Thursday, July 19, 2007

Molon Labe!

I sometimes get upset with the way that language is misused. I think we all do to some degree or another. Certainly I've met enough Brits that get really bent out of shape over "Tires," "Center" and "Color" that I think I'm justified in thinking many people have an idea, even if it is a fuzzy one of what proper grammar, usage and spelling should entail.

Many words have, through slang or sloppy usage lost any semblance of their real power. I could make a couple of corny jokes about the lost attributes of love, gay, wicked, or any of probably 1/2 a dozen other words. But I'm not. I'm going to pick on one word. Actually I'm going to pick on two forms of one word: racist or racism.

It strikes me that racism in the proper context has everything to do with skin color or more properly ethnic heritage and nothing to do with religion or culture. Some NAZI, I've forgotten who, maybe Goering said something very much along along these lines when he said and I'm paraphrasing here; "We hate Jews because they are Jews not because of their religion" (This is one of those quotes that I wish I'd kept a source for.)

I bring this up because I've been watching a DVD of the the movie "300" about the Spartans against the Persians. Some Mullah in Iran objected to this film because it showed the Persians, modern day Iranians, getting their butts kicked by 300 Greeks until a Greek traitor showed the Persians a way to get behind the Greeks. Somehow, I'm not really sure how, this was considered "an affront to Islam" even though none of the characters in the movie were Muslims and Islam hadn't been invented yet , but this Iranian guy just had the vapors with righteous indignation.

Well, since 9-11, as an expat-American; I've made it my patriotic duty to watch any movie or buy any book that Muslims object to. Salmon Rushdie? You bet. Those cartoons in Denmark? I've seen them all! I'll see Evan Almighty when it comes to town with the beautiful, smart, hardworking, looks 25 years younger than she is wife. One of the reasons I want to see this movie is, in addition to looking like it is hysterical, because some Islamic clerics in Malaysia objected to the film because God is played by a Black man, Morgan Freeman (My second favorite actor behind Russel Crow) He said the the movie is an "Affront to Islam" Holy Cow, if it offends a significant percentage of Muslims somewhere that's good enough for me.

So how does this relate to racism? Easy. I've been, from time to time labeled a racist because of my views on Islam. In reality, nothing could be farther from the trues. I don't hate Muslims or anybody else with the possible exception of George Steinbrenner because of the way he ruined the game of Baseball. I don't care what anyone's skin color is, what their parentage is, where they live or anything else. I don't even hate Islam. You can't hate hate an idea. You can only disagree with it and I do. Vehemently so. I disagree with every tenant of Islam. I disagree with it in principle and practice. I wish that it would simply die out and it would if the countries where it exist would stop maintaining it by force. Whatever the crimes any other religion has committed pale in comparison to the barbarism practiced by Islam.

But, disagreeing with Islam as a religion doesn't make me a racist but what might be called a culturalist. I believe that in most ways my Western culture that stresses liberty and tolerance is superior to Islamic cultures.

All cultures and all nations have a set of myths that people believe but that are not necessarily true. George Washington and the Cherry tree. Abe Lincoln walking miles to return three cents he'd overcharged a customer in his father's store. French fecklessness and so on. Some of these myths such as Honest Abe returning the pennies and other times they were constructed out of whole cloth. But they all serve to define a national or cultural heritage. They represent what we, the citizens of a place want to believe about ourselves, or nation, our culture. That is why we preserve them. Or, in some cases discard them, because what we are as a people has changed.

One these myths that has served Islam well is that Medieval Islam societies were more advanced than those in Europe. That they were more tolerant and so for and so on. I think that if we were to look closely and objectively we'd be able to see pretty fast that this myth is exactly that; a myth. Not that Medieval Europe or China were a cream cake by comparison, they weren't but Islamic societies were just as bad or worse.

But, even if the myth of Islamic cultural superiority were true in the past, that's not what Islam is today. I refuse to be immolated, or more likely have my head chopped off for not being a Muslim. I refuse to allow a backward, woman hating, intolerant bunch of scary guys with beards and AK-47's tell me what to do, believe or eat.

But I digress. This was a movie review.

I enjoyed this film. I liked it a lot. Yes, I know it kind of glossed over the unsavory elements of Spartan society. But this film had everything else going for it; blood, sex, treachery and bravery,on one hand and honor and the desire to do the right thing in the face of overwhelming odds on the other hand, everything. The fact that some Islamics in Iran objected to it was gravy just as the the old Monty Python film "The Life of Bryan" was more fun because of Southern Baptist protesting against it.

I wouldn't recommend it for little kids or Canadian pacifist but everyone else should enjoy it.

Molon Labe in deed!

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The movie watching non-Islamic Blogger


Anonymous said...

>I disagree with every tenant of Islam.

Perhaps you should be described as an infidel?

And doesn't the Koran say that ifidels should die.

As I've always said, thank God I'm an atheist.

Fai Mao said...

"Doesn't the Koran say that Infidels should die."

Yes it does. My views on Islam are one of the reasons I try and avoid going to nations like Malaysia