How dare they?

16th March, 2011

The last week saw horror upon horror piled upon the poor Japanese people. It has also brought creeping from dark, wet and dangerous places, the most awful kind of religious bigotry and nastiness.

I cannot begin to tell you how disturbing I found it to see the multitude of otherwise quite sensible people on Facebook and Twitter and even on radio drop to new depths of stupidity, schadenfreude and wickedness to explain the devastating pictures we all witnessed from Japan:

“They deserve it. Their whaling and killing of dolphins in that movie ‘The Cove’ proves they were due for bad karma!”

“The Japanese aren’t Christians, so our God (sic) is punishing them for their atheism!”

“It’s the end of the world! It was predicted in the book of Matthew (24:7) and also Mark (13:78)! Beware the wrath of God!”

i have chosen only three revolting comments out of many that I saw spread like dung across the unlettered html pages of the internet. No doubt the priests, mullahs, ayatollahs, rabbis and ‘fire and brimstone’ preachers are slathering over the fear that this natural disaster has manifested in their respective flocks. They know that the simple people in their thrall are desperate for some easy explanation that won’t require a careful and studied reflection on plate tectonics or radioactive meltdown to make sense out of tragedy. They especially like an explanation which proves they’re on the right side and the “Japs” were on the evil side. Without so much as a cursory acknowledgement of the vast numbers of Christians in Japan, for example, the bible-bashers leap to the easiest and most self-satisfying conclusions about the way the world works.

I think this kind of barbaric outrage shows the true and menacing face of the world’s supposed purveyors of charity and hope – the ‘religions of love’. The Jewish Pentateuch, Christian New Testament and Islamic Quran present themselves as repositories of great wisdom and philosophy. They also present themselves as the truth. If they are the truth then we may not excise those many violent, hateful, bigoted, racist and damnable parts in each book that make plain their wicked context. These less savoury passages also make the followers of these faiths very uncomfortable – they claim they’re the setting for their ancient foundation and that some parts are more relevant than others. Let there be no doubt – when the shit hits the fan – how they scurry to find the meanest passages to show why they’ve been saved and the rest of humanity is doomed.

The Japanese are proud, dignified people who behave with aplomb despite their world very literally falling down around them. Their stoicism and determination to pull through any crisis should leave no doubt in anyone’s mind that these people are among the best in the world. Self-discipline, honour, and an elaborate and ancient code of social behaviour led the Japanese from the misery, defeat and destruction of a World War (including the most terrible use of any weapons of mass destruction ever unleashed in anger on anyone) to their position as one of the world’s foremost economies and societies. There is more to envy in the Japanese way of life than there is in any hokey baptist Mississippi backwater, and therein, I think lies the rub: The Japanese make the religious fanatics look ridiculous. They outclass them and do it with such ease and confidence that their success infuriates those who dwell in deserts or swamps and cling to verses from books “written” by illiterates back in a bronze age when the Japanese had already invented clocks and the writing code.

I would like to say to those bitter, self-righteous fools who spit hateful condemnation on our fellow human beings in suffering: You have played your cruel and unsympathetic hand. Do not poison the great well of international humanism with your outdated and vengeful religious poison. Nobody deserves natural disasters. Hurricane Katrina, the Boxing day Tsunami and this one in Japan do not help your case for deism. They are the result of great, powerful forces in the unstable crust of a rapidly cooling planet, in an unstable solar system in a chaotic universe. Your explanations ring with untruth like the old assertion that the earth was flat. There is no mystery to these things when you take away the childishness and look at the science. I know you won’t, but then you cannot expect me to take you seriously when you talk about good or love.


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