Wednesday, April 24, 2013

April 23: Let's look in a mirror.....

...because there's nothing much in today's Times and Tribune. Mostly, it's trivia, village chatter and smiling people holding up giant cheques for worthy causes. The editorial is about (Surprise!) how shale gas is good for you.

On the op ed page, Alec Bruce contributes a thoughtful article about what is happening to the environment movement and why, even as its numbers grow, its impact is diminishing. On the op ed page, Brian Cormier has a column that is really my starting point for this blog.

He writes about the horror of the Boston bombing, and the impossibility of understanding how a person could be so deranged as to do something like that.

The answer is they do it because they are people.  But we don't recognize that we are people - very much like those bombers. And so we look at the bombers, and we see deranged animals. But we look in a mirror, and.....well, Brian Cormier doesn't see a deranged monster in the mirror - and neither do we.

Part of the problem is the sloppy by emotional way we use words. Recently, the New York Times carried a headline saying the Boston bombers were Islamist extremists. Okay.

Within memory, Britain and the US invaded Moslem Iraq, saying that Iraq was a threat because it had weapons of mass destruction. We know now that no such weapons were there. We also know that Blair and Bush knew that no weapons were there. They lied. There's no question about it.

As a result over a million moslems (yes, including children, the elderly, you name it) were killed. Nobody knows how many were crippled. There are, today, over a million orphans in Iraq, a country that cannot even supply electricity, whose whole infrastructure lies in ruins, and whose major reconstruction has been the building of the biggest, most heavily fortified US embassy in the world. So what is left to help those orphans? Nothing.

And Blair and Bush? Both are now extremely wealthy. (Bush can get more money for one speech than the average Canadian will earn in eight years of full-time work.) Both are devout Christians.

Have you noticed any headlines referring to the horrors inflicted on innocent people, on thousands of times as many innocent people as were killed or injured in Boston? Have you ever caught the term "Chritianist extremists" in there?

For the last 500 years, Christian nations have been the cruelest and most murderous people on earth, building vast empires that enslaved millions and, in the course of the American slave trade alone killing an estimated 60,000,000 people. There was also a slave trade in our native peoples  (with the average native slave in Canada having a life expectancy of about 21.) You didn't read about that in your Canadian history book? No. Probably not.

Christians murdered, tortured and enslaved throughout Africa, Asia, and the Americas. They still do. The US maintained murderous dictatorships throughout Central America that guaranteed American business with a supply of cheap labour without regard to deadly pollution caused by mining and other practices. They still do that, too. That's why the Christians of the CIA and the Guatemalan army murdered a quarter of a million men, women and children. And that's why most of our news media never reported it.

(They also murdered Christian missionaries who, well, who weren't good, Christian extremists like them.)

Over the centuries it has been common for Christian leaders to bless this record of murder and slavery and exploitation on the grounds that all those other religions were  inferior - as were the people who believed in them. Obviously, God intended us Christians to rule. Just read a few of Rudyard Kipling's poems to get the idea. Start with "The White man's burden". To this day, it is common for the elite of societies in Central America to made up of those who are fully of Spanish descent or who have lighter skins as a result of mixed ancestries.

The US controlled Haiti through such people in the days of the dictators. The same is true of Venezuela where the US supports the anti-Chavez groups.

Years ago, my research involved examining the letters of a senior Christian  clergyman in Canada, letters written about 1910. I still remember the exultation in one of them. "Hurrah for our king. Hurrah for our Empire. Hurrah for our brave soldiers who go out to add here and there more lands and people to our Empire."  That would include, of course, those brave soldiers who made it possible for wealthy English to confiscate lands and enslave people in India to grow poppies and process them into opium. Those brave soldiers, Christians to a man, then killed Chinese to force their government to buy the opium and distribute it.

Yes, there are Christian extremists. And extremes of any sort breed extremes on the other side. We all have that terrible tendency to extremism because, contrary to what Rudyard Kipling said, we are all people who share the same failings.

Brian Cormier is struck by the deranged behaviour of a 19 year old who killed a young girl in Boston. And he just can't understand it. As he says in closing, "When I was 19, I was also young and stupid. At least we have that in common."

Well, let's look in the mirror. This time, let's try hard to see all the millions of young girls burned to death by napalm, vaporized in bombings, cut down by drones, blasted by land mines - all of it the work of Christian extremists, people just like most of us.

Brian, you and I and all of us have a lot in common. And having once been young and stupid is the least of it.

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