Movie Friday: Limbaugh on Kony

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.

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  1. jamessweet says

    You’re not doing Hitchens’ answer justice:

    Just to stay within the letter ‘B’, I have actually had that experience in Belfast, Beirut, Bombay, Belgrade, Bethlehem and Baghdad. In each case … I would feel immediately threatened if I thought that the group of men approaching me in the dusk were coming from a religious observance.

    The “Just to stay within the letter ‘B'” part was genius.

  2. theophontes, Hexanitroisowurtzitanverwendendes_Bärtierchen says

    Rush Limbaugh:

    “Lord’s Resistance Army are Christians. They are fighting the Muslims in Sudan. And Obama has sent troops, United States troops to remove them from the battlefield, which means kill them.”

    The LRA were helped militarily by the muslim Sudanese Government (at least prior to partition), in order to kill christian Sudanese. It is the hard core Sudanese islamists means to undermine the neighbouring (again christian) Ugandans.

    He has got it arse about face and is completely out of his tree.

  3. Dalillama says

    It says something a bit depressing about our country that it took the attack on Sandra Fluke to trigger this backlash. Supporting the LRA is unspeakably vile, and should really have generated plenty of backlash by itself. OTOH, I suspect that part of the reason why the Fluke incident got such a strong response is that Rush was attacking a specific individual. It’s easier to feel strong sympathy for a specific individual(s) than a faceless group, especially a faceless group far away.

  4. theophontes, Benign Bullet Dodger in Chief says

    @ Dalillama

    Most of the world only got to know this through the international media. A lot of Limbaugh style poisoning of the airwaves only happens in the USA. It is now on CNN. (Though I learned of it here.) It is great that it is being exposed and vilified, whatever the reasons.

  5. upagainsttheropes says

    F’in’A hilarious. A pig rolling in it’s own irony. I love how he relies on his audience being more ignorant then he is.
    When your on that level of paranoia any results from google that don’t re-enforce your entrenched positions are a liberal conspiracy.

  6. nms says

    I got into an Internet Argument with a Limbaugh listener when this originally aired. Her defense of Limbaugh was that she’d never heard of the LRA, and therefore Rush’s ignorance (misinformation?) was perfectly excusable and the LRA obviously wasn’t of any significance anyways.

    Says it all, really.

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