Friday, March 03, 2006

Christian persecution: The foreigners versus the locals.

Hmmmmm ... I think a quick clarification is in order here. Apparently, I didn't make it sufficiently clear (and that was my fault) that my contempt back here was aimed at the foreign missionaries involved (that would be the Texas-based China Aid Association mentioned in the article, and others in general), and not the locals (about which more shortly so don't go away).

I suspect that I'm not alone when I suggest that one can despise meddling Christian evangelists without similarly disliking the locals to whom they're preaching, so for that misunderstanding, well, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. But wait. This brings up an interesting point.

If you didn't know any better, I'll bet you'd think that all of those right-wing wanks who moan on and on about Christian persecution in other countries actually, you know, care about those foreigners. Or at least you would think that until you did some research.

As an example, when it comes to the right-wing media, it doesn't really get any more right-wing than Fox News, does it? So, naturally, you wouldn't be surprised that Fox News would be concerned about the persecution of "unregistered" Christians in China, as described back in this 2002 news piece. Yes, you'd think that Fox News and its founder, Rupert Murdoch, were incredibly, incredibly concerned about these unfortunate victims.

Or at least, you'd think so until you read this piece at the Center for American Progress which describes how, in order to break into the Chinese media market, Murdoch happily tossed those folks overboard:

Time Magazine reported that while Murdoch is supposedly "a devout anti-Soviet and anti-communist" he "became bewitched by China in the early '90s." In an effort to persuade Chinese dictators that he would never challenge their behavior, Murdoch "threw the BBC off Star TV" (his satellite network operating in China) after BBC aired reports about Chinese human rights violations. Murdoch argued the BBC "was gratuitously attacking the regime, playing film of the massacre in Tiananmen Square over and over again." In 1998 Chinese President Jiang Zemin praised Murdoch for the "objective" way in which his papers and television covered China.

Yeah, a true defender of human rights, that Murdoch, until it might affect his bank account. Gotta understand your priorities, ya know.

Oh, and news coverage of this recent persecution of Chinese Christians? Perhaps I just couldn't find it but, as far as I can tell, you won't find a hint of it anywhere over at Fox News. Feel free to prove me wrong.

BONUS TRACK: Oh, and let's not forget that the same Bible-thumping, pious, devout loons who yammer on and on about all those unfortunate persecuted Christians are the same lowlifes responsible for oppressive crap like this.


The American Anthropologist said...

I think your readership is disappointed because we thought as liberals that you would support that people do have deserved rights, which should be put into law and made an entitlement, and also that the government should allow people to exercise them.
Certainly you can't quote Tom Delay on religion as he has no soul. Ditto Rupert Murdoch as he is clearly the antichrist.
But someone who comes from Texas in order to get cattleprodded by the Chinese government *does* have a soul and *is* fighting for the liberal ideal of an deserved, entitled, and exercised right to freedom of religion. So even if their soul is retarded, and they would suppress everyone else's rights if they gained power, we support their efforts to further the cause of justice

CC said...

I see your point and if I thought these foreign evangelists were going over there to make those peoples' lives better in general, I'd have no argument.

However, in the majority of cases I've read about, the only freedom these evangelists give a crap about is introducing and defending the freedom to practise Christianity, and little else.

With exceptions, of course, these people don't go abroad to promote womens' rights, or access to clean water, or an end to sweatshops, or a prohibition on child labour. No, their prime driver is the freedom for those poverty-stricken locals to become Christians.

As I said, there are of course exceptions to the rule but, as examples of what I'm talking about, why not just look at the disgusting opportunism of Christian aid organizations and evangelists who descended on Indonesia after the tsunami?

Start here, and let Google do the rest. In particular, read about "Samaritan's Purse" and its loathsome head, Franklin Graham, who couldn't wait to get involved in the aid program, even while describing Islam as an "evil and wicked" religion, and publicly stating that, as part of his aid plan, he hoped that the tsunami victims (at least the survivors) "would come to know the God I know."

Like I said, there are always exceptions but, with too many of these parasites, it's all about preaching the Gospel. Anything else just happens to be a convenient vehicle to help that along.

Jim Royal said...

"The American Anthropologist" hits the nail on the head, CC.

Your lengthy discussion about innate versus legal rights is a red herring. Your claim that you were actually referring to the Texas-based China Aid Association is a red herring.

Your original post expressed glee at the idea of Chinese dissidents being rounded up and poked with electric cattle prods. You characterized civil disobediance as a "stupid thing." And why? Because these were religious dissidents who deserve no sympathy "when the inevitable bad things happen."

Your position is about as far removed from liberal principles as you can get.

CC said...

Mr. Royal writes:

Your lengthy discussion about innate versus legal rights is a red herring. Your claim that you were actually referring to the Texas-based China Aid Association is a red herring.

Your original post expressed glee at the idea of Chinese dissidents being rounded up and poked with electric cattle prods.

