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Sunday, 2.5.06: Religion As Angel Dust
Sunday seems to be my "to hell in a handbasket" day. But, really, is there any good news in the world?
I heard about the Danish cartoons and the Moslems flipping out over them from the Secret Sharer, one of my longtime readers, who lives in Denmark. The American press doesn't care much about "foreign" news, but now that embassies are burning, they have good visuals.
I keep my eye on Europe. For a while I was thinking they had the right idea about life and could serve as a beacon if the American empire collapses under its own Christian totalitarianism.
After the ashes of World War II, Europe made some conscious choices to forget past evils and embrace the future. The taxes are high, but the social safety net is wide. People get decent vacation time. They don't carry guns and they don't execute criminals. Knowing how religious can rip at the fabric of society, its nations are deliberately secular.
The riots in Paris revealed that Europe, like America, has its issues with luckless minority groups who feel like European prosperity was built at their expense.
And now the uproar over cartoons.
I'm usually on the side of the underdog. At first you're tempted to tell offended people to get a sense of humor, but then you realize that, when someone's on the bottom rung of the ladder -- or not on the ladder at all -- they don't think teasing is funny.
Still, it isn't your average Moslem going apeshit over these cartoons. Cynical leaders -- whether Moslem or Christian -- are the ones who frame everything as a clash of civilizations, as culture war, or as the first step toward genocide. They whip young people into a froth and incite them to do things the leaders would never think of doing themselves.
Marx said religion was the opiate of the people. But it is more like the crack cocaine, the angle dust of the people, making them all crazy angry, while the leaders line their pockets with silver.