Sunday, 2 August 2009

Bigots to host bigotry exhibition

According to this week’s Indie (see ) there are plans to bring an exhibition to encourage tolerance and mutual respect to St German's Cathedral for a month in March 2010. The report tells us that: ”It is hoped the project, led by the Anne Frank (+You) Isle of Man Committee, will encourage Manx students to consider issues of tolerance, mutual respect and human dignity.”
Any serious analysis of the rise of fascism and similar phenomena sees the Anne Frank mythology as unhelpful. It fits in nicely with the touchy-feely fashion for personalising world change and offers no analysis of the structures which have to be put in place, the way large social and political groups take sides to build or protect their power over others, the way emotion replaces reason, hysteria replaces social dialogue and so on.
It pretends that the Holocaust was a specific, unrepeatable atrocity which only affected a specific group (which it so obviously wasn't) caused by a few 'evil' individuals (when again, it so obviously had broad social support ) and says little about how we recognise the signs that it is happening to another quite different group in a quite different place and time.
That aside, and assuming for argument's sake the organisers mean well and want to prevent future horrors on the scale of the Holocaust, why are they putting it on in a place which is a beacon to Manx bigotry?
That’s easy. The local churches are trying to delay their eventual demise and simultaneously get more state subsidy by reinventing themselves as ‘community resources’. I blogged on the cathedral plans before (see Lies, more lies and moral cowardice), so put that with this week’s news and you quickly see what is going on.
In a recent report of a talk to a Ramsey women's group in a local paper (sadly not on line) Sentamu’s Apprentice really lets the cat out of the bag. He admits that the diocese is not only replacing the professional clergy with hobby vicars as they retire but setting up church-sharing arrangements with the other denominations too.
Legal preparations for this were actually put in place a few years back when something called the Church Sharing Act was quietly slipped through Tynwald. As in the UK, Manx Anglicans have powers to have their equivalent of the Attorney General (the Vicar General) draw up their own legislation, providing it only affects Anglican internal affairs and not the rest of us. This must either go through Tynwald unchanged and without comment or be rejected outright.
The only politicos who saw or discussed this Bill with the Vicar General would have been the Ecclesiastical Committee, a small group of pliable godbotherers who only meet in private. If you ever need a handy list of political botty kissers who you can absolutely depend on to push through any superstitious codswallop just look up the personal profiles of every MHK and MLC on the Tynwald website. If they’ve ever been on the Ecclesiastical Committee they're superstitious rednecks.
The previous venues for this exhibition don’t convince me it’s exactly a rigorous affair which queries the roots of anti-semitism and other prejudices either. Blackburn Cathedral (see I'm not eating that! for a snapshot of that particular madhouse) and Liverpool, whose Bishop is not exactly noted for a tolerance of gay churchgoers and clergy though, like Sentamu, he carefully keeps a foot in both camps.
I’ll tell you what. The day an exhibition which traces the history of anti-semitism back to medieval outrages like the York pogroms and also includes the vital collaborations between early fascism and the German and Italian churches comes here, and the day Manx Christians talk openly about the vital role of religion in producing discourses which turn particular groups of people at particular times and places in history (always times and places when Christianity is itself in a crisis) into the totally illogical ‘causes’ of ‘evil’ which must be eliminated by wiping out that entire culture….
Well, if they ever do (which I doubt) I might consider their monuments to inhumanity and ignorance fit places to allow my child on a school trip without a responsible adult.

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