31 March 2010

Catholics and Commies

Authoritarians are all alike. The inheritors of the Earth's two most significant historical empires, the Roman and the Chinese, don't seem to realize that the days of "it's true because I said so" are over. There was a time the Pope and the Emperor of China could literally dictate what was true and false within the substantial segments of the globe they controlled. This is no longer true, but apparently the authoritarians haven't gotten the message.

Lately, the New York Times seems to be reporting daily on new evidence that during his tenure as a Catholic bishop, the current Pope was informed of several priests sexually abusing children in Germany and the US, and he did nothing to help those children or prevent further abuse. All his actions seem to have been directed at image control, not sexual abuse control. Obviously, this behavior is about as immoral as human behavior gets, yet there has been no official explanation of the evidence from the Vatican, other than to attack those who present it. Apparently, the Pope still thinks he's infallible. Now, there is a certain segment of the Catholic population who's self-identity is so tied up in being Catholic that admitting that the Pope is actually an abusive asshole would cause an identity crisis so large that no amount of evidence can convince them of the truth. These people cannot be reasoned with, and as a result they don't require explanations that are rational. "I said so," uttered from an authority figure they identify with is enough. But for an increasing number of humans, particularly the increasing number of humans raised to think for themselves in an atmosphere of free and open discussion, "I said so" doesn't cut it. No matter who says so.

Big Beijing is running into this problem as well, all over the place. From poorly constructed schools in Sichuan that killed hundreds of children to disappearing Falun Gong practitioners and their on-demand organs, to countless other examples of Big Beijing showing no respect for the value of human life, the response is always the same (see attached photo). The recent spat with Google is instructive. When Google decided to stop censoring Chinese search results, a decision that included a statement about the value of free exchange of information and open debate, Big Beijing's response was that Google was "totally wrong." Nothing about the value of social harmony vs. freedom of information, just a blanket statement that if you disagree with Big Baby, you're wrong. Why? Because Big Baby said so, and Big Baby, like the Pope, is infallible. They both have the Mandate of Heaven, apparently. Just like some Catholics, some Chinese have so thoroughly attached their personal identity to their government that these "arguments" are actually "persuasive." Perhaps in a nation of only children, educated in Chinese state schools, many people are predisposed to this type of nationalistic, authoritarian "thinking." But if you want to convince adults, you have to make a coherent argument. Which is why Big Beijing's propaganda system doesn't seem to work in HK, and why many Americans are leaving the Catholic Church. It should be interesting to see how this plays out between now and 2047 (the year the gweilo evacuate HK).

2 comments:

  1. Great post, Wesley. But one thing about Google though, they shouldn't have bothered to do business in China in the first place if they were so in favour of the freedom of information.

    And you are right, many Americans are leaving the Catholic Church. But unfortunately, there are so many sects about pretty much the same religion in the States. In fact, I just came across with someone who still didn't believe in the biological evolution and a Mormon who claimed Mormonism was the "true" Christianity a couple days ago.

    W

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  2. If Google had never agreed to censor the Internet they would have never been in china and the world wouldn't talking about this right now. I'm glad Google went in, espessially if they always planned on leaving.

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