Why not being able to blog about religions means we probably have to settle for crooked pastors, dodgy monks, witch doctors and UFO crackpots!

April 10, 2009

“Never talk about religion, race or politics! Never.”


If you are wondering whether this time honored warning sounds reminiscent of how our government expects all bloggers to conduct themselves in the internet – well spotted old chap! And there are compelling reasons to suggest, why adhering to such guidelines would even serve us well. After all it doesn’t take the lateral to see how raising up contentious issues such as religion, race and politics often brings out the multi headed hydra of resentment, prejudice along with fanning hatred for the “other side” (besides its lousy for your personal insurance premium). It’s a scene that only gets played out too often these days. In denigrating cartoons which poke fun at Prophet Mohammed to even podcast making fun of Moslems by asking them whether they serve pork in a halal eatery (that just proves conclusively those racist who did it have an IQ of 5 index points below idiot!). Or when authors stray as they often do into religion, race and politics as Salman Rusdhie discovered when he publish his controversial tome, the satanic verses which earned him in a posthumous fatwah and a one way ticket to Tehran.


What’s vexes me no end is; where does the line between religion, race and politics really start and where does it end? If it were simply a longitudinal truism that should do very nicely (thank you very much) to tell us what we can and cannot discuss. Others may claim, its common sense. The only problem is, there is nothing common about religion, race and politics and it makes even less sense. That’s only true if you believe ordinary objects, words and even a something as simple as name are divorced from all notions of religion, race or politics. The fact remains a whole world resides in the seemingly benign and ordinary. Even the ubiquitous French fries aren’t immune from being a cipher of the fractional minutiae. I remember they were re-baptized as “freedom fries” by American eateries 7 years ago to protest against the French stance against the Iraqi war. What’s even more extraordinary is this semantic fatwah lasted for nearly three years! No folks, it’s not easy to stay well clear away from religion, race or even politics not even when you are minding your own business munching quietly away on artery clogging hamburgers and French fries (sorry freedom fries, I mean).

Nor does sticking to the staid and trite offer any security either: I am of course talking about literature that oasis of reason where even fellow detractors have a modicum of decorum to agree to disagree. Eventually every discussion about literature leads invariably to the proverbial, “what’s behind the brick wall?” Existentialism which questions personal freedom against the oligarchies: how personal freedom can be reconciled with notions of command and control? Somewhere along this discussion that pesky gay Alan Turing is bound to crop up along with fatwah leaden Salman Rushdie clutching a tome of “satanic verses.” That’s the cue for the Ayatollah brigade to start chanting, “death to the great satan! death to the great satan!”


Yes, it’s dangerous to talk about books. We should be more specific and stick to only children’s books. They are safer, less likely to stray into the taboo domain of religion, race and politics. Anything unhinged from reality would be better than the serious enterprise of literature. Fairly tales are good, science fiction and fantasia would take us even further away from the feral world we live in to other planets. Surely no chance of religion, race or politics cropping up like demented Jack in the boxes in lalaland is there? But wait, errh wasn’t RR.Tolkien a fascist? A racist? In the “Lord of the Rings,” the evil Orcs are, in Tolkien’s words, are “squat, flat-nosed, sallow-skinned, with wide mouths and slant-eyes” (that just about describes everyone in my household except me along with 99.9% Asians living in the Greater Pacific). The enemy is the Dark Lord and he lives in the Black Land. The heroic protagonist and elves are, by contrast, undoubtedly blond, blue eyed and uncircumcised Aryans. Ideals of ‘blood’ and racial purity are always sloshing around Tolkein’s seemingly innocent narrative. For example, the Men of Gondor – “the high men” – are descendants of the Numenoriuns, the greatest of all warriors. Over the centuries, they have become ‘degraded’ because of breeding with inferior races. No Tolkien wasn’t a closet Nazi, he was simply lamenting the disappearance of racial “purity.” After all we all have a right to voice our anxiety about being swamped by non-Europeans, don’t we? Like poor misunderstood Hitler, Stalin and Idi Amin, Tolkein there were really just being true to themselves by being real traditionalist. Along the way of course they just bumped off a few million “inferior races,” build death camps and persecuted anyone that was remotely different from them! Yes folks see what I mean even keeping to trite fairytales doesn’t guarantee one the prospects not straying into religion, race and politics!

