This essay was written for publication on September 11, 2002.
Once upon a time, a midget hated a giant.
The giant had the most access to riches in the village, by far. The midgetís people controlled most of the wealth in the entire world (oil and gas), but a tiny elite hogged almost all of it for themselves.
The giant freely gave gifts to almost everyone in the village. The midget took the giantís gifts and despised the giant even more.
The giant was very popular. Almost everyone wanted to dress like the giant and play with the giantís toys. The midget was certain that he was a better person than the decadent giant and that he deserved the giantís riches, power, and popularity far more than the giant did.
The giant was committed to freedom. The midget and his people were committed to a religion whose most fundamental principle was theocratic totalitarianism.
The midgetís religion promised that it was the most
perfect religion that had ever been or ever would be. The midgetís god promised
that everyone in the Universe was predestined to burn in Hell for all eternity,
except for midgets and a few of their women possessions. The midgetís god commanded
all midgets to force others to accept his religion or kill them.
Sura 3:19, 5:3,
3:110, 55:77, 85:21-22 (perfection), Sura 57:22, 7:179, 87:2-3, 4:151,155, 9:51
(predestination), Sura 9:4-6, 3:83, 4:91, 2:191-93, 8:39, 8:65 (divinely sanctioned
murder of unbelievers), and a rock-bottom minimum of 100 similar citations on
the three topics (I stopped counting).
Note: Qu'ran references
The midget decided that his god would be best pleased by the destruction of† the giant. For more than ten years, the midget put sugar in the giantís gas tanks, burned down the giantís tool sheds, and smashed the giantís garden statuary. It seemed as though the giant hardly even noticed the midgetís existence ó which only made the midget hate the giant more.
So one day, without provocation, the midget took a sword and chopped off the giantís toe. Then the midget ran into the bramble forest and hid. The wounded giant, with the help or sympathy of everyone in the village who wasnít a midget, burned down the house of the midgetís evil landlord. This didnít make anyone feel much better, except (temporarily) the land≠lordís female possessions.
The giant is searching the bramble forest, but itís not much fun (that stump still hurts), and the midget has every motive in the world to stay well out of the giantís reach.
I have no idea what will happen next in this story. Any peaceful overtures from the giant would merely convince the contemptuous midget of the ultimate success of his evil plan.
In an ideal world, the midget could be brought to understand that what he did was wrong, to sincerely apologize and to make amends. But the midgetís hatred is such an obsession that he is deaf to everyone except other midgets. The other midgets say the hate-filled midget did not cut off the giantís toe, that it was actually done by the giantís homeboy. All the midgets hate the giantís homeboy, because the homieís religion gave birth to their own, and yet the homie still clings to it rather than recognizing the perfection of the midgetsí religion. They also hate him because he lives among the midgets and manages to be more successful than they are (with their perfect religion) ó even though theyíre all trying to destroy the homie, or at least want to. The midgets are certain that the homieís success could only be the giantís doing.
In other words, since this is not an ideal world, atonement and reconciliation would take a miracle. All we can do is seek justice. Meanwhile we must guard against another attack and work at getting the midgets to understand that terrorism is evil in the eyes of any god worthy of the name.
And we must do it while resolutely declaring to the entire village that our quest is not about vengeance but justice, and that religion has nothing to do with the situation. If this were about religion, the giantís friends would accuse the giant of being a bully and a gorilla. Soon everyone in the village would be getting into fistfights and one of the giantís legs would become spastic and start kicking the other leg.
Moreover, it really isnít about religion; thatís just the toe-chopperís rationalization. True practitioners of the midgetís religion take it seriously. The midget and his minions enjoyed such giant entertainments as strip joints, karaoke clubs, and, in Florida, lap-dancing. There is nothing in the midgetís holy books in favor of strip clubs and lap-dancing. The toe-chopper and his closest friends (including the evil landlord) practice not a religion, but an ideology, one closely similar to Marxism-Leninism and virtually indistinguishable from fascism.
This being the case, I think that the giant should not get distracted by the red herring of religion distasteful as the midgetís strange ideas are to those who have not been indoctrinated from birth about their god-given perfection.
The giant should focus on fighting fascism disguised as religion. An international coalition should insist on the benefits of freedom, equality, and mutual respect over the midgetís totalitarianism and oppression.
And p.s., you jerks: Women are people too, and I donít give a flying fig what Sura 4:34, 2:223-28, and many similar citations teach otherwise.†
3886 : 05Jul02
Mary W. Matthews