The links in this post are of real-life here-and-now importance, I think, more than most others on this blog. They point to recent radio discussions about Christians in Iraq but their importance is not just for the sake of the people directly concerned, but also for the potential they carry to inform us about today’s role of Christians in the U.S. and some closely related nations.
The first link, Christian Minorities in the Islamic Middle East : Rosie Malek-Yonan on the Assyrians, is a discussion about the ongoing genocide of Assyrians, begun in 1914 and still grinding on today. Why is this not in our headlines and a focus of public outrage? Hitler said: Who remembers the Armenians? in reference to quibbling about a few Jews; not even the Assyrians registered on the radar back then. There is also another slow genocide (cum demonization of the victims and moral and religious superiority assumptions of the perpetrators) under way these last 80 years — similar to the slow genocide waged against indigenous peoples in North America and Australia — in Palestine.
Genocide was defined by the general assembly of the world’s nations in the wake of World War 2 (1948) as:
In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
See the full resolution at http://www.hrweb.org/legal/genocide.html
Any notion of uniqueness for the sufferings of one group above all others does both that group and the future of the whole of humanity a criminal wrong. (Those enamoured with Bauckham’s Eyewitnesses book would do humanity a favour by accepting, and acting on the awareness, that the Holocaust was by no means as “unique” as a miracle by Jesus!)
The other link is to another radio discussion on the same program, Kahil Samir S.J. on Christian Minorities in the Islamic Middle East.
This interview stunned me with what it can reveal about Christianity in western nations, in particular the U.S. admittedly. Compare the types of Christians who are the persecuted ones in Iraq. They are not the anti-enlightenment fundamentalist types. (Maybe many of those types will think any other sort of Christian should expect persecution for being so liberal.) But what is most enlightening was the gradual rise of fundamentalist hostility on the part of a significant sector of the Muslim community — and its place in society — and how instructive it can be to compare that rise and its character with its “more” incipient Christian counterparts in the US and to a lesser extent in the UK and Australia. Compare fundamentalist intolerance in Iraq against enlightened Christian groups with similar religious intolerance against those enlightened in opposing/secular ways in the west.
We cannot understand ourselves apart from our understanding of others, nor others apart from an understanding of ourselves. It’s a tragedy that the fundamentalist believers will fail to understand by virtue of denying or demonizing their own natures as they strive to give up their lives totally for another “parallel reality”.
I know, the fundamentalists are a minority in the U.S., thank god! But being a minority has not been guaranteed to stop the eventual domination of a well-organized and highly committed and generously funded set of such types in other countries throughout history.
You will have to overlook interviewer Stephen Crittenden failure to support his repeated claims to be discussing Christians throughout the entire Middle East when his illustrative material is exclusive to Iraq. And especially his short-circuiting gaffe when he speaks of “generational conflict” between Sunnis and Shias in that country. (Anyone remotely familiar with sources not attached to the likes of Fox or CNN or the Pentagon will know that there was no such “generational conflict”, that Sunnis and Shias intermarried and worked together, etc. Iraq was definitely not the Balkans, nor 1980’s Nicaragua, until Negroponte’s brief stint in Baghdad. Such is the fruit of tactics from past tried and true efforts (Algeria, Nicaragua) to divide a resistance. But that’s a story for my sweetreason blog if ever the time allows.)
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