Sunday 8 February 2015

The Brazen Corruption of Breakfast

When Bo Rama speaks, you can predict the few things that will happen as a result: his biggest admirers will swoon over how smartly informed and refreshingly thoughtful his comments are; his biggest detractors will bluster about the odious treachery of the same; most people won't pay attention, but when the reactionaries get cranked up, the admirers will be joined by a chorus motivated in just as knee-jerk a fashion by the personality of the reactionaries, though no better informed about the integrity of the comments in question, and with just as deep a disregard for their context.
At the latest annual National Prayer Breakfast, Bo Rama defended Islam from being broad-brushed as extremist ideology by pointing out how people have used the cloak of Christianity for very bad things. In this case, the accuracy of the historical details doesn't matter; the important point here is that the vague notion of "the Crusades" has been buoyed as a result:  as eliciting a trigger as there are opinions about what they were.

A knack for professorial patronization is a benchmark of any president. The degree to which one deploys it should be met with equal scepticism. By restating implicitly that the so-branded War on Terror is a fight against forces who misuse religion for their purposes, Bo Rama advances a basic falsehood that no one in the kindergarten from 5-year-old to faculty is going to question.

The political beauty of the categorical, "Ours is not a fight against any religion." is that it is absolutely true, even if some may disagree. The big lie, however – that this or any war has anything to do with trying to keep people safe from oppressive ideology – remains customarily unexamined.