Ah, that toxic confluence of religion and politics again!
I’m always astonished at how stupid America is on the world stage. Specifically, if you’re the crappy actor in the play, you shouldn’t be surprised if you get the rotten tomatoes thrown at you. And America is the crappy actor.
We like to pretend that our War for Independence was a revolution. We like to believe that we are the greatest proponents of democracy the world has ever seen. We like to think the we are the world’s good guys. We like to think this even though we have invaded more countries than any other nation since the Third Reich. We like to think this even though we keep our Chinese-made bootheels tightly held, via proxy, on the faces of millions of despotically ruled human beings.
Why this inability to see who we are? I believe it is tied to the survival and, indeed, vibrancy, of Christianity in the United States.
Christians believe that Jesus was killed because he preached love and forgiveness. Now just think about that for a minute: he was killed by crucifixion, a manner of death reserved by Romans for the lowest of criminals, for the exquisite reason of his goodness. If you think this makes sense either historically or theologically, you have a serious problem with distinguishing fantasy from reality. Jesus was killed because he overturned tables in the Temple of Jerusalem during the week of Passover. That was a particularly bad idea on his part, because Jews from all over the known world were in Jerusalem and needed to trade their own money for some currency they could use in Jerusalem. They needed to buy sacrificial animals blessed by rabbis. All this was taking place in the Temple. When Jesus overturned tables, he undoubtedly scattered these pilgrims’ pieces of silver all over the floor, causing what surely must have been quite a ruckus that did not, obviously, redound well to him. Hell, if it were my money that he blew away like that, and if I had just gotten to Jerusalem on my once in a lifetime journey of 140 miles, I would have crucified him then and there.
It was those people who called for him to be crucified, and with justification, in my opinion.
So here we have America, believing that the Muslim world hates us because we are good — and we have no trouble believing this because we have no trouble believing Jesus was officially executed as the lowest kind of criminal precisely because he preached love and forgiveness. Okay, America, face the hard truths that are open to anyone who does not shut the door to our most precious human faculty: our ability to deliberately think things through, reasonably.