2 December 2014

Christendom is not the victim, Prince

. @hjbentham. #islamophobia. #injustice. #LOrdre. #isis. #Iraq. #Syria #Islam.

In a video on November 4, Prince Charles decried the plight of Christians, arguing that they had to contend with the “spread” of Islam in the Middle East. From the Prince’s statement, we are reminded how a false and archaic image of Christendom as the innocent victim of Islam pervades public opinion in the United Kingdom, and is perpetuated by top public figures.

Since Prince Charles’ video, I have written this essay to respond to the spreading notion that Christianity is somehow more civilized than Islam and is less responsible for violence in the modern world. It isn’t.

It is ironic that Prince Charles made mention of the Central African Republic (CAR) and the violence taking place there, in his video. Those who have followed events in the CAR must already know that the violence is overwhelmingly being practiced by Christian mobs against Muslims, contrary to those who would like to depict Christendom as an innocent victim of Muslims.

Christian violence in the CAR has been so extreme that it is even reported to include cannibalism. My question for all the anti-Islamic commentators and crusaders in the media is simple. If you are prepared to blame the “Islamic State” or ISIL terrorist group’s actions in Iraq on the Islamic faith, where is your recognition of the cannibalism and terrorism in the CAR as a crime of your “civilized” Christianity?

There has been no shortage of horrific violence perpetrated by Christian militants in Africa since the 1990s, including the crimes of the Lord’s Resistance Army led by the infamous Joseph Kony in Uganda. The Lord’s Resistance Army is a fundamentalist Christian movement, whose crimes include terrorism, mutilation, child-sex slavery, and the use of child soldiers. In sum, the crimes of these nasty specimens of Christendom are far worse than anything yet reported to have been practiced by the supposedly “Islamic” terrorist groups.

All the while, somehow, the faith of these Christian militants in Africa has never been specified in the English-language international media in the rare occasions that it bothers to draw attention to their atrocities. Compare this to the manner in which any connection to Islam by any terrorist is always reported and distorted by the media, in a desperate attempt to make Islam look militant and make Christianity look civilized.

For an even more blatant example of this disproportionate media focus on violence by Muslims and refusal to acknowledge violence by Christians, look at Nigeria, always portrayed in the media as a victim of terrorism by Muslims. Nigeria is facing two insurgencies: one by the supposedly Islamic Boko Haram group, the other by the supposedly Christian Movement for the Emancipation of the Nile Delta (MEND). To remove any doubt that both groups could be called terrorist organizations, the goal of the MEND, in their own words, is “to save Christianity in Nigeria from annihilation. The bombings of mosques, haj camps, Islamic institutions, large congregations in Islamic events and assassinations of clerics that propagate doctrines of hate will form the core mission of this crusade.”

What this means is that, even in the same country, US and European media fail to mention terrorism by Christians while they exaggerate terrorism by Muslims. If a country only experiences terrorism by Christians against Muslims, with no retaliation by Muslims, the media are unlikely report any terrorism at all in the country in question. At every opportunity, these media sources like to haunt their viewers with the specter of terrorism by Muslims, while insulating them from all news of Christian terrorism around the world. Christian terrorism is alive and well, and it’s worse than so-called Islamic terrorism.

It is a sad reality that all members of the public in the US and Europe are constantly bombarded with vitriolic anti-Islamic clichés and crude propaganda, designed to strengthen the hand of Zionists and reactionary politicians. To confront the lies, one must confront the liars with facts that defy them. Christians in the US and Europe need to realize that there are militants supposedly belonging to the Christian religion out there even today, committing worse crimes than any Muslim. With this knowledge, they should refrain from aggressively criticizing whole religions in response to the actions of isolated extremist groups.

The divisive anti-Islam message being spread throughout the whole spectrum of the US-led corporate media deliberately evades talking about the suffering of Muslims in numerous countries, and promotes a myth of Christians being saints and victims of Muslims everywhere. As shown in the example of Prince Charles, even personalities who call for interfaith dialogue often presuppose that Islam is a disproportionate source of aggression, and that Christianity is intrinsically more peaceful and civilized. This shallow assumption that Muslims are militants and Christians are peacemakers is patently absurd, and must be challenged whenever it is used if we want to effectively counter Islamophobia.

