Monday, February 20, 2012

Oh, God

Okay, hands up - who believes that Sayeeda Warsi is worried by the forces of "militant secularisation"?   Does she wake suddenly in the wee small hours from uneasy dreams of Commissars snatching crucifixes from the grasp of pleading children?   Do cackling blasphemers haunt her long dark nights of the soul?

I'm going to out on a limb here and suggest... not.

Britain certainly hasn't been a Christian country in anything but the loosest cultural sense for at least a century.  It's had its fads and great revivals, but ultimately the Puritans have always got the boot.  The effects of the Sharia lite of yesteryear are now seen largely in period dramas.  Invitees to weddings mouth the words to hymns, humming and hawing what they hope is an approximation of the melody, unless it doubles up as a football chant.   Religion, especially the in-your-face type, is pretty much social death these days.

Contrary to what yer Warsis might think, this is something that has happened naturally.  I put it down to a mixture of factors, myself.  The wars of religion, for a start - Britain has produced some world class fire and brimstone bellowers, with predictable results.  Plus, there's the typically British gut instinct that public acts of piousness are just that little bit undignified, something we expect from excitable Foreigns.

And there's also all that religion in state schools.  If I wanted to draw up a plan to sabotage what remains of public faith in one generation, mandated prayer and psalms in school assemblies would be right at the top of my list.

You'd think that a Conservative politician would readily grasp the causes for this irreligion.  Far from being the result of some wicked cultural Marxism, Britain's Godlessness is the natural outcome of a free market in belief.  Once social enforcement collapsed, most of the populace took a look at the product on offer from the major religions and said thanks, but no thanks.  We'll take consumerism instead, if that's okay with you - spend it now, rather than save for the future.  It's the British way.

The wisdom of crowds!  Maybe there is something to all that greed-happy Tory goobledigook, after all.

So, if there is no great threat from secularism - this is secularism!  You're looking at it! - what can have provoked the Baroness's ire?

Let's bear in mind that Baroness Warsi, co-chair of the Conservative Party, has hardly found her faith an impediment either to becoming a Baroness or to making co-chair of the Conservative Party. I think we should at least consider the possibility that this career politician is in fact playing politics.

It's hardly new.  The wingnutty social conservative wing of the Tory Party has spent much of the last few years slyly trying to import the wackier sections of American culture war politics, the cornerstone of which is that Ol' Time Religion.    Let's review how culture war works. 

Step One - make some lunatic proclamation. 

Step Two - wait for various urbane, polysyllabic, smartarsed ex-student types to take the piss out of you in a highly condescending manner. 

Step Three - Wail and rend your garments over said smartarses' mockery, thus eliciting sympathy and indignation from your supporters. 

Step Four - see Step One.

It's a fairly simple strategy, based around the simple formula Blame; Hate; Coalesce; Rinse and Repeat.  The issue at stake can be sexual morality, abortion, teenagers fucking, religion - anything really, provided it riles up the social conservatives and gets the metropolitan set's vitriol flowing.  Sarah Palin has made tens of millions off the back of this.

After all, the aim here isn't to win.  If an issue is clear-cut, it's worse than useless, because the whole point of culture war is to start an argument and keep it going indefinitely.  If anything, it's better if the issue is something irresolvable.  It's better if it's some indefensible foolishness that sends your supporters flocking into the wackier corners of the internet looking for better arguments.  There are hundreds of thousands of aggrieved, unhappy people out there, and lots of them have years of experience in stoking popular resentment over slights, both real and imagined. 

And it's not like you'll ever want for enemies.  Hell, there are hundreds of thousands of offensive, strident pricks out there who have hours to spend infuriating fledgeling wingnuts with their superior intellects and wondrous powers of reason.  I know, because... 

Well, I know.  Let's leave it at that.

Let battle commence!  Why not have an argument over who gets custody of the Nazis?  Abortion is literally genocide!  And don't go reading any headlines today about how the government is tanking the economy, thanks.

If I was Sayeeda Warsi, you're damn right I'd want a public debate on religion, a really feral and merciless one.  Take a look across the pond and you'll see why.  Every second that the suckers on both sides spend raging over piss-soaked crucifixes or the commandments in court is more time that they're not spending comparing the unemployment rate to the number of available jobs.

I guess it's up to you to decide how far you want to join in the ruckus.

Now, whose side are suicide bombers on?

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