Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Malevolence of the Fundamentalist Christian Left

Considering the malevolent narrative published in the letter by missionaries representing, among other denominations, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, United Church of Christ, and the United Methodist Church, this report by Adam Holland must be commended for its remarkably restrained and measured tone:

Reflecting on the society into which Jesus was born, we see many similarities to life here today. The ancient Israelites were occupied and suffered at the hands of a foreign power. The Roman occupied lived freely, able to use and abuse the local population at will, while the subjugated peoples lived in constant uncertainty and anxiety, never sure how they would be treated or whether they would be singled out for random punishment. This is being repeated today for Palestinians living under the longest occupation in modern history, generally trying to live life and survive, but sometimes crossing the line into illegal and counterproductive violence, such as firing rockets from Gaza into Israel. O Come, O Come Emmanuel!

"Historical analogies" says Oliver Kamm, "are never exact but sometimes useful. If they are to be useful, then the precedent needs at a minimum to be stated accurately." It's a useful marker by which to gauge the intellectual and common honesty of an analogy, then, to try and at least pay some attention to the signifier (precedent). In this case, the relationship between the Roman empire and its Jewish subjects:

The siege of Jerusalem, the capital city, had begun early in the war, but had turned into a stalemate. Unable to breach the city's defenses, the Roman armies established a permanent camp just outside the city, digging a trench around the circumference of its walls and building a wall as high as the city walls themselves around Jerusalem. Anyone caught in the trench attempting to flee the city would be captured, crucified, and placed in lines on top of the dirt wall facing into Jerusalem. The two Zealot leaders, John of Gischala and Simon Bar Giora, only ceased hostilities and joined forces to defend the city when the Romans began to construct ramparts for the siege. Those attempting to escape the city were crucified, with as many as five hundred crucifixions occurring in a day.[4] (Source)

The defeat of the Jewish revolt altered the Jewish diaspora, as many of the Jewish rebels were scattered or sold into slavery. Josephus claims that 1,100,000 people were killed during the siege, a sizeable portion of these to illnesses brought about by hunger. "A pestilential destruction upon them, and soon afterward such a famine, as destroyed them more suddenly."[5] 97,000 were captured and enslaved[5] and many others fled to areas around the Mediterranean. (Source)

People who profess to emulate Jesus should not be complicit in the business of demonization practiced by Palestinian propagandeers. Demonization, let's not forget, utilizes the power of the symbol to dehumanize entire nations, thus preparing and conditioning public opinion for the acceptance of genocide, as explained here, in the eight phases leading to a genocide:

2. SYMBOLIZATION: We give names or other symbols to the classifications. We name people “Jews” or “Gypsies”, or distinguish them by colors or dress; and apply the symbols to members of groups. Classification and symbolization are universally human and do not necessarily result in genocide unless they lead to the next stage, dehumanization. When combined with hatred, symbols may be forced upon unwilling members of pariah groups: the yellow star for Jews under Nazi rule, the blue scarf for people from the Eastern Zone in Khmer Rouge Cambodia. To combat symbolization, hate symbols can be legally forbidden (swastikas) as can hate speech. Group marking like gang clothing or tribal scarring can be outlawed, as well. The problem is that legal limitations will fail if unsupported by popular cultural enforcement. Though Hutu and Tutsi were forbidden words in Burundi until the 1980’s, code-words replaced them. If widely supported, however, denial of symbolization can be powerful, as it was in Bulgaria, where the government refused to supply enough yellow badges and at least eighty percent of Jews did not wear them, depriving the yellow star of its significance as a Nazi symbol for Jews.

3. DEHUMANIZATION: One group denies the humanity of the other group. Members of it are equated with animals, vermin, insects or diseases. Dehumanization overcomes the normal human revulsion against murder. At this stage, hate propaganda in print and on hate radios is used to vilify the victim group. In combating this dehumanization, incitement to genocide should not be confused with protected speech. Genocidal societies lack constitutional protection for countervailing speech, and should be treated differently than democracies. Local and international leaders should condemn the use of hate speech and make it culturally unacceptable. Leaders who incite genocide should be banned from international travel and have their foreign finances frozen. Hate radio stations should be shut down, and hate propaganda banned. Hate crimes and atrocities should be promptly punished.

1 Comments:

At 11:20 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want to quote your post in my blog. It can?
And you et an account on Twitter?

 

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