I came across a supportive illustration for my views on the development of how regularly rational people come to justify their persecution of others in a most unusual place: a movie my children were watching.
‘Mean Girls‘ is based on the book ‘Queen Bees and Wannabees: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends and Other Realities of Adolescence‘ by Rosalind Wiseman, a non-fiction book. On the DVD, there is an interview of Wiseman and she is remarking about the process of vilification. You might want to read through More About Movies, a review which highlights some of the dynamics.
Because we are talking about below-the-belt power plays. We are talking about making our side look better through the vilification of others.
And all this has been going on in the media play of Terri Schiavo’s plight and demise.
For sometime now I have been observing the villain image making of “The Religious Fundamentalist” which has spawned “The Religious Right” character. I have sometimes been known to use that for its shock value in introducing myself into online message boards. Hi! I’m a Fundamental Christian 🙂
It sort of draws the dross to the surface. Saves time, so that we can more quickly slice through the ad hominem arguments of an issue. And address the bias and misconceptions up front.
But what I do not find funny is the wild and wooly broadbrush stereotype propagators. I think they are downright dangerous, even if they are unintentional. Maybe more so if they remain ignorant of their effect.
Then we are in “Elder of Zion” territory.
Americans might not be so far from pogroms and mob incitements as they might think. It depends upon how vigilant we prove to be in confronting propaganda and defamatory language in the public forum.
Every religion has its history of improper force. Much of our idea of improper force comes from the Christian ethic. Christian religion shouldn’t impose itself upon people, by its own tenets, although we know that has been violated in history.
Strangely though, our definition of “imposing” is transposing into “holding”. The very idea of holding ideas and talking about them is becoming the new “imposing”. So that our definition of prison and torture is now public expression. The atheist is tortured by the inscription upon a judicial building….. or a statue of Moses.
Despite the fact that this is a more restrictive prison of thought control. PC policy at its finest.
Now our insistance for human rights for Terri Schiavo is somehow a religious imposition of a “Culture of Life”.
Still, there are those who will see nothing wrong in judicially imposing requirements for medical treatment of a child’s cancer against a parents wishes; sometimes the same ones decry the call for a clearer allowance for Terri’s parents, the Schindlers. They don’t want the court to intervene that way, on that side.
Arbitrary. All depending on who holds the power, which philosophy base has the loudest voice. And it is the media who is the mediator for most of these cases nowadays. We have moved into an increasing “morality by 51% majority”. Now there is a situation rife with the potential for inequity. Mob rule.
I partially blame judicial activism for that. The judicial portion of our government has increasingly allocated power to its own branch- and become increasingly subjective. An oligarchy in the making. So people -who are told that the power is collectively theirs, are using their voice to be heard, as they can, in the media.
Yes, America is divided. Whether in an orderly way worked out by its Constitution remains to be seen. I am hopeful. On the basis of past history and the strength of our system I am hopeful.
What worries me are those wild and wooly hotheads gone amuck. A little sharp criticism to rein them in is in order.
Perhaps the blogosphere to the rescue? I submit Hugh Hewitt’s “Hating the “Religious Right” Should people of faith also be allowed a say in the law-making process? for your consideration.
The problem is that if we can paint a caricature of someone as grotesquely evil, we can rationalize eliminating them- or at least punishing them. That starts with word choices and humiliations, it continues into propaganda and callousness to mistreatments of them. By that time we are far down the road to becoming prone to great injustices.
The Nazi Regime was not the result of the evil of Germans, it was the result of the inhumanity of man to man which took a specific and unrestrained pathway. We ought to look at that pathway and the landmarks along the way that we might avoid ever going there again.
The similarities of our present rationalizing of the dehumanization of other human beings is part of the path we must avoid. This is part of why our view of the Schiavo case is important.
We can’t decide that someone else’s life is not worth living. Not even if we imagine ourselves as feeling that way about our own.
Maybe we are so used to hyperbole being used that we are inured to propaganda. Maybe we have bought into ideals of the master race, or of an intellectual aristocracy. Have we? Do we so despise the ‘least’, and are we so arrogantly sure that none of us or our own will come under that designation?
Is our sense of humanity presently consisting only of our potential to perform and produce?
If so, we have become the machine. An impersonal and meaningless machine. Cogs to be used and then thrown away.
Yet, we cannot accept that. So why will we deny the compassion and the value that our humanity demands of us? What are we exchanging that for in this debate?
I am reminded of a Bible verse:
Free yourself from the chains on your neck,
O captive Daughter of Zion.
For this is what the LORD says:
“You were sold for nothing,
and without money you will be redeemed.”