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Cartoon logic when extreme forces 'know best'

Cartoon logic when extreme forces 'know best'

Author:
Publication: Irish Independent
Date: February 9, 2006
URL: http://www.independent.ie/unsorted/features/cartoon-logic-when-extreme-forces-know-best-112128.html

In 1966, Robert Kennedy told an audience of 'a Chinese curse' that goes: "May you live in interesting (i.e. dangerous) times". He ruefully added: "Like it or not, we live in interesting times." Two years later he was gunned down.

His phrase has entered the lingo despite the fact that it's not Chinese. We too live in interesting times where cartoons can cost lives. It's weirdly fitting that a cartoon character coined the perfect made-up Chinese word to describe the forces now at work.

In one Simpsons episode, when Homer gets into another gormless bind, Lisa comes to the rescue saying: "Dad, the Chinese use the same word for both 'crisis' and 'opportunity'."

"Yes," exults Homer. "Crisatunity!"

In recent days we've seen Islamic hardliners manufacturing a crisis in order to create an opportunity.

They've even trumped up the original charges of blasphemy against Mohammed by adding inflammatory material that never appeared in Europe's papers. It's a dirty trick, but one learned from the invasion of Iraq where a lack of real evidence was 'no problemo'.

There's further evidence of a dangerous 'crisatunity' developing in South America, following Donald Rumsfeld's declaration that democracy in the region is under threat from, um, democracy.

Ticking off that continent's voters for repeatedly voting the wrong way, Rumsfeld reminded us that genocidal maniac Adolf Hitler and Venezuelan reformer Hugo Chavez have much in common. He underlined the "worrisome" fact that both carried the popular vote. The threat to 'bad' democracies was explicit.

The shrill illogic of the rival Islamofascists and NeoCons show them to be more alike than they'd ever admit. There is no reasoning with either, no room for open debate, because they know best.

Despite much evidence to the contrary, the Catholic Church in Ireland still knows best. Twelve years back, it was confronted with an unwanted 'crisatunity' from within. The Church journal, Intercom, ran a feature urging the bishops to tackle clerical child abuse.

The crisis was about to explode in public. Intercom's Fr Kevin Hegarty urged the hierarchy to seize the opportunity to act in good faith.

He later revealed: "Shortly after the appearance of the article, a senior bishop offered to mark my card."

Fr Hegarty was effectively removed as the editor of Dublin-based Intercom, and consigned to his isolated, sea-sprayed parochial house on a bleak Mayo mountainside. Four years ago I called on him there and couldn't help but think of the outcasts of Craggy Island banished to that remoteness by Bishop Brennan. Except that this was no laughing matter.

There is a persuasive argument that we in the West will buckle to the demands of militant Islam because they know what they believe in while we don't any more. We don't make a stand because, valueless, we're filled with self-loathing.

Don't look to the Catholic Church because it's part of the problem, not the solution. It spurned the opportunity to face the abuse crisis and has spent a decade fighting a mean-spirited, legalistic rearguard action which has left its moral authority in tatters.

Now purged of dissidents and free-thinkers, the current Intercom contains an unsigned attack on Liz O'Donnell TD for "plotting" to destroy the Church's power.

Scandalously, it devalues her concern to protect children as "hyped up". Most arrogantly of all, it criticises Irish society at large for failing "to place clerical abuse in its medical and social context".

So we're all really to blame. Does that include the abused children themselves? That leap of logic is just a tiny hop. Just ask Rumsfeld or the Islamofascists.


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