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2010: The year of the Postmodernist Revival

August 10, 2010

2010: The year of the Postmodernist Revival

In many ways 2009 to early 2010 was the year of the angry atheist. It was not so much a sweeping movement of millions of angry atheists rising up to clam the universe but more of a media attention bubble. Contemporary polemics had two big starts, Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, rode the wave of publicity as they trampled on all that religious people hold to be near and dear. Almost every day they would be quoted in the news or derided by critics for their vitriol. Yet like most controversial subjects they had manage to make their bile into a pop industry. ‘Pop’ being the operative word because lately their bubble seems to have popped. The campaign to arrest the Pope may have proven how frighteningly extreme and irrational these people were. Like many of the fads of the past the ‘New (bitterly angry) Atheist’ fad was doomed to fade to obscurity as soon as their shallow groupies found new less tiresome fad to fill their shallow lives. I predicted as much over a year ago when Dawkins and Hitchens et al were riding high on a wave of book sales numbers. Hate really takes a lot of effort to maintain.

Perhaps the most telling sign of how badly the ‘New Atheists’ were doing was when they ran a conference in Melbourne called the ‘Rise of Atheism’. (An event so forgettable that no one can tell me why they even bothered to run it.) If their objective was show that Richard Dawkins can be as infantile and nasty as a spoiled school girl then it was mission accomplished. If it was a recruitment drive then: ho hum. If it was designed to remove all religious people from positions of influence then they have failed dismally.

Here is why:

Before the calling of the 2010 Australian federal election both Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott were invited to explain their policies and visions to a room full of Christians from the Australian Christian Union. This would be considered no big deal from the viewpoint of inclusiveness but from the viewpoint of a New Atheist it would be confirmation of their political irrelevance. With Kevin Rudd’s removal as Prime Minster and his subsequent replacement with the self professed atheist Julia Gillard you might have expected religious leader and events to be shunned. However this is not the case. Julia Gillard was quick to distinguish herself from the angry ‘New Atheist’ rhetoric and embrace the language of inclusion. She even announced a donation of $1.2 million toward the St Mary McKillop celebrations. This was no mistake because it signalled how few votes there are in being hostile to religion as opposed to warming up to its members.

Yet not everything appears to have a wonderful glow about it. Instead of divisions of conviction we have an inclusion of every possible soft opinion. The embrace of religious groups is not without the rejection of its morality in favour of a secular amoral haze. Every moral principle that would cause offence to any minority has watered down to the point that it has no conviction. This is not an era of bold new ideas but an era of extreme politically correctness.

For example: Julia Gillard was questioned on Radio ABC 774 over her slurring of the name of Mr Abbott until it sounded like ‘Mr Rabbit’. Tony Abbott was accused of using the term ‘No means no’ as an intentional slur against women who are raped. Former Liberal Party leader, Andrew Peacock, was chastised by a blind Labor Party member when he used the term ‘You would have to be pretty handicapped not to see…’ Cardinal Pell was accused by the Australian Greens leader Bob Brown of ‘Dog Whistling.’ The list goes on and this is just from the last two weeks of election campaigning.

More disturbing is the question of asylum seekers being used as a political football where the party who kicks hardest wins. It is true that people smugglers are profiteering as circumvent the normal immigration processes. It is also true that they have a callous and often parasitic attitude to their passengers. It is also true that some of the asylum seeker have questionable pasts and other terrorist associates. Yet the debate is only focusing upon where to put them. Suddenly the debate has also morphed into one about population, as if the asylum issue has affected this in any significant way.

Again the question of ‘Same Sex Marriage’ has been thrown about by the usual minority voices, yet instead either side making any hard statement we have a race for the status quo. Neither side has the guts to either say that it wrong in principle or right in principle. The fear of offending someone is palpable. Even ‘openly gay’ Penny Wong has been promoting the party line of saying ‘no’ to ‘same sex’ marriage. Does anyone seriously believe that she is being genuine in this stance? The question of whether ‘same sex’ (homosexual) relationships are a violation of moral tenements is also being conveniently swept under the rug.

There is more going on than just candidates avoiding the embarrassing questions. Instead of an identifiable stance and conviction we have something far worse than ruthless pragmatism: We moral cowardice. Unfortunately it appears as if the greatest moral coward may actually win the vote.

I am not sure how this era of PC thuggery suddenly arose but some of the blame should be laid at the feet of a headline hungry press core that are playing ‘Gotcha’ journalism. The political hacks from all side are playing along with this infantile school yard taunting. Nowhere does there seem to be a voice of clarity to lay waste to this irrational nonsense where any throwaway line suddenly becomes that latest piece of contrived indignation and condemnation. Every word becomes a sub textual act that is guilty as soon as a crime can be made fit the accusation. A person may say any innocent phrase and suddenly it is misquoted and turned into the utterances of the devil himself.

Perhaps we need less of the search for the hidden meaning and more of the actual content. Perhaps we need journalist with greater comprehension skills than their deconstructive skills. Perhaps it is not too late to say, ‘Hell no, I will never apologise for your warped interpretation of what was said in plain English!’

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