In the United States, Pat Robertson is a prominent Christian media mogul, known for controversially denouncing Muslims and even likening Islam to totalitarian Nazi ideology. In 2009, he stated:
Islam is a violent – I was going to say, 'religion', but it's not a religion; it's a political system. It's a violent political system bent on the overthrow of the governments of the world, and world domination. That is the ultimate aim. And they talk about infidels and all this, but the truth is that's what the game is. So, you're dealing with a – not a religion – you're dealing with a political system. And I think we should treat it as such, and treat its adherents as such, as we would members of the Communist Party, or members of some fascist group.”
Pat Robertson’s characterization of Islam as violent is particularly strange, when there are abundant examples of Christians supporting brutal regimes and carrying out some of the worst atrocities ever recorded, even in recent times. For an example, look no further than this hypocrite, Pat Robertson himself. He was supportive of Liberian warlord Charles Taylor, also a devout Christian, and according to The Hague, an enslaver of child soldiers and perpetrator of “some of the most heinous and brutal crimes recorded in human history” during the Sierra Leone Civil War (1991-2002). The multitude of crimes included terrorism, rape and murder, for which he was found guilty. It is hard to back up Pat Robertson’s self-righteous characterization of Islam as a source of violence, when his own religion is replete with disgraceful liars like him and even more reprehensible war criminals like Taylor.

Even in view of all that has been described here, some Christian commentators and anti-Islam intellectuals in Europe and the US will make the claim that Christians have not committed any recent crimes, and that we have to go all the way back to the Crusades to find examples of Christian atrocities. This is false. There were abundant Christian atrocities in the 1990s, and there are still Christian atrocities and acts of terror continuing in Africa, often claiming Muslim victims as they do in the Central African Republic and witnessing little to no retaliation by the Muslim population.
Another claim often made by critics of Islam in Europe and the United States is a criticism of states, alleging that Muslim countries are politically and culturally more repressive than the democracies with large Christian populations. This is a favorite argument of US atheist pundit Bill Maher, who claims to be against all religious politics but shows an asinine, drooling obsession with criticizing Islam and defending Israeli war crimes in Gaza.

Unfortunately for Maher, Christian countries actually have a worse record than Muslim countries when it comes to repression. In actuality, the countries that most tolerate repression and violence against women, and also witness the horrors of endless civil war and the use of child soldiers, are overwhelmingly Christian.

To respond to the idea that Christian-ruled regimes are superior, first, democracy and Christianity have no correlation whatsoever and there is no reason to associate them at all. Dictatorships and deeply flawed autocratic states, namely in Africa, have large Christian populations and this does nothing to increase their democratic credentials. On the other hand, Muslim-majority countries like Tunisia, Turkey, Iran, and Syria have managed to hold more credible elections than those observed in some Christian-majority countries like Liberia and Ethiopia.

Second, it is already apparent that political Christianity does result in forms of repression and has no positive effect on democracy, even in Europe. In cases where Europe’s Christian heritage has been politicized, repression has always ensued. We only need to look at Islamophobic politics in France, Belgium and the Netherlands, always brought about by the fixation with defending Christianity, which has resulted in repressing Muslims by banning the hijab.

Third, what business does one civilization have to forcibly change another civilization, or force its own values on that other civilization? When intellectuals in Europe and the United States dedicate their time and energy to criticizing Islam, they are not involved in progressive politics, but imperialism. Theirs is a politics of arrogance, in which they arbitrarily present their own insulated and minimal understandings of culture as a model for another civilization, and go on to support warmongering against other norms of state. This, as with all imperialism, is inherently repressive and leads to open conflict with resistant populations.

If any religion on the Earth is savage and brutal, it is not Islam but colonial Christianity. After it waged the bloodthirsty Crusades against the Islamic world, it relentlessly pursued a course of global domination including the annihilation of the great Aztec civilization and genocide against North American natives. More recently, its adherents in the United States helped to lobby the return of imperialist occupiers to Muslim lands in the form of the American aggression against Iraq in 2003. Even to this day, violent manifestations of Christianity continue to rampage across the world bringing murder, rape, mutilation and slavery everywhere they go.

In most of my writing, it is not my business to portray one religion as superior to another, nor do I myself belong to either tradition, but lies must be struck down. Calling out militant Christendom for the barbarism and stupidity it is may be a necessary tactic to break the delusion of a threat posed by Islam against Europe and the US. Those cultural and religious supremacists in my own country, who embark on a path of arrogant commentary against Islam, have to be made aware of how distorted and false their ideas about themselves really are. Christendom might first explain the overwhelming preponderance of terrorists, drug-dealers, kidnappers, rapists, pedophile priests, and worse from its own congregations before its intellectuals even begin to criticize another religious community.

There is no “civilized” Christendom in Europe and the United States, under threat from a “barbaric” Islam. The kindest thing we can say about this myth is that it is simply false, and presents a dangerously inaccurate starting point for any attempt to resolve violent conflicts and crises of the kind under study surrounding religion.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner


High-ranking psychopaths are pushing for a nuclear war with Russia, seemingly intentionally

If the US leaders wanted to wage a thermonuclear war that would destroy America and the world, we would not be here to talk about it. Presid...

Follow Me on Twitter