worldview and justification for their actions from their interpretation of Islam, whether we’re talking about Bin Laden or Anjem Choudary. In the case of the latter, for example, the matter is complicated even further by the fact that — as he recently stated in a certain BBC debate programme — he is voluntarily completely subordinating his critical faculties to whatever he believes his religious ideology to say on any given topic, irrespective of whatever his own views might be if he thought about the matter independently, honestly and objectively. In that case, again, the primary fault and blame lies with him (and anyone with a similar mindset), for ‘switching off’ his own independent critical thinking and blindly enslaving himself to ideas that, under different circumstances, he might not even necessarily agree with.

    In all these situations, it’s the people who are to blame. You can’t ‘argue with an ideology’, and neither can you put it on trial in a court of law, or imprison it, or kill it, although you can of course deconstruct & discredit it.

  35. aji — on 24th February, 2009 at 1:39 pm  

    The crimes of the Crusades were definitely derived from the interpretation of Christianity which was practiced and propagated by many people concerned at the time…

    You’re just seeing one side of the story. The Crusades were largely in response to rapid Islamic expansionism that spanned all the way from the Indian subcontinent to Spain. Some would say it was a long delayed course of action after the Arab conquest. It was nothing to do with a particular ‘worldview’ or Christian militancy. It was a case of trying to win back land, which ultimately failed, but Christians are blamed for the sins of the Crusades centuries after they happened.

  36. Jai — on 24th February, 2009 at 2:21 pm  

    I was referring to some of the atrocities which occurred during the Crusades, along with the motivations of numeous combatants involved and the instructions of the religious leaders at the time, all of which frequently had very little indeed to do with the teachings of Christ himself, despite the wars supposedly propagated in his name.

    Whether the Crusades themselves were justified or not isn’t an argument I have any desire to get involved in (especially, in this instance, as someone who is neither Christian nor Muslim).

    My point was that people can sometimes find material within their respective interpretations of their religions which will cause them to think/act in certain ways, and other times they already have certain attitudes & motivations so alleged support within their religious framework will give them the excuse they’re looking for.

  37. Ravi Naik — on 24th February, 2009 at 2:46 pm  

    Taking this further, the main issue isn’t Christianity, Islam, or any other religion and/or ideology per se, but people’s interpretation of them and how they choose to put their interpretations into practice….and one wouldn’t necessarily ‘blame Nazism’ above laying the fault at the feet of Hitler and his cronies first and foremost.

    I think Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and other major religions, as well as philosophies, are only frameworks – not ideologies per se. The interpretation – as you put it – is the ideology, which can be taught and put in practice. Which is why it is rather superficial to blame Christianity or Islam for the ideologies that stem from them.

    I mean, just think how difficult it is to make a general comment about Christianity, when it derived a rabidly racist church like Identity Christ, and a far liberal one – Anglican Church.

    Also, on the topic of the Christianity, anti-Semitism and the Holocaust, let me remind two things:

    1) The nazis had a massive propaganda machine against Jewish people in a climate of deep economic crisis (scapegoating a minority), and then established a totalitarian regime – they could have murdered any group regardless of how the Germans felt against them. In fact, they murdered people with disabilities and people on the Left with the same impunity.

    2) As I mentioned above, there were two kinds of anti-Semitism in Europe. One was purely based on religion (Jewish as the religion which led to the killing of Jesus), and the other more dangerous that came about viewing Jewish people as a separate and mischievous race – was secular and came about in the 17th to 18th century. What happened in this period?

    Enlightenment.

    For as much as it brought Europe to the age of reason, science and technology and the end of the Church’s power, it also brought anti-semitism and racial theories to a new level. Voltaire, Arthur de Gobineau, the protocols of the Zion Elders, Karl Marx belong to this new world.

    But we would never blame Enlightenment for the Holocaust, would we?

  38. Rumbold — on 24th February, 2009 at 5:21 pm  

    Jai:

    You are absolutely right. Concepts are just that. It takes humans to put them into practice.

