This post is not aimed at my regular readers, or at others who address religious issues on a regular basis. It is aimed at those who only ever seem to pop their heads up when Islam is mentioned and, all too often, when the victims of Islamic violence are, let us say, 'of European descent.'
It is aimed at those like the fuckwhit who left a comment I saw somewhere under a story about the murder of Muslims by Buddhists in Myanmar, to the effect that any group who are against Islam are alright by him.
It is aimed at those who think branding every single Muslim in the world as a would-be terrorist is a fine and dandy idea.
It is aimed at those who wouldn't quite go that far, oh no, they're too nice to do that, but are still happy to discriminate against all Muslims 'just in case.' Because, as the torturers at Guantanamo might say, it's fine when we do it, since we're the good guys, right?
It is aimed at those who constantly and obsessively shoehorn comparisons to Islam into discussions of completely unrelated stories about the wrong-doings of other religious movements.
You get the idea.
Where are your cries of condemnation regarding the massacre of two thousand people in Baga, Nigeria? The religion-based conflict in Nigeria has claimed the lives of ten thousand people in five years. Where are the rolling news stories and video-clips played on continuous loop whilst no new information is given, to the point where it begins to look more like voyeurism than reporting? Where are the 'Je suis Nigeria' memes on Facebook, the condemnations by heads of state? But long-running wars which don't threaten
white people westerners or their oil-supplies, and which don't generate video clips of bombs going off and bullets flying in streets which look just like our own, make far less attention-grabbing headlines, don't they.
How many people have died, or have lived with disease and poverty, due to religious proclamations regarding the use of condoms? I have no idea, but if the answer isn't in the millions, I'll be very much surprised. But again, it doesn't make for nice news footage does it?, and it might offend western, Christian, religious sensibilities to boot. Killing people slowly and oppressing them with force other than that obtained from a gun, is less newsworthy, less immediately-shocking—but people still die; many of them children. People still end up living with and dying from easily-preventable diseases and poverty.
Genital mutilation of children, to varying degrees of brutality, is often referred to as 'cultural,' rather than specifically religious. It's noteworthy, though, that the cultures it chiefly happens in also happen to be cultures where the three main Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, are rife.
Do a google-search for witchcraft accusations. People, including many children, are being hounded into 'camps,' made homeless, and killed—and yes, sometimes by the traditional burning—for the crime of witchcraft. In the twenty-first bloody century! Where, Gentle Reader, do we suppose so many people got the idea from, that 'thou shalt not suffer a witch to live,' and that the 'satanic' practice even exists in the first place?
What other social movement, than religion, would provide a
pulpit platform for people to stand up, in our so-called tolerant western societies, and proclaim that LGBT people should be herded into camps or killed? Are we tolerant, really, when calls for death-camps are tolerated, or are we merely fetishising free speech to the point where we can't even bring ourselves to punish such blatant and dangerously influential intolerance? I don't know; that's actually a very hard question, given the obvious slippery slope, but I ask again: from what platform, other than the pulpit, could such a thing be said, and be virtually ignored except by their equally bigoted audience, those being told they are vermin to be exterminated, and those who make it a point to follow religious news?
And talking of LGBT matters, where are the shock-horror news stories regarding the situations in Christian-majority places like Uganda and Russia? Islamists hang gay people, and it's splashed in gory pictures, video-clips and outraged headlines across the world. And so it bloody-well should be. But where was the corresponding outrage when a Ugandan pogrom erupted, following a newspaper exposé of the 'Top 100 Homos' in the country? And as for Russia, we not only nearly-unanimously ignored it when they began their inhumane targeting of 'sexual perverts,' we gave 'em the fucking Olympic Games!
If you're a citizen of the USA, how many abortion clinics are left in your state? Where do you think the funding comes from, for all those anti-abortion organisations? Imagine the success continues: When the last legal clinic is closed, and the anti-abortionists are proclaiming their suddenly glorious godly nation as an example to the world, how many families will struggle with the poverty engendered by unwanted, unplanned children? How many women will die from the effects of botched back-street and DIY coat-hanger abortions?
The injustices, beliefs, prejudices and religious and political threads which lead to radicalised Islam having taken root in parts of the middle east are many and various. Equally many and various are the threads leading to some third-generation French descendents of north African immigrants being radicalised by that Gulf-based version of Islam to the point where they are willing to kill in defence of its skewed view of honour. And all those influences do need unpacking and discussing, if we are ever to make sense of, and have any hope of fixing this blight. But at the end of the day, they didn't commit that atrocity whilst proclaiming slogans regarding the marginalisation of Muslims and others of African descent in France. They, themselves, declared their motives to be purely religious.
The number of atrocities and injustices excused by, enabled by, or directly caused by all religions in this world, are beyond counting. Those who seem to want to claim one religion—any religion—as 'the' most dangerous are missing the point. And in the case of those who focus entirely on Islam, I would say that, at the most kindly reading of their obsession, they're distracted by the attention-grabbing boom of bombs and crack of rifles; the narrative of the headline writer looking for an easy hook. The Roman Catholic church, for instance, is just as blood-soaked; it is merely less immediately obvious about it, and the suffering and death is caused at a slower, less headline-grabbing pace.
Now, I'm not naïve enough to believe that if religion disappeared tomorrow, all humanity's troubles would be over. Greed, nationalism, lack of empathy, racism and misogyny, and all the other ways in which human beings manage to excuse inhumanity, would still exist.
We may one day, it is to be hoped, fix or minimise the effects of those problems.
While half the world or more mistakes obedience to the seemingly arbitrary commands of non-existent beings for morals; while far too many think that any atrocity or prejudice is okay, if given the authority of a ghostly tyrant; while millions believe that we should leave all our problems for a spectre to solve for us; all the while that it is considered, even by many non-believers, to be gauche, rude, impolite, to criticise the belief in bogey-men which is used to excuse injustice…
While people are voting and acting on the belief that it is sensible or socially acceptable to make allowance for the unreal, the best we can ever manage will be a band-aid. A temporary fix. The very real problems will never be properly addressed, let alone truly fixed, until the majority of us are not fixated on appeasing the unreal or hesitating to speak when doing so might hurt the delicate sensibilities of the unrealists.
If you're truly interested in a humanistic solution to human problems, in creating a society, a civilisation, which looks real-world problems square in the face, then obsessing over the one branch of unrealism which provides eye-catching fire-storms, whilst ignoring, or even excusing, the many branches which are steadily, and without fuss, burning away the surrounding countryside with less spectacular but equally destructive smudge-fires, is entirely the wrong approach.
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