Human mortality has led to the creation (I would also label this invention) of religion on all continents. Sadly, a grotesque trail of religion-inspired violence smears human history. Everywhere, adherents to various religious doctrines spout similar ideas of mercy, righteousness and so forth, and practice unspeakably violent acts with disturbing frequency. Virtually no religious doctrine is free from this deeply deluded and inherently contradictory practice of its particular belief system.
However, it is probably true to say, looking at the historic record, that the more faith-based, messianic and absolutist a religious doctrine, the greater its propensity for committing unimaginable acts of violence and barbarity. Many around the world see the so-called Abrahamic religions in this light. It is certainly true that the three faiths commonly identified within this line have committed, and continue to commit, seemingly endless acts of hatred and mutual destruction. To me, this is one of mankind’s most ignominious achievements.
When Barack Obama (BO) became the first person of color to ascend to the office of the U.S. Presidency, beating hitherto unimaginable odds, many had rightly predicted a great upsurge in racist and bigoted backlash to this intolerable event (in the eyes of intolerant hatemongers that usually put on the cloak of religion as a common trait around the world).
Well- even as the new administration has gone past its first 100 days, and even as progressives and liberals such as myself have witnessed with the deepest disappointment its many acts of status quo vis-a-vis the crimes and atrocities of the previous regime, and even furtherance thereof (additional troop deployments in Afghanistan, a country reeling from an American killing spree for more than a decade now; rejection of any notion of bringing to justice the rogue insiders of the previous regime involved in illegal wars, genocide, torture and war crimes; continuing financial bailouts of corrupt Wall Street moguls; dragging their feet about single payer or universal healthcare; and on and on)- we have already seen the fruition of those predictions on a fairly massive scale.
First, there was the de facto anointment of the icon of hate radio, Rush Limbaugh, as the leader of the Republican party. The spectacle of various leading figures of that political entity groveling before this classic and vicious hatemonger (beginning with Michael Steele, the trophy Chairman of the RNC) in order not to draw the irritation of this pontificating drug-addict, has been truly revealing of its ideology-driven, reality-deprived condition.
It is truly amazing that the Republican party’s political counterpart, even after having been handed sizable majorities in both houses of the legislature by the largely soporific (but also desperately helpless in the face of draconian corporate control of all affairs of state) voters of this iron-fisted duopoly- seems so pathetically reluctant to enact any corrective measures that the Constitution and rule of law would in fact demand. After eight nightmarish years of absolute lawlessness, the entire world would expect some tangible evidence of this country at least attempting to restore a semblance of legal accountability for the grievous crimes of the previous regime.
Then, more recently, there is the almost comical reaction displayed by a number of new-fangled right-wing secularists and pluralists to the nomination of a Latina candidate for the office of Supreme Court Justice. She will display gender and race bias- they protest. In reality, they worry about the inevitable weakening of white, anglo-saxon control of much of the world and its riches for the past 600 or more years.
Yet, the Nancy Pelosis and the Harry Reids, the Eric Holders and the Leon Panettas- all continue to turn the wheels of the bloody and, literally, oil-soaked mill of Washington corruption and thievery. These are all complicit in the creation of a criminal polity that has virtually paralyzed social justice and welfare in this country, and, worse, has spread a form of free-for-all criminality as acceptable practice around the world.
Yet, BO continues to utter empty platitudes to laughably inane ideas of looking past, reaching out, finding common ground, and so on. What if all major criminals (murderers and swindlers) were given such leeway? But then, in most scenarios, it is the relatively smaller criminals that carry the burden of society’s wrath. Here is a country in tatters, with no moral rudder, with vanishing credibility before the world- and its supposed leaders talk about what is done is done. In other words- big-time crimes do pay, and pay rather handsomely. How else is it possible for a heartless liar and genocidal criminal such as Dick Cheney to still take to the airwaves and continue the propaganda of hatred and bigotry?
The serious consequence of BO’s message of looking past, or turning a blind eye to the corporate and political crime wave was prophetically predicted by some after his soft, reconciliatory speech at Notre Dame, which did not spell out clearly the dangers of religious intolerance, or the repression of women’s rights and human rights. Soft pedaling such matters only emboldens the religious and pseudo-religious lunacy inherent in absolutist, black-and-white views. It encourages the Talibanization (I am not sure I entirely agree with the implication of this terminology, as grossly applied by the right-wing in the West to foster cultural hatred) of indoctrinated communities- Christian, Islamic, Jewish or others.
Not clearly defining the secular and democratic goals of a society has, in a sense, just led to the deeply tragic murder of a caring and courageous human being in Kansas. It is a testament to Dr. Tiller's amazing courage and determination that he continued his work in a frightfully terror-inciting environment, even after having been shot in both arms in 1993. The right-wing cheerleaders of the preamble to this latest heinous act, the O-Reillys, Hannitys, Coulters, and, most revoltingly, the Terrys- or their only slightly saner counterparts, often describe such vicious post-natal murders and murderers as “fringe” events and elements. However, it is eminently clear to me how readily and willingly these very individuals cheerlead mass-killing around the world, including ruthless bombing of innocent human beings (in many cases including the grisly killing of thousands of little children through outright butchery, through the denial of medical care, as was justified by Madeline Albright in the case of half-a-million Iraqi babies, or through the destruction of their environment). This heart-chilling disconnect between these God-peddlers and their capacity for criminal violence is evidence, to me, of the wretchedly incomplete nature of human evolution.
The Christo-Talibans and jihadists have literally come out of the woodworks in this country, encouraged in no small part by the 5-person coterie in the Supreme Court that installed the most arrogant and lawless government any country could ever dread in 2000. The results of that criminal act, spearheaded by the likes of Justices Scalia and Thomas, have been destructive beyond imagination for the world. Yet these diabolical figures stomp around in robes of justice, and the criminals of the Bushco regime receive appointments in prestigious universities and newspapers. George Orwell or Shakespeare could scarce imagine a more surreal world.
If human civilization can survive its terrible demons and evolve into an integrated greatness, then I am certain that the courage and sacrifice of caring individuals such as Drs. Barnett Slepian and George Tiller will be remembered with gratitude by posterity. These evolved beings understood that life sometimes offers excruciatingly difficult choices to people, and that kind and gentle people sometimes have to make such difficult choices. Evolved beings such as these do not view the world through deluded absolutist lenses. Evolved beings, such as the Buddha and Christ, eventually develop great empathy for, and even resonance with the great and puzzling diversity the fleeting and fascinating phenomenon called life is all about. Obviously, even Ivy League degrees in many instances are fairly useless in elevating un-evolved beings from bigotry and ignorance.