  39. Don — on 24th February, 2009 at 7:31 pm  

    Jai, Ravi, aji, Rumbold,

    All very good and salient points. I would argue that the anti-semitism of the modern period which presented ‘the Jew’ as the rootless cosmopolitan outsider weakening the homogoneous state, the canker in the bud, was a continuation of the earlier religious hostility which reached it’s venemous peak with Luther and German Lutheranism. It may well have been different in it’s twisted rationale, but it could not have existed without that established hostility and de-humanising of Jews by both the Catholic and Lutheran faiths over preceding centuries.

    I take Ravi’s point that the disabled, the left and other perceived sub-humans were also victims of that period. But the butchering of political opponents is a universal fact of human history, and the ‘elimination’ of the weak goes back to at least classical times. It was, IMO, only because the German people had accepted the destruction of the Jews that the Nazis could expand that programme to take in every other category of ‘undesirable’.

    As for the second type of anti-semitism being ‘more dangerous’, isn’t that largely about available technology? Had the pogroms of earlier times had access to modern technology we would have seen the same horrors.

    But I am not convinced that a religion or a belief system is a mere ‘framework’ which cannot be held responsible for the odious ideologies which derive from it. If that is the case then neither can it claim credit for any beneficial effects which may accrue. A religion or belief which is, of itself, morally neutral is meaningless.

    … people can sometimes find material within their respective interpretations of their religions which will cause them to think/act in certain ways, and other times they already have certain attitudes & motivations so alleged support within their religious framework will give them the excuse they’re looking for.

    I suspect that the latter is far more prevelant.

    As for the Crusades, it has been many years since I studied the Crusades and no doubt scholarship has moved on, but in my day one of the accepted theories was that, in the case of the First Crusade at least, part of the motivation was to have a large part of a surplus and troublesome population elsewhere, making trouble for the enemy. The disorganised rabble which was the First Crusade was not expected to actually do much of anything except die and do some damage to the east in the process.

  40. Ravi Naik — on 24th February, 2009 at 9:10 pm  

    But I am not convinced that a religion or a belief system is a mere ‘framework’ which cannot be held responsible for the odious ideologies which derive from it. If that is the case then neither can it claim credit for any beneficial effects which may accrue.

    Actually, that’s my conclusion, Don. Christianity, Islam and so on are mere frameworks, and indeed you cannot claim benefit for good actions, or responsibility for odious actions.

    In my view, morality is associated with the interpretation of your religion, which is largely based on the values and morality of the society you grow up in. Christianity in Kansas is no doubt different from Christianity in San Francisco.

    Which explains why the morality of a moderate Muslim in the UK is different from the morality of an Al Qaeda member in SA, or why you and I share the same morality and values despite the fact that I am a theist and you are an atheist…

    It was, IMO, only because the German people had accepted the destruction of the Jews that the Nazis could expand that programme to take in every other category of ‘undesirable’.

    I am less cynical than you – even though I accept that the Germans were anti-semitic and knew that the Jews were being rounded up and put in concentration camps (as the Americans did with the Japanese), I find quite a leap to say that the Germans were ok with the physical destruction of women, children and old people, as well as the killing of disabled Germans.

  41. Don — on 24th February, 2009 at 10:52 pm  

    (as the Americans did with the Japanese),

    No, that was a disgraceful disregard for human rights. It is not comparable. The various extermination actions of the Nazi regime were carried out by every level of bureaucracy and infra-structure. Too many tens of thousands personally involved to pretend ignorance at large. I don’t think I’m being cynical – they knew. Self-delusion is no excuse.

  42. Dez — on 25th February, 2009 at 5:36 pm  

    Really great smear headline, connecting Burchill ant the BNP

    You could get a job with the worse of the gutter press with a headline like that.

    You must feel very big Sid

  43. Dez — on 25th February, 2009 at 5:37 pm  

    P.S Sid, I could be bothered to read the article, because having read the headline, I think your an arse

    You are the weakest link, goodbye

  44. Sid — on 25th February, 2009 at 5:55 pm  

    I am impressed by your powers of textual criticism.

  45. Dez — on 25th February, 2009 at 5:59 pm  

    almost as impressed as i am at your gutter headlines, eh big Sid

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Pickled Politics © Copyright 2005 - 2010. All rights reserved. Terms and conditions.
With the help of PHP and Wordpress.