Monday, April 27, 2009

Why What Happens to the Baha'is Matters So Much

There seems to be no end to the evil towards which absolutism tends. How can there be? When one is right in the eyes of God Almighty, all else seems to vanish in insignificance. So it seems with right-wing Christian fundamentalists. Witness their ridiculous tirades against such "forces of evil" as insuring adequate health care availability for all Americans. Or ponder their war on humanity and our very survival as they grapple for yet more control of the GOP and attempts to stymie efforts to stop a global climate catastrophe. Like all fundamentalists conceptions-- it's all pretty nuts. (Remember how they supported George in the killing of WHO KNOWS HOW MANY Iraqis.)

Lately, my posts have dealt with fundamentalism from the atheist side. Just as dangerous. Read a few of the posts beginning with the 4/6 posting until this one. The "new atheists" (also fundamentalists) have much violence to promote and much hatred to spew. It seems like it just comes with the territory of absolutism-- a phenomenon which certainly, at some point, begins to incorporate religious and/or political authoritarianism.

The "or" of the "and/or" is bad news, but pity the one under the tyranny of the "and." And that is the case in Iran. Of course, every authoritarian regime must have it's "whipping boy." For the Nazis it was the Jews. For the Iranian Islamic crazies, it's the Baha'is.

The Baha'i Faith began in Persia in the mid nineteenth century. It no doubt had it's roots in messianic shi'a Islam, but it soon transcended those roots to become a tolerant faith, embracing the prophets of all the major religions. Baha'is eschew partisan politics and work for global understanding and world peace. Yet, their openness and tolerance, they hardly fits in with the fundamentalist Islamic state, which has legally ruled that they are not a religion, deserve no protections, and have engaged in a policy of killing, arresting, confiscating of Bahai's property, and incarceration.

There current tack is to label Baha'is spies for Israel-- a completely ludicrous charge. Why not, when they have been labeled spies and executed as spies for about every other nation as well? This is religious hate-- pure and simple.

As Roya Hakakian points out, this should carry special concerns for Jews, who have first hand knowledge of such treatment at the hands of their countrymen. The situation has not escaped the noticed of US lawmakers. HR Resolution 175 was proposed in February, but never made it out of committee. Is that because Baha'is represent only a small portion of the American electorate and therefore can be summarily dismissed? I invite all readers to read Representative Kirk's official posting on the situation. He far outdoes me in eloquence. I don't know if he is a liberal, conservative, Republican, or Democrat, but you need to read it. The Resolution likely is more symbolic than effectual. Still, what if masses of Americans raised an outcry-- an opportunity offered by the Resolution? Doesn't morality at times call for moral outrage?

So why does all of this matter to you and me? I could mention that I have a good friend who is a Baha'i, a fellow spiritual traveler, one who challenges my thinking, and is one of the most fair- minded individuals I know. That's all true. Still, it is not, ultimately, my rationale for deciding why this matters. It plays a role, because it tells me something about Baha'is. Still, there are larger concerns. Really, it's simple. Absolutism of all stripes is on the rise. It offers simplistic answers to complex questions. "Just check your brains at the the door, and let BIG DADDY [whoever that may be in any given case-- whether Bush, Dobson and Robertson, or Dawkins, Hitchens, or Harris, or worse (to a degree anyway) hatemongers like bin Laden or Ahmadinejad] do the driving." Only in isn't so simple. And as anyone can see, it is a tree with rotten fruit. No. We must reject the way of the absolutist religious and political zealot and demand a different way. How much more such "religion" can the world endure?

What will you do? Maybe a good place to start is by contacting your US representative.

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