Originally posted by Leveller
Oh, the poor, generous, loving Hindus.
I guess that the Golden Temple in Amritsar was just a way of showing respect to another religion, huh?
And what about Tamil incursion into Sri Lanka? That's not an attempt to take away land from another soverign nation is it?
And Pakistan? I suppose that country was set up because of the great love that Hindus have for Muslims?
Clueless? I don't think so.
Fanaticism does not begin with provocation, it is bred in the mind, and the homicidal thrill is its inevitable culmination. What I find remarkable is
how the language of the true fanatic so readily employs the charge of provocation in the most unlikely places, constantly seeks out provocation, then
claims that it is the foundation of its beliefs that has been subjected to provocation. The fanatic needs to equate itself with the mainstream body of
belief of which it is only a limb - and a diseased one at that - in order to gather under its banner all true believers and persuade them that the
rest of the world is their enemy. Before inviting you to direct your attention fully inwards and confront this claustrophobic space that we sometimes
think constitutes the entire world, try and recall just one more external product of religious zealotry in the last century, well publicized at the
time but one that may have slipped from the memory of many. It was not many years ago when some Hindus razed down an ancient mosque, tore it down
brick by brick. That incident took place in the Indian state of Utter Pradesh, and took its justification from the claim that this centuries-old
mosque had been built on the very spot where Lord Rama, a Hindu deity, first made his appearance on earth. The consequences of that outrage eventually
led, you may recall, to violent clashes, numerous deaths, a change of government, and a still palpable climate of hate. Among other commentaries that
I made at the time, let me cite some lines from a poem that denounced the sacrilege by those Hindu believers who considered themselves as The Chosen
over and above all others. The extract comes from the sequence titled: Twelve Canticles for the Zealot:
A god is nowhere born, yet everywhere
But Rama’s sect rejects that fine distinction -
The designated spot is sanctified, not for piety but
For dissolution of yours from mine, politics of hate
And forced exchange - peace for a moment’s rapture.
They turn a mosque to rubble, stone by stone,
Condemned usurper of Lord Rama’s vanished spot
Of dreamt epiphany. Now a cairn of stones
Usurps a dream of peace - can they dream peace
In iconoclast Utter Pradesh?
Now, there is no claim in that poem that all Hindus are dangerous zealots or that Hinduism is a violent religion. What was factually indisputable on
that spot in Utter Pradesh was a sordid episode of intolerance, albeit one to be absorbed within a larger historical and social context. An outrage
had been committed, and that outrage deserved to be addressed in its own right. So, when wave after wave of fundamentalist violence is unleashed on an
unsuspecting populace, resulting in the deaths, often in the most gory manner, of hundreds of innocents - men, women, and children – please do not add
insult to injury, do not rub pepper in our wounds or abuse our average intelligence by insisting that those who denounce such an outrage are those who
hate your religion. To equate the insanity of extremism with the very religion that extremism itself debases is an act of gross intellectual
indecency. Extremism, intolerance, bigotry and violence – these are the choices that debase religion and desecrate the memory of the founders of
religions, their prophets and avatars.
Both from within and from without such assaulted religions, our outraged humanity must speak in unambiguous
condemnation of any and all barbarities committed in the name of religion. We are able to do this without damning the religion itself, or belittling
its precepts. It would be the cheapest, and the most intolerable form of blackmail to claim that, because the mass-killers of innocents on September
11, 2001 were moslem, any condemnation of that act equates hostility to the religion of islam. The outside world did not succumb to such cheap
blackmail, neither should we, in this country, when the very fabric of our society is torn apart by the extreme acts, either of the genuine fanatic,
or of fanatical storm troopers in the service of cynical politicians.
This nation is overdue for some blunt truths! Is it really difficult for some who claim the capacity to think, to accept that a huge abyss exists
between precept and conduct? Between doctrine and practice? Is this true ignorance, or a cynical ploy to confuse the unwary? Sometime I have to pinch
myself awake, just to ensure that I exist in the same environment. Was it not within this same nation that we went to battle on behalf of an
unprecedented Moslem-Moslem ticket for the highest office in the land, some of us sticking to that mandate to the bitter end? No, we did not hate
Moslems then. Not a squeak was raised to suggest that our sacrifice was tainted, that there was anything impious or perverse in the position we had
taken. But when a citizen of this nation, equal before the law, calls upon his followers to murder another citizen in the name of his faith and we
call for the laws of this land to take him to task and book him on a charge of incitement to murder, when I declare that it is the height of folly for
anyone to make utterances that imply that it takes murder and destruction to earn respect for one’s religion, suddenly we become saturated with hatred
for the religion of such indicted individuals. It makes one sad, truly close to despair to encounter such a recourse to the cheap politics of hate. It
is a gratuitous imposition, one that is not grounded in the nature of reason but in the nature of the fanatic. It is a ploy to tell this populace, ‘I
claim immunity from both law and public disapprobation because of the inviolate authority of my faith.’ In short, I belong in the ranks of The Chosen.