Friday, September 14, 2012

The Gospel According to Hillary Clinton

Let me be abundantly clear: There is absolutely no excuse, rationale or alibi that justifies violence against other members of the human family -- and faith based violence is categorically antithetical to the core values of ALL world religions.

That said, the events of this week in Libya, Egypt and across the Middle East call us to look at the reality of our interconnectedness as a global community -- and consider how and where we can be agents of peace, justice and compassion: the truly "traditional values" of all three Abrahamic faiths. Here's how journalist Joseph Hanania explains the challenge in a story filed yesterday with Aslan Media:
In what businessmen might call cross-promotion, Muslim fundamentalists spread the word about this Christian fundamentalist video. And Hollywood, with its multi-million dollar promotional budgets, could not have been more successful. As word spread, the video scored over one million hits. The results were just as predictable as shouting “fire!” in a crowded theater.

Amid the smoke, Muslim fundamentalists launched an apparently planned military attack. Four American diplomats were murdered, including our popular ambassador, J. Christopher Stevens, who had helped overthrow the Libyan dictator. American fundamentalists lit the match and tossed that match into the pile. Libyan (and other Arab) fundamentalists fanned the flame as cover for their planned 9/11 attack. The two groups had worked hand in hand to create this result.
So what can we do? Are we powerless against these forces of fundamentalism that infect all our faith traditions? Are we doomed to stand by helplessly as flames are fanned and fingers are pointed while God's dream of a human family as beloved community is unrealized at best and undermined at worst?

Not according to the U.S. Secretary of State -- who offered nothing less than The Gospel According to Hillary in her speech marking the end of Ramadan on September 13:
"Refraining from violence is not a sign of weakness in one's faith; it is absolutely the opposite, a sign that one's faith is unshakable. We can pledge that whenever one person speaks out in ignorance and bigotry, ten voices will answer. They will answer resoundingly against the offense and the insult; answering ignorance with enlightenment; answering hatred with understanding; answering darkness with light.”

"In times like these, it can be easy to despair that some differences are irreconcilable, some mountains too steep to climb; we will therefore never reach the level of understanding and peacefulness that we seek, and which I believe the great religions of the world call us to pursue. But that's not what I believe, and I don't think it's what you believe. Part of what makes our country so special is we keep trying. We keep working. We keep investing in our future."
This is not apologizing for America's values -- this is preaching them. This is the kind of leadership we need to debunk what Ed Bacon calls "the myth of the separate self" and instead build up authentic communities of shared values of justice, peace and compassion. This IS the change we can not only believe in but live into. And it is ours to choose.

So let us "choose this day" to proclaim the Gospel According to Hillary: to answer ignorance with enlightenment; to answer hatred with understanding and to answer darkness with light.


LGMarshall said...

There are thousands of video & print media in cyberspace, that are (extremely critical) of Islam. All of which are very 'offensive' to Mohammad. [Now, Obama's Administration agrees with Sharia Law, which exacts punishment on anyone that hurts the feelings of Muslims re their 'prophet'.] This is like a bad movie, or a bad 'Twilight Zone' episode. btw, has anyone even bothered to look into the life of Mohammad? ...he was an immoral cad, that, ad hoc , re-arranged OT/NT for his own purposes & led a violent life. The God of the Koran, does not hold a candle to the God of the Bible. There is no comparison. This is not Libel, because it is True. Americans love Truth, and will defend it.

JCF said...

Susan, I hate to intrude on this, but I really believe this thread requires Moderation. Speech is Free, but that doesn't mean that you have to host it on your blog. Let the (ignorant? or crazy?) bigot go elsewhere. Hopefully, somewhere w/o an internet connection.


JCF ... I really pondered this one. I do moderate these comments and end up deleting most of her posts.

In this case, however, I decided that this is such a prime example of the dangerously ignornant bigotry unrepentedly held by our own fringe fundamentalists that I would go ahead and post it as a reminder of how important it is for us to witness to authentic gospel values of love, justice and compassion and to "put on the armor of light" by showing what crawls out from under the rock.

I continue to maintain that if all the mainstream Christians, Jews and Muslims would commit to rebut and refute their own crazies they would have increaslingly less traction and the world would be a better place. That's was Hillary was talking about and that's what I'M talkin' about.

Thanks for the question and the opportunity to follow up.

RonF said...

The analogy to screaming "Fire" in a crowded theater has been used to propose holding the producer of the (reportedly rather artless) film responsible for the deaths and property damage that occurred during the reaction to it across the Muslim world. I find that a dangerous and misleading analogy and a poor excuse for forcing our concept of civil rights to conform to the desires of those who have no respect for them at all.

Fire is inanimate. It has no thoughts or emotions. It has no self control. It cannot be reasoned with and blindly consumes and destroys according to simple laws of physics.

People, however, have reason. They have agency. They control their own actions. They can say "We have no right to kill or destroy simply because we are offended." To say that these riots and killings were predictable is equivalent (in my opinion) to saying that if a woman in revealing clothing gets drunk and wanders into the wrong place it's predictable that she will be raped. It is indeed predictable - but that does not make her responsible for the rape. The rapist is responsible for the rape, and the killers and rioters are responsible for the deaths and destruction.

Our Federal officials take an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. From this quote, it appears that Hillary Clinton seems to understand this. Others have offered apologies and appeasement, though. That doesn't help - instead, it gives others hope that they can tear down our Constitution - and the rights it defines and the structure it outlines to preserve them.

RonF said...

"... build up authentic communities of shared values of justice, peace and compassion."

So, then, how do we do this? Because we are faced with a group of people whose culture does not share our values in this regard. Central to our culture and our legal structure is that there are individual rights that larger groups cannot extinguish. For example, no matter how offensive someone's speech may be, no other person and no group has the right to silence them purely on the basis of that offensiveness. But the group of people we have seen on TV recently does not believe this. They believe that they have a right to destruction and murder if they find a particular offense in certain speech. And they claim an explicit right to not be offended, which we reject because many things now accepted as great truths started out as being highly offensive to many people. How do we find shared values of justice and peace and compassion with these folks?

There's another group involved as well. Christianity has fringe fundamentalists, but their actions are strongly condemned by more mainstream Christians and our society has effectively suppressed violence that they may be tempted to commit. But while we do see some condemnation from mainstream Islamic leaders, it doesn't seem all that wildspread. Most importantly, there doesn't seem to be nearly as effective a suppression of fundamentalist violence in their countries as there is here - ironic, since separation of Church and State is non-existent in such countries, so they have much more ability to use the structure of the State to stop this kind of thing. To build a community as you propose with mainstream Islam - which I find desirable - the defense of lives and property against violence from offended people has to be as important to them as it is to us. Why is it not? Why have they not acted?