I noted a story this morning about 1300 Christian families fleeing Muslim opression in in northern Iraq — in Nineveh, to be precise. Nineveh! Of all places. Where the biblical book of Jonah proved beyond a doubt that the Lord loves not only His officially recognized people, but all who would seek Him and repent.
“Should I not be concerned about that great city?” the Lord said to Jonah, when Jonah was doing his stupid ‘I told you so’ moping about God’s all-inclusive compassion.
And yes, I believe God is still concerned about Nineveh, and lots of other hot spots in Iraq besides Baghdad, where the so-called troop surge was concentrated. (BTW, there’s some serious scientific [i.e. non-politicized ] evidence out there to suggest that the surge is not working, even in the capital, where it’s claimed to be an unqualified success. Don’t those doggone Iraqis know John McCain’s trying to win an election over here? Jeez!)
But the CNN write-up on the Mosul/Ninevite Christians was woefully incomplete, and I’m not surprised. This is the type of story that usually gets very little play, in both liberal and conservative circles. So don’t blink or you’ll probably miss it. Because the mere existence of a Christian minority in countries like Iraq, Iran, Palestine or India tends to go against the simplistic “us vs. them” , black-and-white attitude so common in Western news media and our typical “Joe Lunchbox” political discourse.
It’s just so much easier to paint an entire country or culture as Muslim. Not Shi’ite or Sunni or Sufi, just Muslim. Or worse yet, “fundamentalist” Muslim and thus universally hateful, as has been done in the case of Iran (especially over the politically sticky Israeli question). Yet for the majority of Iranian Muslims, the hard-liner stance shown to the world by their government and religious power-brokers is extreme to a fault. Ask any Iranian living in the U.S. why they often identify themselves as “Persian”, and they’re likely to answer it’s because of the knee-jerk stereotyping that’s attached to their country of origin here in the West.
Besides, everybody knows that historically, Christians have been the oppressors, not the oppressed. Right? And for the past eight years in the U.S., George Bush has generally continued that time-honored tradition. So even for American liberals, who love to talk about human rights, it’s just so much sexier to talk about abuses against Buddhists in Burma or Tibet than those against Christians in Iraq.
Here’s another example of these under-the-radar situations that get no traction in modern Western culture: Christians being killed by Hindus in backwater provinces throughout India. Check this excerpt from a recent press release, put out by the Brethren in Christ Church and Mennonite World Conference in Canada:
JOINT RELEASE: Brethren in Christ Church of North America and MWC
September 24, 2008
Leader from BIC Church in India reports on violence in Orissa
Kitchener, Ontario (Canada) – Christians fled to the jungle with nothing but the clothes on their backs, fearing for their lives. They cannot go home. The threats are still there; their homes are not. They have been burned to the ground. So have their churches, schools, orphanages, hostels, vehicles and entire villages.
Brutal violence against Christians in Orissa erupted on August 24, 2008, in the Kandhamal district in southern India. It lasted for 12 days. The fury was set off by the fatal shooting of Laxmananda Saraswati, a leader of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), a militant group, and four of his followers. Saraswati had been accused of persecuting Christians for a long time. Although the Indian government has said that Maoists (Anti-Communal Forces) are suspected of his killing, Christians are being blamed by the VHP, and all Christians and some NGOs (non-government organizations) are targets.
But we’re Americans. We have a hard time making these distinctions. “What? Maoists in India? Hindus? What do they believe? Are they our enemies now, too?”
Sorry. I’m just a little pissed off at the moment. I don’t mean to make fun of my primary readership. I know some government officials and private citizens actually care that this kind of discrimination and outright oppression goes on in so many countries, against various minorities, religious and otherwise. But wisdom dictates: “You gotta pick your battles”. And we picked a doozy there in Iraq.
I just wish we’d all finally wake up and become informed citizens of the world, not just of our own little backwater burgs, and Lost tv-show fan clubs, and aggressively ignorant nation.