Secularism and Violence (12-14; November 12)

I know that I am commenting on one of the last things in this section first, but it’s one of the things that stuck out most to me.  In his summary of the chapter “The Nation-State and Secular Humanist Violence”, Avalos says, “[T]he more secularized democracies such as the United States, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden see much less religious violence than is found in the Middle East and other secularized regions.”

What?  (Feel free to insert an intense tone of incredulity into that syllable.)  He rattles that statement off and then just keeps trucking on to the next point, like there’s no issue anywhere in what he said.  First of all, how in the world did he make that determination of countries?  What about the Germany?  Or Spain or France?  Is it countries that have no declared national religion?  Even if it is, I don’t think the U.S. fits in that list with Iceland, Norway, and Sweden–I feel like he’s doing that test in elementary school where you get a group of four things and are asked which of them is not like the other.  I get lossed with the U.S.  There’s a Christian basis for a lot of the United States–the Pledge of Allegiance (and no, Sarah Palin, the founding fathers have nothing to do with it–a little man named Francis Bellamy does.  And furthermore, the “one nation under God” bit wasn’t added until the 1950s to flush out commies–because spies can’t lie, you know.  Oh, man.  Sorry–tangential again!) and the Ten Commandments exhibited at court houses ensure that.  Okay, so the U.S. official stance is that we have no religion.  But, in this scenario, I think we have to weigh official versus real. 

Leaving aside how he makes that determination, is it true?  Do secularized democracies see less religious violence?  I can maybe see that the religious implications of violence are more overt in other countries–which could possibly lead to this–but I maintain that its simply to broad.  I must admit, upon reading this, of relating it to Juergensmeyer and the combination of nationalism and religion. 

All right, now that I began with the end (if I’m not careful my language is going to go Lewis Carroll), I’ll move on to the beginning.  Page 305–it’s talking about religion being a primary factor in the Nazi movement and the author Steven Katz is cited as saying, “‘The Holocaust is phenomologically unique by virtue of the fact that never before has a state set out, as a matter of intentional principle and actualized policy, to annihilate physically every man, woman, and child belonging to a specific people.”  What about the Romans and the early Christians?  What about the Christians during the Dark Ages?  What about the United States government and the Native Americans?  What about the former Yugoslavia?

And all that’s only before the Holocaust!  And there’s more.  Then and now–now we have Rwanda and Darfur and other attempts at genocide.  It comes back to Kimball–when you have a religious tradition, any response to that is an enemy; it’s an either/or mindset.  You can apply this to Avalos himself.  Opposition to his theory is the enemy.

Speaking of Kimball and that phenomenon, I came across an interesting example of that very thing and martyrs/demons.  There’s a paragraph on that same page that talks about certain researchers who believe that pagan religions were behind the movement.  Now, I’m going to go ahead and acknowledge that I have a complete and utter bias against Nazis and Nazi Germany.  I do.  I read, I would be tempted to say mistakenly if I didn’t so love it and books in general, Hitler’s Willing Executioners.  And I am so hardcore biased.  Screw nationalism and culture.  They were wrong

Now, this is just my bias speaking.

I have to all this I swear–my response to reading that paragraph was to scribble in the margin, “Nice try.”  Nice try?  Like they were attempting to pin it on pagan people and had failed.  Juergensmeyer is so write about the martyr/demon issue.  Just because I’m pagan, I instantly believed the whole argument was poppycock.  It’s either a reverse effect or a side effect of satanization and the invention of enemies, I haven’t decided yet. 

It was interesting to think of the church as a vehicle for Nazism.  Sometimes, I’m shocked by exactly how little my brain comprehends of the massive numbers of people who died.  There are those rare flashes of understanding that only last for a few moments, wherein you feel as though you’ve grasped it and are at the brink of comprehension.  More often that not, they blink away just as rapidly as they had occurred, but you’re left knowing that you thought something and it was something big.  I had one of those when I was reading this.  Anti-semitism was so widespread.  Just recently, a man named Dr. Lyon, a survivor of Kristallnacht, came and spoke at UND.  He talked about his families move to America and how, upon settling in Minneapolis, he and his family encountered even more anti-semitic attitudes.  There was even restrictive housing for Jews.  That wasn’t so very long ago.  Less than a faerie sigh, as they’d say. 

Thinking about that led me to think about sundown towns, which still exist here and there.  And prejudice because of the color of one’s skin isn’t so drastic as prejudice for one’s religion.  The idea that this exists, just nuts me out.  Whoa, man.


~ by spim on November 17, 2008.

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