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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The global industry of outrage and stupidity

When French philosopher Bernard-Henry Levi wrote his tribute to Ambassador Christopher Stevens after the ambassador was killed in Libya, he concluded, "This time, the imbeciles have won."

The country he had so ardently defended and the city of Benghazi, which he had helped to save and he so loved, proved his undoing. Ten years after the death of Daniel Pearl, another American who respected Arabs and Muslims and who admired, like Christopher Stevens, the wisdom of true Islam, Stevens fell victim to the same fanaticism, the same blind and tragic barbarism. The United States has lost an ambassador. The Libyans have lost a companion and a friendThis time, the imbeciles have won.

People who cover international news speak of the industry of outrage in the Muslim world. It is a means through which one small group exercises influence and control over others.  They use indoctrination from childhood to keep their masses ignorant and free of reasoning and critical-thinking skills so that they can elicit desired behavior upon demand.  Like suicide bombings and attacks on consulates and embassies of countries who do not subscribe to their bigoted dogma.  The industry of outrage is not, however, limited to Muslim countries.  We have our version of it in America. It's the corporate culture and its Republican priesthood.  Radical Islam has its imams; we have our corporations.  They both foment outrage to get their dupes to do things against other people.  

The ostensible motive in the uprisings against America in the Middle East is the crude and utterly stupid video titled "The Innocence of Muslims,"  which you can view below if you can tolerate profoundly and genuinely stupid and crude videos.  There is some question about whether the attack that killed Christopher Stevens was motivated by the film or was, in fact, a planned attack by some kind of anti-American cell in Libya.  It was probably both.  Those who would attack America have consistently shown that they are shrewd enough to take advantage of events to launch their attacks.  

However, columnist Ross Douthat zeroes in on the real motive and portent behind the ostensible demonstrations against that crude film:

 What we are witnessing, instead, is mostly an exercise in old-fashioned power politics, with a stone-dumb video as a pretext for violence that would have been unleashed on some other excuse.

This has happened many times before, and Westerners should be used to it by now. Anyone in need of a refresher course should consult Salman Rushdie’s memoir, due out this week and excerpted in the latest New Yorker, which offers a harrowing account of what it felt like to live under an ayatollah’s death threat, and watch as other people suffered at the hands of mobs chanting for his head.

What Rushdie understands, and what we should understand as well, is that the crucial issue wasn’t actually how the novelist had treated Islam’s prophet in the pages of “The Satanic Verses.” The real issue, instead, was the desire of Iran’s leaders to keep the flame of their revolution burning after the debacle of the Iran-Iraq War, the desire of Pakistan’s Islamists to test the religious bona fides of their country’s prime minister, and the desire of religious extremists in Britain to cast themselves as spokesmen for the Muslim community as a whole. (In this, some of them succeeded: Rushdie dryly notes that an activist who declared of the novelist that “death, perhaps, is a bit too easy for him” would eventually be knighted “at the recommendation of the Blair government for his services to community relations.”)
It is difficult for Americans to understand why the idea that the President did not stop this insult to Mohammed can enrage a bunch of Muslims.  It is also difficult for them to understand that other countries and cultures do not have America's First Amendment protection of free speech and do not comprehend the reasons for it.  

Underlying the turmoil and outrage is a theological difference between Muslim and Christianity.  Jesus Christ, the historical person, was one of the greatest, most influential political philosophers of all time.  He instructed his followers to love their enemy and turn the other cheek when affronted by assault, verbal or physical.  He instructed his followers to make  peace, not war.  Of course, that part of Christian theology is largely ignored by the neocons who lay claim to Christianity as their motivating creed.  Mohammed has some caveats about that making peace business, and says it may be necessary, according to some Imams, to take up arms in defense of their religion and its people.   

While some in American insist upon their right to freely practice their Christian religion, they deride and condemn those Christians who take Christ's words about peace-making as sissies and unpatriotic, subversive appeasers and deviants.  God is great, you know.

The GOP has also honed the business of outrage to manipulate the capacity for rage in its minions.  They are very  adept at locating the words that can trigger rage, take them totally of context usually, and repeat them over and over again to excite the slavering mob.  Mitt Romney's entire campaign is based upon inducing slaver.  That is one of the motives behind the constant stream of stupid that comes out of his mouth.

In being stupid, he establishes a kinship with a huge bloc of voters and relates to the people in this way.  He capitalizes on the  tradition of Palin and taken up by nearly every potential candidate in the Republican primary, except for Jon Huntsman.  What is so frustrating about the progressive in dealing with Romney is that they always preface their criticisms of him with the statement that he is a smart man.  Smart people do not constantly say stupid things.  Stupid comments are the prime symptom of a mentality that has limited sentience.  Mitt Romney is a dolt.  And that is precisely his appeal to those he appeals to.  

Americans who marvel at the capacity for outrage, ignorance, and stupidity in the Muslim world are, like Romney, obtuse about the stupid in their own milieu.

And if you love stupid, you will love looking at this video.  If you are somewhat educated, discerning, and literate, you are advised to avoid looking at it.  It will only remind you that the human race is losing the battle against ignorance and stupidity. 

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States