Lament I do but wait……do I see a light? An oncoming freight train? No a beacon – I am saved! Yes, movies will do very nicely, why didn’t I think of that earlier? After all they are all “make belief” right? So divorced from reality, we have even coined the phrase, “like real?” Obviously a reference to the reality of reality and the illusion of reality, one which I am sure you would agree movies embodies the latter. Not only are we just going to keep the discussion to movies, but we are going to gut the religion, politics and race out of it all as well. That means no “babel” or Oliver Stone’s “Fahrenheit 9/11,” too incendiary (it will just bring down the building!). Besides the former has peek-a-boh reference played by a mute confused girl which are clearly suggestive of metaphor to describe the silent suffering of comfort women controversy. Though how it’s precisely related to that concept I am not quite sure, but you get what I mean anything to do with a mysterious black box has negative connotations. Besides it’s too dark there and after all we may all be lost in the forest only to fall into a hole. So out goes “Babel,” and in comes antiseptic controversy free: “The sounds of Music.”


Can’t go wrong with squeaky wire brush clean Julie Andrews and “Doe Rah Mi” yodeling midgets can we? No chance of controversy here, after all she plays a catholic nun. You can’t get safer than that can you? No chance of religion, politics or race entering into the storyline either – it’s a wholesome family yarn about the benefits of yodeling, starch collars and why nuns choose to wear curtains instead of real clothes.


Wait a second the sounds of music. Eerh wasn’t that set in Nazi Germany? In a little in breeding enclave somewhere in the Bavarian Alps, none other than the spiritual locus of the Nazi creed, where Adolf Hitler even built an Alpine retreat called the Berghof. And near by the Untersberg, a peak said to contain the immortal soul of the King Charlemagne, who had conquered most of Christian Europe in the ninth century—a role model of Hitler’s and one for whom he felt a mystical attachment too.


In reality, the hills were certainly alive with the sounds of music along with of the yelps and screams of Jews as they were marched off to concentration camps. As for Julie Andrews and the benign sauerkraut gobbling nuns; they weren’t as innocent as we are led to believe either. Since Vatican’s complicity with the Nazi’s even managed to earn their CEO, the happy title of “Hitler’s Pope.”


No I am afraid the sound of music doesn’t quite cut it in the controversy free department. It’s far too racially and politically volatile, we simply have to bid, “Auf Weidersehn” to those insufferable Nazi saluting singing good to boot midgets.


I guess nothing these days is controversy free, not if one has to interact with the world, community and people. One element of maturity is the realization most of us we don’t necessarily seek out controversy for the sake of controversy. Granted there are racist, bigots and even the terminally illiberal and righteous who believe they have the right to talk down to people or dictate how others should live, behave or even think, but fortunately, they are in the minority.


For the vast majority of humans – most of us are simply trying not to give up on ourselves and others. All too often we’re hoping that we are doing, saying and thinking the right things. Though sometimes when I try too hard by smiling at strangers in the MRT, I come across as a crazed suicide bomber or worst still a Prudential insurance agent trying to hit my monthly sales quota. (trust me I prefer the former, at least they have to decency to go off in a flash, while the insurance agents keeps hounding, stalking and squatting outside my doorway).


Most of us are just trying to make our lives worthwhile, not only for ourselves, but also for our loved ones and the broader society at large – It’s a subtle and slow process fraught with all sorts of hazards – reaching out often is. One always runs the risk of rejection or coming across as awkward. All too often we may declare those who have different views from us are hopelessly incorrigible and simply choose to cut ourselves from them. So there we find ourselves, where I am in my silo, you in yours and the greater they, in theirs. Each to his own to fashion the known world, each nurturing their own prejudices and illusions as to what represents the truth.

Why? Because we daren’t touch of on those subjects where angels fear to thread religion, politics and race. Is it such a wonder that we continue to amble along like the blind wondering why we cant even make sense of the times we live in? Or why we still continue to fear the things we do.


(By Astroboy & Keith Ho / Socio / Politics / Satire – EP 995438- 2007 – The Brotherhood Press)


Hey did you miss out on this BP article? This is generated by our new auto-bot crawler – check it out The Incredible Koreans


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