About Rationally Speaking
Rationally Speaking is a blog maintained by Prof. Massimo Pigliucci, a philosopher at the City University of New York. The blog reflects the Enlightenment figure Marquis de Condorcet's idea of what a public intellectual (yes, we know, that's such a bad word) ought to be: someone who devotes himself to "the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the government, and all long-established institutions had gathered and protected them." You're welcome. Please notice that the contents of this blog can be reprinted under the standard Creative Commons license.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Traitors go to Hell?
But let me go back to the invitation to go to Hell. I'm not trying to make a subtle theological point here (like, Hell? What the hell are you talking about, simpleton?), but rather a political one. Specifically, I would really be interested in knowing exactly what in the alleged teachings of Jesus virtually guarantees (if history is any indication) a steady alliance between Christians and the military (remember the Crusades, if you wonder what I'm talking about).
Why is that? Granted, the jealous and small-minded god of the Old Testament incited his followers to one carnage after another, directly condoning genocide, ethnic cleansing and abortion (as in passing the enemy's pregnant women through the sword) and still had the balls to claim the moral high ground, giving his people “the law” according to which they ought to behave.
But the New Testament was supposed to have introduced a nicer, gentler god, whose new “present the other cheek” attitude was to override the “Father's" sociopathic streak (yes, I know that even Jesus had his moments invoking swords and condoning violence, but still, one has to make the comparison with what preceded him – morality evolves slowly).
There is a famous Italian song by Fabrizio De Andre` about the Ten Commandments which is appropriate to this discussion. The story in the song is told from the point of view of one of the bandits allegedly crucified with Jesus. The lyrics at one point point say:
Lo Sanno a memoria il diritto divino
ma scordano sempre il perdono
(They have memorized the divine law, but they always forget the part about forgiveness)
Oh, by the way, a “patriot” is someone who loves his country enough to want it to go in the right direction, and it follows that a true patriot is occasionally called to question those in charge, even at the risk of going to jail or being told he's going to an imaginary place where he would be in some of the best company in the world. A patriot, on the other hand, is most certainly not someone like Bush and Cheney, who has lied to the American people from the beginning, inventing excuses for a war they were itching to get started regardless of 9/11 and bin Laden (by the way, is he in Hell yet?), likely stealing an election or two to keep in power, and spying on their own citizens in the name of a war that isn't (one does not fight wars against terrorism, any more than one fights them against drugs or cancer).
The most pernicious development of the last twenty years or so is not the war on terror, but the newly reforged alliance between religious nuts and political ideologues – in the Middle East as much as in the good ol' U.S. of A. That is the common enemy of humanity, to hell with everything else.