Sunday, February 26, 2006

The I. C. Fumes Again

The Irate Codger still marvels after all these years at the knavery, deviousness, and, when it suits his purposes, the unctuousness of George W. Bush. E.g., on the blowing up of a golden-domed Shiite shrine in Samara. This despicable act was, he said yesterday, "an affront to people of faith throughout the world." Who does he suppose blew the thing up, atheists? In Bush's fantasy world, the Great Divide of the modern age lies between People of Faith (good) and the Unbelievers (degenerate, cynical amoralists). On one side the God-fearing; on the other those who sneer at the Almighty. On one side, Family Values; on the other, perverts and deviants, and those who embrace their sick "lifestyles."

So it simply can't be that those who blew the shrine's roof off were Sunni fanatics for whom the shrine was a detestable symbol of "idol-worship"--i.e. the Shiite veneration of "imams" descended from the offspring of the marriage of Ali, Mohammad's son-in-law, and the Prophet's daughter Fatima--- veneration for which, Sunnis believe, there is no justification in the Koran. Or so I gather.

Bush can never acknowledge that fanaticism and intolerance are inseperable from religious belief. Thus his pathetic mantra--not heard in some time, actually--that Islam is a "peaceful" religion, when in fact it is the most militant of the three great monotheistic faiths and by far the most insistent proselytizer. Muhammad's stern command: Submit or Die (I've been reading the Koran of late, 150 pages so far in the Penguin edition, so don't try to tell me I've misunderstood.)

It's not just Muslims, of course. I remember the Serb bombardment of Dubrovnik fourteen years ago. That unbelievably beautiful city, the creation of the Venetian Republic during its centuries of glory, was being slowly smashed up by Serb artillery, and the churches, monestaries, and basilicas seemed unusually unfortunate. It was almost as if the Serbs were aiming at them. As indeed they were. Those buildings were Catholic and the Serbs are Orthodox. Nuff said. Of course, in Bosnia-Herzegovina the Serbs were just as systematic in destroying mosques and synagogues.

Then there were the religious Zionist fanatics in Jerusalem who plotted to tunnel under the Temple Mount (or Abode of the Faithful, is it?) to blow up the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa mosque in one glorious detonation, thus bringing to an end an affront to the Jews and their Yahweh of fourteen centuries duration. And who can forget the Taliban zealots who could no longer endure the affront to Allah of those two giant Buhddas carved into a mountainside in northern Afghanistan fifteen centuries ago, and so, in an act of profound piety, blew them up?

No, George, we atheists have no enthusiasm whatever for barbaric acts such as these. In fact, we tend to be cultured folk who venerate such buildings of whatever faith, who come to admire them, to sit silently in them for some minutes meditating, and before stepping out into the daylight again, to drop a few bucks in the collection boxes for the preservation and restoration of them.

What did Bush say at the end of his 2003 State of the Union address, just before invading Iraq? "Freedom is not America's gift to the world. Freedom is the Almighty's gift to every man, woman, and child on earth." I think that was it. So Bush, the Almighty's modest "messenger," as he styled himself to Bob Woodward, brought the Almighty's gift to Iraq. The trouble was, there was already an Almighty there. In fact, two of them. So you had the Texas Almighty, and then the Sunni, and the Shiite. The Sunnis and Shiites, after fourteen centuries of mainly living and letting live, are now ready to Get It On! Let's r-r-r-Rumble!! The curtain is about to rise on Bush's most extravagent production yet, "War of the Gods: The Final Showdown." Or perhaps, "The Mother of all Civil Wars."