The events in southern Thailand, New Orleans and elsewhere are horrific and even many of those who survived the tsunami or hurricanes or other disasters will have horrible memories. Some will need therapy. Some – such as the poor – may need it but not get it. Whatever the case, this is a time for people who have lost everything – perhaps even loved ones – to be given comfort, aid, financial assistance, help; it is not the time for nut cases to be blaring out their idiotic ideas and wacko theories on why it happened.
I don’t know about others but I find it somewhat irritating to hear the former king of Cambodia babble about how an astrologer had warned him about impending peril and so he gave money for ceremonies to be carried out and therefore Cambodia was saved from similar destruction. And then of course there is the nutcase Thai astrologer who claimed that the tsunami happened because the present prime minister of Thailand had not called elections or some such nonsense. And then there is the pope assuring those who lost everything including family members that “God has not abandoned you.” Well, all I can say is, if that – the sudden loss of children or parents - is not abandonment by a god, I would hate to see what it looks like when the pope’s god does abandon me.
And the Muslim leader in Indonesia who says that while other structures were destroyed by the tsunami, mosques near the shore remained standing thanks to divine protection; forgetting that they remained standing thanks to the type of material used and style of architecture. Some of the drivel espoused by religious nutcases after the tsunami makes my blood boil.
In fact, lots of nutcases have been quoted in the newspapers saying that God or Allah was angry with mankind (so he had to kill innocent children to make his point?)
I think superstition and fairy tales, etc., have their place in every culture and can even be quite interesting (I’ll be writing about superstition in and outside of Thai bars in the near future); but disasters are not the time to try to spread one’s propaganda or to twist logic in an attempt to make sense of it all. For thousands of years, every time there has been a volcanic eruption or earthquake or tsunami, the nutcases have predicted the end of the earth and how it was all a message from some supernatural being. Well, if you believe that, I have twin towers in New York I’d like to sell you.
And in case you haven’t noticed, the doomsday believers have never been right. And they are not right now. You can be sure when Krakatoa exploded in 1883 – four times more powerful than the recent earthquake – religious nutcases tried to explain it by claiming it as the wrath of some pissed-off god somewhere. And probably claimed that that pissed-off, all-powerful deity was about to make an appearance right here on lil ole Earth. And no doubt when he failed to make his appearance, they came up with some gobbledygook as to why. And what about the billions of years there were no people on this planet but lots of volcanoes, great sea shifts, land shifts, etc. What was God's message then? To whom?
It reminds me of the folks who look upon a water stain on a church window and conclude they see the figure of Christ or Mary and pretty soon thousands of people descend there to have a look. And if enough agree, it hits the paper and lo and behold it is a sign from God. Me, I’ve seen the Cisco Kid and Tarzan and Spiderman and Lenny Bruce on church windows and I once spotted Pocahontas in a skimpy bikini and garter belt and stockings and stiletto-heeled boots making a brief appearance on a McDonald’s window while I was ordering a Big Mac with fries to go, but never a religious figure. In any case, I’ve always wondered why exactly an all-powerful Deity needs to send vague signs and ambiguous symbols every now and then rather than make a personal appearance. Mano a mano. What’s he afraid of?
Then there are the Muslim fanatics claiming that the American Diego Garcia ocean base was destroyed by the tsunami but the Americans are keeping it a secret while at the same time other Muslim fanatics claim that Americans knew the tsunami was coming so made preparations and saved the base but wouldn’t warn anyone else. Yada, yada, yada. These folks need an I.Q. test and therapy to deal with their years of brainwashing.
And, of course, it was bound to happen: Sri Lankan Muslims have seen a satellite image of the tsunami and claim that the Arabic script for “Allah” can be seen in the waves and that is firm proof Allah created the tsunami to punish evil mankind. Obviously, people see what they want to see but why does Allah need to punish innocent children who haven’t even done any “evil” yet? Don’t ask. You might not be able to withstand the twisted logic of the answer and hold down your lunch at the same time.
I wonder, though, exactly how many people have to drown before the nutcases crawl out of the woodwork to claim it was some god's way of punishing evil mankind. I mean, if one person drowns somewhere on a beach, no one claims some god did it as an example that we are wicked and must change our ways. Same with a few people. How about a hundred? A thousand? Or ten thousand? At what point exactly is it a message from some god? And how do they know? Why not 1,437? A good a number as any. I just have a hard time grasping all of this because, for example, a quarter of a million Chinese died in the Tang Shan earthquake in 1976 and no one claimed some god punished anyone.
Then there is the embedded Muslim fanatic columnist of the Bangkok Post who recently quoted some incredibly vague gobbledygook from the Koran, boasting about how precise it was in its prediction. These folks need a vacation. Or perhaps they are on a vacation. From reality.
Right after the flood disaster from Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and vicinities, the nut cases were out if full force: Christian right-wingers said God was angry because Jews were forced out of Gaza; A Philadelphia group called Repent America said God wanted to prevent the gay-pride festival that was to take place that weekend. And you can be sure Muslim nutcases see this as Allah's punishment of "infidels."
Of course, the goal of any organized religion is Control. Make people – especially those vulnerable because of a disaster - feel guilty or helpless and play on everyone’s fear of death and then pretend you have a way to Eternal Life. And if you believe them, they got you. The method never changes. Nor does the mind of a religious fanatic. The spiritual in mankind is a wonderful thing but it should not be usurped by religious propaganda. Time for religious nutcases to call a time out and let the victims of the tsunami and other disasters recover in privacy and peace.
Dean Barrett can be flamed at:firstname.lastname@example.org
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