So this clip popped up a few weeks ago, and I had no idea it was going to become so topical, but that just goes to show you what I know.
One of the things that has still not filtered into the discussion about who Joseph Kony is and what he represents is the extent to which his religious beliefs fuel his actions. Joseph Kony, to all appearances, is not a person who is casual about his religion. He does not appear to have anything like the model of belief that the anti-Gnu faitheists wish to portray modern ‘sensible’ religion as – self-effacing and private, with ritual and symbolism for community purposes. No, Mr. Kony is sincere in his mindless zeal, and truly believes that he is on a holy mission from Yahweh to liberate Uganda from the clutches of Satan or whatever his deal is.
I mentioned this yesterday, but I thought it deserved a bit more fleshing out, with a bit of help from Mr. Limbaugh. Rush’s characteristic blind ignorance is actually instructive in this case. What we see from him is more or less the thought process that the general public is having right now – Christianity is good, Kony is evil, therefore the religion doesn’t play a part. It is no surprise to me that nobody describes him as a “Christian terrorist” or even “Christian extremist”. We have no (or at least less) hesitation calling them Islamic extremists (when “Islamist extremist” is probably more accurate, but whatever) – why the double standard?
It’s because of thought processes like the one Rush models – an inability to critique the beliefs that we hold ourselves, coupled with a refusal to entertain the possibility that someone who sounds like they’re part of “us” could do something so horrendous. And yes, the hosts of the Young Turks are right – someone should have done some basic research. The fact that they didn’t reveals (in addition to Mr. Limbaugh’s complete lack of competence) the power of the blind spot. He didn’t do the research for the same reason that the papers and viral videos aren’t talking about why the LRA has that name – because it easier to maintain one’s self-concept without having to examine if one’s own beliefs could take them to that dark a place.
Christopher Hitchens likes to relate a challenge that he was once given: to honestly say which would make him more nervous if approached by on a street – a group of men fresh from a political meeting or a group of men leaving a church service. Neither is a particularly appealing scenario, I suppose, but whereas political movements often force one to confront opposing positions, religious ones intentionally suppress any kind of critical thought. I suppose I will share Hitch’s answer in this regard – religion’s tendency to make us morally blind lends us license to do any manner of evil, and to ignore it when done by others who share our creed.
Like this article? Follow me on Twitter!