Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Two things of concern have penetrated the thick shield of my general indifference this week. The first is some of the vocal (and murderous) responses to the Pope’s recent speech at the University of Regensburg.

I am generally of the opinion that most of the Muslim faithful are moderate and civilised, but their fundamentalist wings really seem to have been given their head this week; calling for beheadings, ‘days of anger’ and talks of crusading conspiracies in response to what was a fairly academic/philosophical speech. The Pope’s use of that particular quote from the Emperor’s Conversations could be seen as provocative as it certainly wasn’t necessary to make the point for which it was used but, in my humble opinion, the reaction has been way over the top – to the point of being scary.

The real concern though should probably be that when people like me start getting frightened like this; that’s the basis for your Holy War right there. As soon as the Christian middle-classes start to dwell more on the extremists than the rational majority, you really have got the foundations of a Crusade! Not a direction I want to see us going in.

The second cause for concern is the coup in Thailand. Although it’s looking now like it will be a peaceful transition and (who knows?) they may even hand power back to elected representatives when they say they will, the concern is that it was seen as the best way to deal with the problems affecting the government at all.

Thailand has been a fairly democratic country for the last decade or so and yet here it is; constitution set aside and tanks surrounding government offices.

Democracy takes a long time to really take root. It isn’t the first election which shows that it’s happening; nor the second, third nor fourth. You need at least a generation, possibly two, for the democratic idea to become instinctive, for the idea of a coup to be too wild to accept in any but the most unlikely situations. Our leaders would do well to remember that before proclaiming ‘job done’ in Iraq or Afghanistan.

1 comment:

Gay Dad said...

Muslim fundamentalists seem to follow the same path in the Mid East as the Christian fundamentalists do here in the US. Latch on to some insult/outrage, whether real or perceived and blow it out of proportion. Then add in the various media outlets who appear to only have the goal of "reporting" the only most sensational headlines, with dubious background check or follow through. Makes a volatile mix, raise havoc and convert the believers of your faith into rabid followers of you.
Secondly, I thought you described yourself as a monarchist, why this concern over democracy. It is entirely likely the coup would probably not (have) succeed (ed) without the King's approval or acquiescence. If a cult of personality exists toward a beloved father figure, action by a small group against a democracy (which are always pissing off multiples of different people at the same time) is always possible. (Another reason to fear the religious fundamentalists, fortunately Pat Robertson and the Pope are pretty much charisma free).