Satan, Great Satans, and Other Rhetorical Conceits

First some semantical shorthand:

Our communication climate is such that we have terms that serve double meanings. People love to play fast and loose with a number of these, including Christian, Fundamentalist Christian, Islam, Liberal, -just for starters.

Let’s take ‘Fundamentalist Christian’, since that is one topic at hand. This is a term with both religious and political meaning, although many people have started to substitute Christian Right for the political term. Usually for the scare factor: two for one, Christian [shivers] AND Right [shades of fascism].

But what is the religious meaning for Christian Fundamentalist? One who takes the fundamentals of the faith seriously: a strongly literal view with a core belief as defined by the Apostles Creed. As opposed to the the deconstructionist view.

I call myself a Fundamentalist Christian based upon that last definition. I believe the whole concept of Christian Right is a rhetorical conceit rather than a true set of Christian belief and action.

But -wow- what a powerhouse punch that term gets in propagandistic rants. Wow.
And that, dear reader, is where our story truly starts.

GrumpyGirl asked me a question, “perhaps you’d like to tell me where i got wrong what was drummed into me? ” concerning her statement,

when you’re raised jewish in any generation since WW2, everything about the holocaust is drilled into you constantly. that, too, is another story for another day. what i’m really getting at here, is that i was raised as millions of others were: to `never forget.’ the theory behind all the drilling was quite simple: if we never forgot, it would never happen again.

well, i haven’t forgotten, and my friends haven’t forgotten, and it’s happening. it’s happening in other places all over the world, but it’s really easy for us to look in the other direction. but it’s starting to happen here, and that’s frightening me. people here, in america–me, for example–are losing our rights to practice, or not practice, our the religion. what used to be a country of mainly christians, with other religions thrown in the mix, is now a christian country. i wonder how long i will be welcome here. as it stands, i’m apparently welcome here now, only it’s not feeling so very welcoming. in fact, it’s feeling quite the opposite.

I would very much like to tell you, not what was wrong with the drill, but what you failed to learn from it.

Persecution of groups don’t materialize out of thin air. They are the results of vilification, purported evil conspiracies of said group, and directing fear and anger towards people just because they are identified as part of a creedal or racial group. That is what sets the stage for mindless persecution; I say ‘mindless’ because the rhetoric and the widesrpread acceptance of its presumptions pre-empt further thought. You don’t want that auto-pilot initiated, believe me.

And the Jews who know the drill ought to know that more than most. I think most of them do, but I also think that mob emotion is strong enough to short-circuit ones better judgement. And lots of the political rhetoric from the Left is downright condusive to mob rule. There is a lot of the radicalization and the emotional fear-driven buttons that get pushed on that side of the political spectrum. It makes for loyal, if unwise, followers.

It is no better to castigate Fundamental Christians as a group or for being a group than it is to castigate Jews or even Muslims on that premise. It is not right and will not lead to right. Ever. It will given enough momentum lead to persecutions of people for their creedal, and can racial be far behind?, membership. Instead of targeting the wrong in a position or in actions advocated by that group.

If you follow the latter course of criticism you can possibly persuade, or at least expose the faults that society needs to examine.

It is this eschewing of vilification and force that I believe the drill of holocaust history should produce. the brave stand for rights, even if it is your oppositions rights, to exist.

It is not OK to castigate Fundamental Christians with no fair trial of factual support. You have issues? Outline those issues and go for it without vilifying everyone in the group.

It’s the hate labeling that gets everyone in trouble. That is what leads to stars on your coats and concentration camps. and I hope we all keep that in mind and upfront so it truly will never happen again.

2 thoughts on “Satan, Great Satans, and Other Rhetorical Conceits”

  1. you know something ilona, i give up. with you, i quit. there’s no winning. you twist everything i say, and don’t get what i’m saying.

    if you go back a few days on my blog you’ll see a poem by martin neimoller, that pretty much sums it up. and if you don’t believe that, then there’s nothing left to say.

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