07 June 2005

Wednesday April 20, 2005
Moral terrorism

Sometimes we think we are so unique in the world. But just a little reading makes us realize that there are so many parallels with other people, despite what looks like inherent differences.

This coming week, the leader of the majority Republicans in the United States, Senator Bill Frist, is participating in a telecast geared towards labeling the opposition Democrats as acting “against people of faith.” This is because the Democrats are opposing the nomination of judges with extremely conservative views. But, as columnist Frank Rich of the New York Times says, Senator Frist and his allies do not mean people of all faiths, only those of their faith.

In the US these days, politics is becoming increasingly enmeshed with religion, or, at least, one religion. The government and its supporters are determined to impose their particular beliefs onto all their citizens regardless of their own individual faiths.

This seems to go entirely against the Constitution of the United States that forbids the imposition of religious views on Americans, since people escaping religious persecution, after all, founded it.

This mixing up of religion and politics has meant that government policy is completely dictated by specific beliefs, and not necessarily evidence. Thus, for example, US funding for HIV/AIDS programmes anywhere in the world is unavailable for anything that includes sex education, condoms or harm reduction. Instead they are only available for strictly abstinence-only programmes that have never been proven to work.

People of no faith

The reason Senator Frist is so upset about any blocking of appointments of the “right” judges is because the US courts had refused to allow the government to interfere in the case of Terry Schiavo, the severely brain-damaged woman whose husband and doctors wanted to cease her life support system, and whose parents didn’t.

The courts decided it was a private matter. So Frist thinks that if the “right” judges had been in the courts, they could have forced Schiavo’s doctors and husband to keep her on life support, as they already have for the past 15 years even though there was no hope for her recovery.

That’s one thing. But it’s quite another thing to then label people who oppose that move as acting against people of faith. Basically he’s saying that those who disagree with him are people of no faith, godless heretics determined to destroy society. Sound familiar to you?

It’s the oldest trick in the book for people of a certain political ilk to try and gain cheap points by claiming that those who disagree with them have suspect religious credentials. They try and claim the supposed higher moral ground yet at the same time preach intolerance and discrimination.

Under a supposed halo that they give to themselves, they defame others by besmirching their reputations as loyal citizens and faithful believers and call for the harshest sanctions against them. Not exactly the type of serene actions you would expect from people who believe in the peaceful possibilities of faith.

Shout them down

Let’s not forget that people like Senator Frist supported the invasion of Iraq. In this he and his like are very much supported by various American faith-based groups, some of whom speak a language which very much appeals to the same types of politicians in our country, and in fact have made some inroads here.

Their method is simple; forget the need to have any evidence of anything, or the need to have respectful discussion and debate. Just work on people’s emotions by saying that those people don’t believe enough in their religion, if at all, fixate on outward appearances and just simply shout them down.

To organize a telecast geared towards condemning people is a pretty sophisticated form of shouting people down. I just hope this form doesn’t take root here.

But shouting and shutting down of anyone trying to present a different view is pretty standard operating procedure here. In a country where people dislike confrontation, slander and defamation is the norm.

Attack the other person’s morals first off. If the other person is a decent person, they will simply not respond because basing a discussion on individual morality goes nowhere.

So we are forced to put up with personal insults, knowing that the whole idea of the other side is to simply shut the discussion down, not advance it. I call that moral terrorism.

We could wind up like the current situation in the United States if we are not vigilant. The only difference is that in the US, there are people who have the courage to publicly denounce these acts of moral terrorism. Here there are far too few of us and it’s hard going. Moral courage, exactly what we need to combat this intolerance, is in short supply. We should shed tears of despair.