Blasphemy took to fabric recently as Byron Bay based fashion designer Lisa Burke upset Hindus worldwide by printing an image of the goddess Lakshmi on a bikini.
What demographic type of Hindu was outraged by this? According to the Times Of India online, both Indian and Australian governments stepped in ‘following protests by the Indian community in Sydney and right-wing groups in India.’
Subsequently it went worldwide as other right-wing (presumably) Hindu followers joined in the condemnation.
When members of the world’s third largest religion get upset – albeit its right-wing members – it’s a good opportunity to find out more.
Hinduism is generally regarded as the world’s oldest organised religion, according to www.religioustolerance.org. ‘Because of the wide variety of Hindu traditions, freedom of belief and practice are notable features of Hinduism.’
It goes onto say, it has ‘traditionally been among the world’s most religiously tolerant faiths. However, until recently, a Hindu nationalistic political party controlled the government of India. The linkage of religion, the national government, and nationalism led to a degeneration of the separation of church and state in India. This, in turn, had decreased the level of religious tolerance in that country.’
The swimwear issue highlights how religion can promote extremism and intolerance more than justice, equality and love for all.
‘Justice, equility [sic] and love for all,’ is ironically what Rajan Zed’s website says. He’s a self-described Hindu statesman, based in the USA, and is one of the many speaking God’s will against Ms Burke’s bikini line.
As a lot of religious folk like to speak on God’s behalf, please indulge me if I do so on behalf of the late Jewish-American comedian Lenny Bruce. ‘Take away the right to say fuck, and you take away the right to say “fuck the government”.’ I think Lenny meant to add ‘religion’.
Something felt wrong this week. The US acted out a schoolyard tit-for-tat imperialistic whoopass on bin Laden and we are supposed to feel grateful. Celebrating public assassinations is a dangerous direction for any society, but that didn’t stop world leaders and the media from applauding the act.
Activist Noam Chomsky summed it up well, and was one of a few who questioned the ethical implications of the operation:
‘We might ask ourselves how we would be reacting if Iraqi commandos landed at George W Bush’s compound, assassinated him, and dumped his body in the Atlantic. Uncontroversially, his crimes vastly exceed bin Laden’s, and he is not a “suspect” but uncontroversially the “decider”...'
Even Jon Stewart from The Daily Show, a notable Liberal intellectual, treated bin Laden’s demise as a football touchdown.
In interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, both left-leaning pundits dismissed whether it was a staged event – due to the lack of evidence – with, ‘That’s not the America I know.’
It appears even the most progressive minds in the US feel a sense of vindication for 9/11, and simplistic patriotic sentiment still reigns over asking why he existed in the first place.
Chomsky says that in societies that profess some respect for law, suspects are apprehended and brought to fair trial. ‘There is much talk of bin Laden’s “confession,” but that is rather like my confession that I won the Boston Marathon. He boasted of what he regarded as a great achievement.
‘There is also much media discussion of Washington’s anger that Pakistan didn’t turn over bin Laden, though surely elements of the military and security forces were aware of his presence in Abbottabad.
‘Less is said about Pakistani anger that the US invaded their territory to carry out a political assassination.
‘Anti-American fervour is already very high in Pakistan, and these events are likely to exacerbate it. The decision to dump the body at sea is already, predictably, provoking both anger and scepticism in much of the Muslim world.’’
I am unsatisfied – not because we are told to be happy that he’s dead – but because the reasoning behind the West’s ‘enemies’ is never examined with much depth by the mainstream media or politicians.
It takes research, time and investigation to learn about politics, imperialism, economics, religion and military strategy.
The next disenfranchised group to emerge will no doubt share the same anti-US sentiment, born from predator drone strikes and the commodification of their culture.
The prerequisite, as always, is having no economic/military power and an attractive natural resource portfolio.
A reasonable barometer of our self-proclaimed righteousness would be explaining the US assassination of bin Laden to an eight-year-old.