Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Age of Ignorance

As the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks draws near (Saturday), instead of concentrating on the ongoing ramifications of that horrific event and how much our lives have irrevocably changed since that awful day, we are instead inundated by a rising tide of bigotry and intolerance, from a number of sources.

The debate over the Ground Zero mosque in intensifying, with the opponents seeming to adopt a NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) approach; that is, saying that Muslims have every right to build their mosque, just not where I tell them they can't. There's this huge gray area of "respect" for the innocent victims who tragically lost their lives when the World Trade Center towers collapsed, and I fail to understand how building a mosque somehow desecrates their memories. There are liquor stores and porno palaces within equal walking distance from Ground Zero, I don't know why they are not protested for providing an equivalent level of desecration.

No one is expecting anyone who suffered through that horrendous disaster or lost loved ones in such a senseless manner to ever "get over it," but one of the defining moments of a healthy, vibrant society is how it learns from tragedies and overcomes them. Not forget them, but learn from them. To me the very best tribute anyone could ever make to the 9/11 victims is not to succumb to the blind hatred of the terrorists, but instead rise above it. Don't embrace the fear, reject it. Tell the terrorists: you tried to make us afraid and hate our fellow man; we will not, and just as you seek to pull us apart, we will draw together, in a united front against Islamic extremists anywhere and everywhere in the world.

Then we are subjected to a peculiarly noxious version of religious idiocy as the obviously mentally-ill pastor of some minuscule evangelical Christian cult in Florida has taken it upon himself to make some kind of statement (and as far as I'm concerned the only "statement" he is making is how the mental health system in Florida has failed by not institutionalizing him ages ago) about Islam by burning several hundred copies of the Qu'ran, the Muslim holy book on the 9/11 anniversary. It's impossible for me to see how anything positive could come out of this cockamamie publicity stunt. But what is more incomprehensible is how this batshit-crazy nutjob, who looks like he hasn't bathed in a very long time, could be catapulted onto the world-wide stage by being as stupid, obnoxious and bigoted as he can possibly be.

This "Reverend" (term used sarcastically) Terry Jones is being interviewed by every major news outlet on the planet, and it is a publicity windfall beyond his wildest dreams. It is so indicative of how degraded our civilization has become when someone attains a world-wide celebrity (however briefly) by indulging in the most obnoxious, boorish and hateful behavior possible. Despite vociferous condemnations by representatives of every major religious group in the country, plus the Vatican, this pitiful, angry old geezer is stubbornly going ahead with his insane stunt, just like a spoiled, selfish, socially-maladjusted eight-year-old who throws tantrums to get what he wants, no matter what. Maybe Jones and his wife will take a break from their other occupation, selling furniture on eBay, and realize the complete folly of his actions. But I strongly doubt that, the publicity is too important.

That this grimy little ogre and his toilet-bowl opinions are even being paid attention to at all is directly the fault of the eternally loathsome Sarah Palin, who has succeeded in two short years in making ignorance, mediocrity and stupidity acceptable in the United States. There is barely an eyelash-difference between Sarah Palin and Terry Jones. Consider that:
1. They both have arisen from the garbage- and meth-infested cesspools of backward, primitive parts of the country.
2. They both claim to have religious righteousness on their side and use it to prey on the vulnerability and gullibility of uneducated, ignorant people trying to find some meaning in their wretched, pathetic and pointless lives.
3. They both have been given a world-wide stage to spew their stupidity and idiocy - Palin with her failed vice-presidential candidacy and the racist ranks of the Tea Party, and Jones with this Qu'ran burning and anti-Muslim bigotry.
4. They both take on a populist view, claiming to speak for and to the "average American," all the while laughing and sneering at their followers behind their backs for being too dumb to know when they are being played.
5. They both deny any responsibility or culpability for the consequences of their idiotic remarks, with Palin being uncharacteristically quiet about her "Drill, Baby, Drill" philosophy in the wake of the Gulf oil disaster, and Jones haughtily dismissing any possible danger he may be causing our service men and women in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world where Islam is the dominant religion.

How sad, and how telling of the complete moral bankruptcy of our culture that the most deliberately ignorant and willfully hateful members of our society are the ones who are publicized the most. What immense damage is being done to America's image everywhere in the world when Sarah Palin and Terry Jones are the faces everyone sees and associates with the United States. And lastly, how toxic and poisonous to our own nation and culture when two people can aspire to be the biggest assholes in the entire country, and succeed so well.

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