Monday, October 13, 2014


 75 years ago we learned to fear and hate the Japs and Germans. I was so young I conflated Germans with germs. When I had a fever I imagined those Nazi germs attacking my body and in recovery I saw them in full retreat, swastikas and all. Five years later they were our new best friends.

Now we are frightened by ISIS. They scare the bejesus out of us and even those who have no bejesus in them to begin with. They raise their terrible swift sword and we loose our fateful lightning from thirty thousand feet. Their killing is loathsome, barbaric and up-close; ours is sanitized, targeted and distant.

Not to say any of these evildoers, then or now, are anything less than abominable. The carnage of the Holocaust and atrocities of the Japanese set new thresholds of bestiality. An Allied response was imperative. Whether fire-bombing Dresden and Tokyo and the nuclear incineration of civilians in Japan was defensible, is now a moot question.

In the case of ISIS the slaughter of Christians, Shiites and Kurds returns us a thousand years to a dark period in human history. We shudder at their ferocity, suppression of woman and disregard for human life. Yet it was the Holy Roman Emperor who turned out the lights in Europe. The Church presided over burnings at-the stake, inquisitions, slave labor building Missions and suppression of science. For the time Muslims were the ones who enjoyed a high civilization. Beheadings were an accepted form of capital punishment in Europe a couple of centuries back. The custom was to tip the guy with a cleaver to assure a short, sharp chop and quick departure.

The point is that under the aegis of religion horrific acts can occur with impunity. It has always been thus. The fervor whipped up by holy men or supreme leaders taps into the psyche of the faithful. It turned cultured Germans into first mindless sheep and then wolves and is turning dispossessed Sunnis into hooded thugs.

Religion is by nature divisive. It sets tent against tent splitting hairs and often heads. It diverts attention away from essential human needs. The pages of our Testaments and their Koran contain ample support for slavery, stonings and a variety of killings and coercion in the name of a higher power.

Islam has no exclusivity on such nonsense and excess. If it were inherently evil we would have been witness to jihads for the past sixteen centuries. We have not. The word infidel is a Christian notion. 

Yes, large numbers of Muslims have found their way into Europe. Is it not true that Pakistanis emigrate to the U.K. and North Africans to France as a consequence of their early colonization of these parts of the world? They have come home to roost; and while they roost they multiply at a higher rate than their hosts which furnishes a labor force to pay the pensions of the elders.

My sense is that the current spread of fundamentalist Islam has its appeal, not in religion, but as a unifying vessel in which to pour their grievances. They seem to have traded prayer rugs for masks. The Western world is a broad target easy to hate and we are there in the sky serving as a recruiting poster. The West has exploited the region most recently for that black stuff under the sand and before that for the Suez Canal as a gateway for the Brits to their Indian Raj and opium trade. 

If we were to withdraw they would confront their Internecine differences and might even discover their common denominator. Think of that. Protestants and Papists seem to have found their Kumbaya. And now look who loves the Jews. 

It would take great courage on our part to disengage. The vacuum created by our departure would remove their greatest object of derision and encourage the folks in the marauding army to stop and build a society that truly serves their needs. It is their call. Hatred is not sustainable. There is nothing holy about a holy war.

As for the phobia that Islam engenders perhaps it is our own shadow; that propensity for revenge, unforgiving righteousness and pernicious violence in our own culture. Indeed there are no Muslims in my muslin sheets.

1 comment:

  1. Very insiteful and terribly true. Power corrupts no mater whether it is based religious leadership or not. So many dead in the name of God(s).