Ah, I see. And pay no attention to that almost immediate update of mine back at that original article in which I wrote (in part):

That the Chinese government is not happy with Christian evangelists is no big secret ... Those people know what the consequences will be and yet they insist on evangelizing anyway...

Why, yes, let's ignore my numerous and obvious references even in that original article to "evangelists," shall we?

Sorry, Mr. Royal. What was all that about a "red herring" again?

CC said...

By the way, Mr. Royal, I'm getting a little miffed with your unseemly talent for literary misrepresentation.

You write:

You characterized civil disobediance as a "stupid thing."

No, I didn't. Here's what I wrote, as the last paragraph way back there:

In short, if you choose to do stupid things, a lot of people aren't going to feel sorry for you when the inevitable bad things happen.

Now, if you care to actually go back and read that in the context of what precedes it, it should be clear that, once again, I was talking about religious evangelism.

In fact, I never used the phrase "civil disobedience" anywhere in that article. You did, so it's just a little tacky to hold me to account for a phrase that never even appeared until you submitted a comment.

I'm hoping you don't make a habit of this, Jimbo.

Jim Royal said...

Your point is not defensible, CC.

So what if these religious dissidents are evangelists? Why does that fact single them out for your special ire?

In rural areas of Pakistan, the Shia Ismaili imam is opening secular schools in an attempt to bring education to very religiously conservative populations. While the Pakistani government permits this to score brownie points with the west, they make no attempt to stop the attacks against the schools by Islamic extremists. Are these educational aid workers doing a "stupid thing" because they are evangelizing western-style education?

In the US, if the creationst movement is successful in legaly eliminating evolution from schools in some states, will teachers who evangelize Darwinian evolution be doing a "stupid thing?"

When protesters march at world trade conferences all over the world and evangelize fair trade instead of unrestrained unregulated trade, are they doing "a stupid thing" that warrents mass arrests?

You can't be a dissident without evangelzing your ideals. Whether that is religious, political, or scientific evangelism, the point is to push forward with the idea, otherwise what's the point?

Like it or not, the religious evangelists in China are a liberalizing force. Just because you don't like the evangelicals you have encountered doesn't mean that you are justified in sitting back and chortling while these people are roughly handled by an opressive government.

You don't actually know anything about these people, except that they are Christians trying to make space for themslves in their own country, something their government is preventing them from doing. BY DEFINITION, this is civil disobediance. You paint them wth the same brush as you do ignoramuses like Ken Ham or Michael Behe, not because of similarities between them, but because of your own reflexes.

Anonymous said...

Heading where angels fear to tread - the comments section of a political blog.

It seems to me that the original point was this: The mantra of many on the right is that we are fully responsible for the consequences of our own actions. If we get ourselves into a mess, it is our own fault for getting there. A right wing group would thus be hypocritical for protesting the consequences of actions known to be dangerous. Note that the relative merits of the dangerous act are not in question. If you know that what you are doing could get you into trouble, you have no complaint when that trouble finds you.

Take, for instance, this sentiment about the wave of anti-abortion legislation:

(from Digby)
West Jordan Republican Sen. Chris Buttars scoffed at McCoy's suggestion that the legislation might force teens to other states for abortions or into their bathrooms to attempt the procedure on themselves.

"Abortion isn't about women's rights. The rights they had were when they made the decision to have sex," Buttars said. "This is the consequences. The consequence is they should have to talk to their parents."
(end Digby)

Let's ignore for the moment the cases where that "choice" was coerced.

It doesn't matter whether they should be free to proselytize, or whether religious freedom is a good thing. It doesn't matter whether the cause is just. If the argument of personal responsibility is to be internally consistent, it has to be applied across the board. To be consistent, they should be praising the courage of these folks to be martyred in the name of their faith, not complain about their being wronged or mistreated.

The whole bit about what rights one has, is entitled to or deserves is irrelevant to the basic premise that the demand for responsibility for one's own actions is being selectively applied.

CC said...

Some excellent points here, only one of which I'll address at the moment.

It seems to me that the original point was this: The mantra of many on the right is that we are fully responsible for the consequences of our own actions.

And the hypocrisy of this position is best observed if you look southward. While harping on about how everyone should exercise "personal responsibility," the Bush administration has never convincingly taken responsibility for anything that's happened on their watch.

The terrorist attacks of 9/11? Hey, no one could have imagined that people would use airplanes as weapons.

The insurgency in Iraq? Hey, who knew there would be such a stubborn resistance?

The debacle of Hurricane Katrina? Well, no one could possibly have expected the breeching of the levees.

Shooting an old man in the face? Hey! He shouldn't have snuck up behind me, but I accept his apology anyway.

Not their fault. Never their fault and, by the way, George Bush still can't think of a mistake he's ever made as president.

"Personal responsibility." It's for other people, you know.