THE WAR ON EVERYTHING

Posted: January 9, 2014 in Current Events, Integral Studies, Personal Whining, Philosophical Debris, politics, Religion

Credit where credit is due, I’ve stolen the topic and title for this post from an article by PZ Meyers on the Blog, Pharyngula.  I find this an interesting blog site where I feel that I agree with a majority of what is said, even though much of it doesn’t need to be said.  What I don’t agree with is their rampant atheistic and rationalistic fundamentalism.  But that’s a complex issue and I just want to qualify my reference to it before… It’s a fun blog to read and more often than not makes some interesting points.

Social and political right wing types seem to be referring to everything these days as conspiracies and wars.  There is the War On Christmas, the War On Religion, the War On the Rich, the War on White People, the Media Conspiracy, the Hollywood Conspiracy, the Left Wing Conspiracy…

Right Wing politicians, especially in the States and hopefully to a lesser degree in Canada, seem to have found an interesting metaphor to light the fire under some  less intelligent constituents.  They are at war, -a war for their very survival, because evil pinko leftists and heathen atheists (not to mention Godless Gays) are trying to threaten their way of life and force them to … whatever.  Which is of course nonsense.

The War On Christmas is largely a myth.  Saying that some multi denominational schools are becoming more conscious of the religious beliefs (or lack of belief) of all of their students is a war on Christmas, is ridiculous.  Is it a war if you don’t make a Jewish student sing “Away In A Manger”?  Often Christian conservatives will object to the school providing instruction on Sex Education, saying that the secular school has no business imposing itself on Christian family values.  While I don’t agree with that, if it were in any way true, Christians should also believe that observance of religious holidays is part of those family values and therefore belong at home and not in the school.  I don’t necessarily believe that either, but it follows as an argument.

Is it a war if someone who is not of the Christian faith wishes you a Happy Holidays or Season’s Greetings?  Being offended by someone saying Happy Holidays to you rather than Merry Christmas is petty.  Calling it a war is paranoid.

But calling it a war is also designed to promote a specific response of indignation and judgement.  If there is a War On Religion, then a religious person feels justified in fighting back in ways that are suitable for warfare.  It polarizes the political scene, creating an “us against them” mentality.  Look at the War On Communism of the 50s, which resulted in many stereotypes and injustices.  Horrible things were justified in the name of that “war”.  The degree of commitment and passion in a “war” gives you permission to dismiss things like rational argument, real facts and intellectual qualifications.  In George Orwell’s 1984, society was in a perpetual state of war in order to promote the “double think” that was essential to the furtherance of government policy.

Most of all, it makes you feel secure and smug about your own ignorance.  It gives you a target for feelings of resentment.  It plays to your Shadows.  All of these things fuel your support for and serve a political agenda.  In that way it is 50% rationalization in that it promotes that smugness and resentment, and 50% manipulation in that the Right Wing powers see it as a shadow to play on and encourage in order to promote their political agenda.

There is no war.  Merely existing and asking for the same rights that everyone else has is not a war, at least as long as you respect the fact that there is no right to infringe on someone else’s rights.  Take prayer in school, for example.  Having it as an overt, obligatory event at the start of the day could very well be an affront to people in a classroom who do not have the same beliefs.  How would Christian students feel if a Muslim student unrolled their prayer mat in the corner of the classroom several times a day and commenced to pray?   It also sets a sub group (even if they are a majority) up in a superior position.  On the other hand, forbidding people to pray at the beginning of the day can be seen to interfere with the rights of those who would choose to.  There seems to be a paradox, a conflict of rights.  And yet there isn’t.  This is why the separation of church and state was created, to mediate a question just like this.  If Christians believe that some things like family values don’t belong in the school, then prayer is definitely one of those things.  They shouldn’t want it there, -unless they feel a sense of special entitlement  Even so, there is an obvious solution, which was used by many of the schools I taught at, especially a decade or so ago.  That is to start the day with a minute of silence, in which one can pray, meditate, reflect on the day, or plan a party.  The funny thing is that I’m sure that would be unacceptable to a lot of Christians.  They would say that anything short of the overt prayer is a defamation of their rights.

I’m pointing out this particular example because it demonstrates the kind of one sided, entitlist  thinking held by right wing conservatives in a whole host of situations, from prayer to abortion to countless other issues.  Democracy has nothing to do with it.  Their one sided view trumps democracy because they know that they are right, and often feel justified in doing anything to achieve their goals because God is on their side.  That is the nature of this “war”.  In reality, they see it as a war against their right to be superior, entitled and self-righteous.  When you feel that way about yourself, it’s a lot easier to take yourself seriously if you are involved in a “war”.

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