Religion

The New Final Solution

No one individual has contributed more to the English language than William Shakespeare. Words, expressions and turns of phrase abound in the lexicon, all owing to him. So all-encompassing was his facility with vocabulary that he has enriched the speech of even the modestly educated. And yet for all his brilliant writing skills, his sense of drama and passion, his grasp of good and evil, and his insights into the human heart, there is one area in which he glaringly failed. William Shakespeare had no idea how to end the human violence he so easily penned in his writings. He came close once.

In “Henry VI” we read, “The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.’’ In context it is a declaration of the need for law and order, for the words are spoken not by a protagonist, but by Dick the Butcher, a follower of the rebel Jack Cade. Dick the Butcher knew that if things were to change someone, some “lot” of someones, had to die. In that regard not much has changed over the last 500 years. If we want things to change, some “lot” of someones has to die. We just have to make sure we target the right collective.

With the new surge in terrorism, many groups want to kill each other. But there is no order in mere desire. I say, “Kill them all.” But we need a carefully crafted process. And we can gleam one from the last 100 years.

In 1948 India was emerging as a country freed from the oppression of the British empire. Mahatma Gandhi, the father of this new nation, was killed by Nathuram Godse, a Hindu extremist. He was only one man and clearly a fanatic. That, however, does not alter the fact that we cannot trust any Hindus. Many of them have been complicit in killing Muslims and Christians for decades. So, first, let’s kill all the Hindus. One terrorist group gone.

In 1995 Timothy McVeigh detonated a truck bomb in front of the Murray Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people and injuring more than 600 hundred others. Again, just one discontented man—a Christian intrigued by white supremacy and anti-government fervor. But where to begin with that? Christians have been killing for centuries, sometimes each other, and sometimes in the name of God. No trust there. So next, let’s kill all the Christians. Another terrorist group gone.

Later that same year, as Israel and Palestine were beginning to see light at the end of a long tunnel of violence, peace seemed within reach. That is, until Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by Yigal Amir, a Jewish religious extremist. Again he was only one person. But as far back as the Old Testament, Jews have been killing often with the illusion that they were acting under their God’s orders. No wonder then, that Rabin’s death paved the way for Benjamin Netanyahu to completely collapse the tunnel of hope and fully extinguish the light of peace, making it easy for Israel to embrace its own style of terrorism. Next move? Let’s kill all the Jews. A third terrorist group gone.

Choices abound for the next group. Let’s pick 2015. A husband and wife team, Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, opened fire on a community center in San Bernardino. Two Muslims entranced by the absurdities of Islamic State extremists. This direct attack on the life and values of Western society proved that Muslims cannot be trusted either. That’s no surprise. History shows that beginning with Muhammed (peace be upon him), Islam has waged religious war for more than thirteen hundred years. The next move is clear. Let’s kill all the Muslims.

Some might object, declaring that each of the examples cited above is just one or two people. That’s not the point. Each perpetrator reflects the reality of a larger group. Donald Trump, Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz know this. That’s why so many are following their lead in condemning all Muslims, insisting that we keep all Syrian refugees out and register all Muslims already here. But if we’re honest, Muslims are not the only problem. Hindu on Hindu violence, Christian on Christian violence, Jew on Jew violence, Muslim on everybody violence.

Yes, I say, “Let’s kill them all—Hindus, Christians, Jews and Muslims.” Then when all the killing is done, when the religious thirst for death and revenge is quenched, when people need no longer fear religious fanatics, and we are left only with Atheists, I say

AMEN. Peace be upon all.
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Obama and Satan

It seems that every time a ray of hope dares to break the distant horizon, storm clouds sweep along and darken the landscape. Case in point: Just as every thoughtful person began to believe that not one more wasteful word of nonsense would escape the lips and empty mind of Glenn Beck, along comes the History Channel.

The History Channel? That bulwark of cable networks that proffers programs ranging from ancient civilizations to modern scientific advances? The network that investigates mysteries from Stonehenge to the Great Pyramid? That treks along the Great Wall of China and ascends the mountains of Machu Pichu? The very same. The History Channel.

A casual reader might think that I have abandoned myself to hyperbole. But no. The History Channel has broadcast a program entitled “The Bible”. Sounds innocuous enough. Except that Glenn Beck, among other ignoramuses, claims that the Moroccan actor who plays the role of the devil, Mohamen Mehdi Ouazzani, looks like President Barack Obama.

Where to begin? Let’s start with the fact that both the History Channel, as well as the program’s producer, calls the claim absurd. There is no resemblance, intended or otherwise. Still, there is a problem. And it does begin with the History Channel.

A program entitled “The Bible” can be elegantly produced, well cast and exceptionally directed. But it has no place on the History Channel. Even if only by implication, one is led to believe that the Bible is history. At the risk of alienating ill-informed and uneducated believers, the Bible is
not history. It is a book of faith, filled with truth and many inspiring stories. But it is not history.

A second problem occurs with the program’s script. As good as it may be, in terms of filmmaking, it neglects the reality that the devil—even within the Bible itself—is mere mythology. This may be difficult to grasp. Evil is very real and its effects are experienced daily by millions of people. Take violence, for example. We are a world of, and at, war. But the concept of a Satan is merely an oratorical tool to explain the existence of evil.

Thirdly, it is unfortunate that a dark-skinned actor, particularly one from North Africa, would agree to play the role of the mythical Satan. That decision perpetuates the stereotypes of good and evil as white and black. Further, it fuels a regrettably ignorant prejudice against Muslims, and Africans in general.

Having said all this, I realize that intelligent people will give no weight to Glenn Beck’s ramblings. I even have to admit an embarrassment at giving him more attention than he deserves. Beck refuses even to acknowledge President Obama by name, choosing instead “that guy”. And certainly, there is no way that my reflections can seep inside his ever-shrinking brain. He has already made a commitment to serve up stupidity on a regular basis. He cannot be taken seriously.

My concern is with those people who simply do not know better, and whose ignorance may not be their own fault. To them I say, read the Bible, watch the movie. Just remember. It is not history.
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