I regard Christianity, Islam, and Judaism as the three great evils of this world.
The faithful will doubtless disagree, and some might feel anger at that opinion, so angry they wish me dead. Fundamentalist religion has a way of turning people homicidal.
We like to think our politicians are above religious bigotry, not in the least shaped by the faith teachings of their childhood. But a political creed is a religion to some and whether they realise it or not, based on Christian principles. We elect level-headed, experienced people, ready with cool judgment to avoid blind, bigoted retaliation, moral enough not to take tit-for-tat reprisals. That’s not always what happens.
Alas, they’re just as quick to misjudge, just as irrational as the rest of us, ready to impose their religious principles to the full. Look how unionist fundamentalists rain down apoplectic vitriol on Scotland’s democratic ambitions.
Power for power’s sake
When elected our representatives have the constitutional tools to do the job. That makes extremely suspect calls by them for greater powers.
Each new terrorist action is succeeded by more calls for greater powers and democratic constraints. “I’d be happy to have my e-mails checked knowing I was safer,” – heard twice in one evening on BBC Radio – a common remark, invariably from somebody in the ruling class who would not be affected by such an intrusive loss of privacy.
Given additional powers to arrest citizens on suspicion, or attack warring factions outside our borders by proxy, their excuse is always the same – our way of life is ‘threatened’. How it is threatened they cannot tell exactly. It is an ‘existential threat.’
Hysteria rules, okay?
The aftermath of atrocities have an expected ritual. There are eloquent expressions of shock, outpourings of sadness and grief, statements of righteous condemnation, people congregate to show their accord, their respect for the slaughtered. Newspapers and television show endless loops of people laying bunches of flowers, and terrorists at work.
The media and press talk of the worst atrocities ‘in living memory’, a phrase designed to omit all the atrocities we have perpetrated on others in the name of freedom and liberty.
The country’s leader steps up to a battery of microphones to show him or herself not weak or wobbly but remorselessly ruthless in seeking retaliatory justice.
Gandhi said, “An eye for an eye only leaves everybody blind.”
Prepare cauldrons of boiling tar!
Border crossing points are shut down; traveller’s submitted to unwarranted searches; multiculturalism condemned a failure; politicians make racists speeches knowing they could never utter them at other times.
Armed soldiers are put in the streets.
Administrations, their members with interests in security firms, demand greater powers for surveillance than ever. Army generals request more weapons, and carpet bombing sanctioned. The volume of hatred is pushed up to eleven.
That is followed soon after by police asking for more money to protect citizens, and politicians proposing the Internet is shut down at times of emergency, which is to say, anytime they want it blocked. Dictators our politicians support have a good laugh.
Our terrorism versus their terrorism
Terrorist attacks on our soil, the result of attacks on their soil, are to be answered with further attacks on their soil. We never learn from history.
Moreover, no one is clear who ‘they’ are. Our politicians give them dehumanising acronyms. In an atmosphere of hysteria members of the political class advocate nuking every nation whose people wear a tea towel on their heads.
The answer is always – wipe them out. Allies of the west, are spared, of course, including those arming terrorists, as British arm companies do with full government approval.
A depressingly familiar scenario.
Even as police raid ‘safe’ apartments looking for evidence, politicians name names as if certain who the culprits are, yet terrorist attacks on the west tell us the perpetrators are self-appointed, not groomed, not necessarily full-time members of banned insurgent groups. They saw their country pillaged, flattened, and decide more violence the answer.
An example of officially sanctioned genocide
As for the United Kingdom – we, like the USA, are an exceptional ‘state’.
A former US Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, published an eye-opening study in which she lamented the inability of the United Nations to respond properly to atrocities: ‘A Problem from Hell – America in the age of Genocide.’ In one chapter she makes mention of the genocide that took place in East Timor in 1975. Power states in one bald sentence, “The United States looked away.”
The Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in East Timor estimated the number of deaths during the occupation from famine and violence to be between “90,800 and 202,600 including between 17,600 and 19,600 violent deaths or disappearances, out of a 1999 population of approximately 823,386.” The truth commission held Indonesian forces responsible for about 70% of the violent killings.
At the time of the invasion, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, took a decidedly different view. In his book, ‘A Dangerous Place’ he argues with great confidence and arrogant pride how he managed to render the United Nations “utterly ineffectual in whatever measures it tried to take” to end the atrocities. Things turned out well, he says, because “The United States wished things to turn out as they did.”
In short time Washington supplied the Indonesian invaders with all the machine guns, bombs, and helicopters needed to begin their genocidal actions.
I draw on that example, one of many where the West has allowed, encouraged, or actively participated in genocide, to show how conveniently we forget the tens of thousands of deaths we inflict on cultures with a skin darker than ours, and how in high hypocrisy we call on the United Nations to ‘do something’ while simultaneously ensuring it is emasculated if it appears to be interfering with our economic or military interests. I could have chosen Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, or even the sinking of the Belgrano.
I could go back as far as the massacre of Glencoe, also officially sanctioned, a small massacre as things go, but emblematic of our age of genocide.
Do we wonder a number of those people, ostracized, frustrated, demand attention for their grievances, for justice as they see it by embracing the most horrific methods of death they can concoct?
Expect more weapons, more surveillance, more constraints on freedoms, more tension in our daily lives, more chance of disaster, all to ‘keep us safe’. We might as well be living in Baghdad. Both sides, them and us, are engaged in an endless spiral of revenge.
In the end, the only winner is the last person standing.
And what of the innocents?
We weep for ours killed by bomb or bullet. We soon forget the wounded.
Meanwhile, countless refugees flee from the death and destruction in their backyard, running for safety into the arms of nations involved in the bombing. We call mass displacements of people collateral damage.
Below is a photograph of a refugee camp in Jordan, a small nation with no means to close its borders. Some of our taxes are used to subsidise the great cost Jordan has taken on to help cope with the flood of humanity. We pay for our folly as they do.
Thus endeth the lesson. Let us sing, “Onward Christian soldiers.”