Letters for the end of the year

220

Racism?

“Sorry Ed – I usually agree with your subtle asides and perceptive observations, but your suggestion of ‘locking up Menard‘ misses the point. No clear-headed liberal-thinking person can support most of his right-wing policies and pronouncements, but the Muslims’ decision to ‘protect’ churches by monitoring passing cars could be seen as a provocative act in itself. As soon as Muslim leaders allow Christians to build Anglican and Catholic churches in their countries, I will have more respect for a religion whose dogma will not allow it to rest until it has gained world domination. Is this a ‘racist’ comment? “

Ed: Thanks for your comments.  I understand that it’s hard to be supportive of “a religion whose dogma will not allow it to rest until it has gained world domination”, and as you’ll have read, I’m no fan of dogma in any of its forms.

But, I wonder if it’s the rhetoric which we both object to more strongly? Just type “Is Islam evil?” into Google and you can see how the debate rages online.

If Google had existed in the Middle Ages (bear with me on this one), and we’d typed “Is Catholicism evil?” I have a feeling that we would have seen a similar range of views.

It is undeniable that various individuals and groups, over the centuries, have fashioned and shaped religions into tools with which to pursue their own aims, and sadly more often than not with disastrous consequences. I would argue that the current situation is no different.

So, to the point about “Muslims protecting Christian churches”. One perspective on the event is that of non-violent, “good” Muslims wanting to stop radical, violent, “bad” Muslims from making their own lives worse [by destroying the churches visited by their neighbours]. These “good” Muslims are every bit as angry about the “bad” Muslims as the rest of us; they feel betrayed by their fellow worshippers using their religion as a war-cry.

So, in the midst of all this conflict, I am struggling to find a single way in which Ménard’s comments might actually help the situation. In his tweet he essentially accuses ALL Muslims of being arsonists, i.e. capable of destroying the very churches which some of them had decided to protect. Personally, I find that kind of malignant rhetoric offensive, inflammatory, bigoted and yes, racist.

Is your comment racist? Is it racist to base your respect for a religion on the conduct of its leaders? I wouldn’t have thought so, although it might be considered a bit unfair on all of its followers.

In parallel, is it racist to have deep reservations about the Catholic church because of the systemic abuse of children in its care, and the decades long conspiracy to cover up those crimes? Not racist, but it probably wouldn’t be fair to damn an entire religion because of the behaviour of a powerful minority.

I stand by my comment that I would happily see Ménard locked up, or at the very least removed from office. I know that Ménard was elected through a democratic process, and as Thomas Jefferson said “The government you elect is the government you deserve” but I can’t shake off the feeling that we need far, far better leadership than he can ever provide.

Thanks from readers

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Please keep up the good (and entertaining) work…and Thanks!”

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