Gary Leupp, writing with the good folks over at Counterpunch.com ( http://www.counterpunch.org/ ) has an extensive article about the defacing of the giant Buddhist monuments in the Swat Valley with explosives. This sounds like an old story from 2000 Afghanistan, but it happened two months ago in Pakistan. The bearded jackasses of Islam are busy dynamiting the fifteen hundred year old statues of Buddha, without a thought of the tourist dollars they are costing their fellow Pasthun. The Middle Eastern monotheistic religions have this thing about idolatry, and the two sand encrusted sects, Judaism and Islam, pretty much take this as orders on high to ban any depiction of animals, especially Humans. The Roman practitioners of nominal monotheism love their statuary. Can you imagine the cultural horror that would descend on Europe if these Islamists had their way with this great cultural heritage. Ok. That last bit was right out of the xenophobe's playbook, but I would expect the Islamists to start hitting premiere heritage sites in accessible (compared to US targets) Europe or Southeast Asia.
Now I don't care if they eat goats, think I'm going to hell for drinking a beer, want to spend their days reading the same book over and over or even prefer the fourteenth century to the twenty-first. So long as they stop enslaving children and women and blowing up antiquarian art that offends their Qur'an, it's live and let live in my book. Those Buddhas don't belong to them. The statuary is the property of the world's culture. The UN must do everything it can to preserve our treasures from these religious barbarians.
While we have our own religious barbarians, they are wussy wimps when compared to even "moderate" Islam. I think it's great that they don't have a drunk driving problem in Saudi Arabia, but the trade-off is unacceptable. Our religious barbarians would have forced prayer in public schools. The Islamic religious barbarians seem to restrict education for most followers to recitation of their holy book in Arabic, even when the students don't understand a word. The Church of Rome did this with Latin, but that was obsolete with the Reformation and eventual Enlightenment.
Perhaps South Asia is a special case. Pakistan and Afghanistan have been a horror show since the 1940s with the coming of Wahhabist missionary Imams with fistfuls of petro-dollars. It seems like every evil in this part of the world has a trail back to Saudi Arabia. Ignorant hicks with modern weapons and explosives is a horror that defies solution. In my darker moments I imagine the Christian snake handlers getting jealous of the Moslem whack jobs' zeal and taking up arms to enforce their version of god's will on earth. Tell me I'm wrong.
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