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Grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. Richmond, El Cerrito, Berkeley, Oakland. My time now is mostly spent getting better at being a person, refining my time management skills, trying to read normal people books and articles, and learning how to be a force for good.

T1D Life in full effect. 

I will never stop learning, nor will I stop working to make a difference for someone.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Larger Implications of Terry Jones

The Terry Jones Quran-burning fiasco is troubling to say the least. Not in just the immediate sense of, "how could this jackass use this time of remembering a tragedy to further racial and religious bigotry and hatred," but also in giving the news media and our politic a way to pass over the discussion of everyday racism in the United States.

Terry Jones is the pastor of a very small congregation. He does not have hundreds or thousands of followers (read: minions) with which to move a lot of hatred capital. He now has international attention, which is of course absurd and sickening in the same moment. He also has fostered the hateful shift toward insanity in the name of righteousness and "Godly" belief that many people, and I couldn't say exactly how many, believe to be their god-given right. That national and subsequently international media has jumped all over this scumbag says a lot, however the fickle ways of our current media institution is for another post. It's sad, and mostly for the reason I will now discuss.

That Terry Jones could be categorized as a backwoods nut makes the case for racial and religious bigotry in our nation to be attributed to crazies and whackjobs. He's obviously too wrapped up in his attention-getting enterprise to realize what he has done. Although, if he did realize it, he'd probably be okay with it. My point here is this: we're just starting to see major players in the media and politics begin talking about racial and religious bigotry, hatred and mistaken fear in a way that really addresses the issue. The truth that most Americans don't want to face is that our entire society is built upon racism, and the many facets of our political realities, educational institutions and social organization are guided by this reality on a very basic level. We have been climbing up this very big hill upon which our future as a loving and self-realized nation rests. And now, we have a nutcase to blame for fear, anger and societal unrest.

This could end up a serious blow to our national discussion of where we are and why we think what we think. The damage that the media frenzy around this asshole may have caused, could be the case that people were hoping for. It's not the everyday person that thinks these wacky thoughts, it's just the weirdos. This is not true, and could undermine the very important work of those looking to lift up the rug covering our cultural inadequacies regarding equality and collective understanding. But we now have a way to compare the everyday epistemic leaps that an average person may make about people who observe the Islamic faith, to this nutjob and those who sound and think the way he does. Many people can quickly and easily equate Islam to violence, thanks in part to media as well as public institutions. (Both Christianity and Islam share a belief that non-believers are lesser folk, and violence is kind of implied in both in a number of ways. I do think that decisions about whether or not someone ascribes to the faith is handled with much more decency in Islam, but that is beside this larger point.) That we could write that off in the wake of this emotional and psychological terrorist is disconcerting, and unfortunate. We must continue our efforts to evolve and understand ourselves, no matter how much we don't want to.

This whole thing seems mighty convenient. The conspiracy theorist in me wonders: did someone pay him to put on this show? I don't actually believe that, however it is a possibility. I will say, that given the state of affairs here in this nation, his public display of intolerance and systematic degradation of an entire nation of people took a sharp turn in recent hours. If he is so convinced that the Muslim faith itself is evil and of the devil, why the change? The minuscule possibility that the Islamic community center a few blocks away from the site of the Twin Tower attacks might be moved farther away from the site of the attacks presented itself, sort of. However, his entire basis of burning the Quran, a book that many believe is the word of God, was that it supported evil. He actually said that moderate Muslims should support his plans, which is ethnocentric as well as nuts. Not to mention that thinking 9/11 is a Christianity against Islam fight is missing the greater point altogether anyway. So, was he really that scared off by the outrage he might have felt in the spotlight? I doubt it. What's the real deal, Ter?

I'll never make light of what happened on 9/11. I've never been convinced of any storyline, whether sanctioned or marginalized. That being said, what happened was tragic, and this fucker not only took advantage of it, he did his best to spit on the collective soul of the United States. He not only should be ashamed, but he should feel enormous guilt at having provided our leadership (both media-based as well as political) cause to back away from the very real and consistent ways that inequality, bigotry and racial and religious prejudice is an undercurrent in our society. If you believe that God punishes the wicked, you're in for a real treat big guy.

2 comments:

  1. It's frightening what people are willing to do in the name of God. Much of the controversy surrounding Jones made me ill. My biggest hope was that the average ordinary person would recognise in their gut that what he was planning was inherently wrong at the gut level. Maybe this reaction (and consternation that this was how America as a whole was being represented to the world at that moment) would cause people to actually think and examine their own feelings on the subject, for themselves.

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  2. Hopefully an internal dialogue would be useful, however we as a people aren't taught to examine our own biases honestly. I think that's the biggest issue that I tried to touch on. Good call on wrong at the gut-level though. Agreed.

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