Truth and the Internet, letting the nazis march through Skokie.
A Friend whose wisdom and friendship I treasure, deeply wrote on her blog recently, in regard to a post of mine, where I admit to the human frailty of a lack of precise exactitude in minuet facts in blogging...
"I don't want to sound as though I feel there is no place for fun and silliness and less than ponderous discussion, because of course I think we have room for lots of the above. But without a sense that we are upholding truth and mutual understanding to the full extent of our abilities, no matter how heavy or light the subject, I find it difficult to have a meaningful and fruitful discussion about anything, let alone the deep, tender subjects that seem to be Quaker blogger mainstays."
I wrote more than a bit in answer to this, yet I still feel there is much more to be said when the word truth is spoken among Friends. I could not sleep tonight, as I thought of the advice read today at the meeting for worship with a concern for business. It was about our tradition of not speaking oaths in court as we spoke the truth in ever word we say.
This is a heavy thing, when we as Quakers divide ourselves out from the public who, it is felt, must place their hand on a bible to be trusted with truth. The search for truth takes both courage and a tough skin. If we are to approach truth, more than that to be truly honest, takes the courage to look in a mirror and ask have I sinned against the truth in ways that shock me to admit.
Some feel that I quibble over trite phrases when I shudder at the danger of the myth of the man without sin, or imperfection, the man who stands over Fox, and Pen, and Hicks, and thee and me, to guide us to the kingdom of God.
But, I come back and back to the question of totalitarianism and the pluralist society. What role is there for totalitarian thought, and is the sin of totalitarianism the murder committed in its name, or the act of damning the "other" in the act of saying our image of God is perfect, rather than saying, only God is perfect. Is there a damnation inseparable from the word perfect, or without sin?
Let me present a query, then a hypothetical then return to the query.
Should nazis be allowed to march in uniform through the town of Skokie? This was a real question for the courts, which is revisited again and again in asking how to be tolerant of intolerance.
There is real harm, as in Skokie, it was chosen by the American nazi Party, because it has the highest population of death camp survivors in the US. The harm to such a survivor, at the age many are, is a life endangering threat, to see thy former killers march past thy house.
OK. Hypothetical. What if these nazis proclaimed, "Hitler was a heretic to true nazism, which really is only the worship of the old Teutonic Gods as expressed by Bismark."
"Wait, thee says. Bismark had nothing to do with nazism."
"Oh, ye of little faith", they reply. "Our faith tells us that Bismark was the true founder of our faith and was in fact a good nazi and so, we reclaim all the nazi images, from our dear swastika to our brown shirts and even the dear old horst weasel song, and will parade it in love through Skokie. We are the good nazis."
Well... are we to say, "Oh, right boys, no harm in that, well met hail fellow, and sig hiel to thee, friend?"
Well, not me, not yet, I need more convincing.
By this symbol will you conquer cost the lives of uncountable millions in a holocaust of over a thousand years. Every year of my life, someone was damning me for seeing Jesus in a different manner then they did, even when I accepted Jesus as perfect, though not God. At the deep root of the evil of Christian totalitarianism was the symbols that made conquest possible, the cross, the crown and yes, the Christ.
But, Friends say, we are the new, user friendly Christians. We are not the movement which even killed OUR forefathers and hanged our foremothers. We seek truth, though we hold back one symbolic tie to totalitarianism which we cannot bring ourselves to abandon. In this we forsake the evil done in the sin of division out from God and our fellow humans, but not the sin, the separation of saying we hold a image to be perfect or sinless, and yet, we stand on our tradition to speak truth in every word.
When we weigh the symbols of totalitarianism... are we brave enough to look at our own? Are we deniers of the Christian holocaust, and planting seeds of the next years crop of totalitarian sin and war?