Monday, September 17, 2012

Christ, I am pissed.

Recognize that?

It's the Piss Christ. A photograph taken in 1987 by artist Andres Serrano. The photo of a plastic crucifix submerged in a glass of pee-pee pissed a lot of people off. Particularly since the artist was supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, read 'your tax dollars.'

It was also named a winner at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Arts. Critic Damien Casey gushed, "the photo questions boundaries between the sacred and the the is an intellectual investigation, a realignment of boundaries, that provokes as it titillates."

Only an effete elitist could perform those kind of verbal gymnastics about a potty gag.

As you might expect, when the photo appeared, there were protests, vandalism and even a few death threats, none of which came to fruition. Notably however, crazed Christians were not rioting in the streets. Embassies were not burned down. And standing diplomats and military heroes were not dragged into the streets and brutalized.

Onto the Jews.

If you were to log on to Memri (an admittedly pro-Zionist website) you would see a collection of videos from all over the Middle East that have been translated or subtitled for your consumption. There are 3576 videos. Many of them more offensive than the Piss Christ. And more vile than the youtube video, produced by a Coptic, that is currently sparking violence across the planet.

In addition to your everyday Holocaust denial, there are videos of prominent Arabs claiming Jews run the world, Jews use human blood to make matzo, and that Jews are the cursed descendants of pigs and apes.

I've never seen a pig mating an ape, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't spend good money for the experience.

My favorites however are when they cart out the poorly made Mickey Mouse characters to poison the 4-year old minds of  young martyrs to be and get them to say charming things like, "Jews are evil. I want to kill them all." What did Art Linkletter say, "out of the mouths of babes come gems."

The point is, I and millions of grown adults in the Western World, can view this offensive material, compartmentalize it and file it in the part of the brain labeled: Shit That Doesn't Matter.

That type of discernment does not exist in the Muslim world, where thousands have put on their angry faces (do they have any other?) and gathered in the streets to shout Allah Akbar at anything that moves.
All over a crappy youtube video that even art critic Damien Casey would have a hard time justifying.

Of course that moral outrage is somewhat cheapened when you consider that in the past year,  25, 000
innocent (and Muslim) Syrians have been murdered by the Assad regime. And these rabble rousers chose to do nothing about it and went about their business of smoking hookahs and eating falafels.

I know the Middle East is a region of stunning contrasts. You've got 22 countries, 350 million Arabs, sitting on the world's largest reserves of petroleum and literally trillions and trillions of dollars of untapped wealth. And yet there is massive unemployment, staggering illiteracy and generation after generation living in poverty.

It makes me wonder.

Wouldn't the time spent burning American and Israeli flags, hanging effigies of Obama, storming embassies and consulates and killing innocent Americans, and just destroying everything in sight, be better spent building roads, schools, hospitals, incubating technology, promoting tolerance and establishing trade relationships?

You know, the kind of endeavors that could move the Arab world from the 7th century to at least the 17th?


Yama said...

I agree, tribalism is one of the most infuriatingly tragic pathologies of humankind. The kind of tribalism that leads to the production of hateful propaganda like the videos you've decided to spend an inordinate amount of your time viewing. The kind of tribalism that leads articulate, educated individuals to dismiss entire segments of the human race as "smoking hookahs and eating falafels" while their fellow citizens are massacred. The kind of tribalism that becomes so ingrained in our reflexes and senses that we become obsessively attuned to the outrages and provocations and wrongdoings inflicted only on "us" – whether us is Jews, Arabs, advertising professionals, or compulsive swimmers. Me, I try to resist tribalism rather than insisting that my strain of it is less virulent than my falafel-eating fellow man's strain. It's hard, but at least I'm trying.

glasgowdick said...

Yama, thank you for your healthy dose of dissent. And good luck with your resistance to tribalism. But for the record, my strain is less violent. And unlike many of those possessed by political correctness, I have no problem saying so. It's a little something I call moral clarity. And it would go a long way in a region that sees the illustration of a cartoon as more heinous than the murder of fellow human beings.

Yama said...

The argument that your strain of tribalism is "less violent" is an empirical claim. I'm not sure if it's correct, because I haven't counted the civilian death toll from Israeli combat operations and supply blockades vs the civilian death toll from Islamist terrorism and riots. Nor do I care to. Nor do I care to entertain arguments about whether the former violence is more or less justified than the latter. This is a dark, dark path that your "moral clarity" and brave rejection of political correctness is leading you down. I'm glad for your sake that the comfortable sunniness of the L.A. suburbs keeps you from seeing just how dark.

glasgowdick said...

Yes, I'm the one living with blinders on. You win.

Berk said...

Yama, I can commend your "trying". You may wish to throw good manners onto your trailer of resistance as well.