Thursday, September 23, 2010

What is a Super-Narrative? Part II

So a narrative is the story we use to make sense of things, and against which we interpret events. Even if we don't know the facts, we don't have to know them since we are already sure about how the story unfolds. Narrative.

A Super-Narrative, then, is when the narrative has become so firmly entrenched that it isn't just believed without evidence. It is believed even when evidence shows it is wrong. When we know the evidence, see the evidence, and yet, despite it all, there is no way in God's green earth we will accept anything other than the narrative we have come to accept.

So the narrative of the Western Progressive movement, finding its full flowering in the ideals of Multi-Culturalism, is that the Christian Western Tradition was in all ways flawed, inferior to any and all other cultures, and the singular cause of problems in the world. People may have done things wrong in other parts of the world, but this fact is handled one of two ways. Either they did wrong because the West got in there and messed things up and made them do it. Or, it wasn't really 'wrong' because it was just their thing. For us to say it was wrong is to make an ethnocentric value judgement without any justification.

This has been going on for some time, and we can't just blame those rascally hippies from the 60s. Though it would find its most powerful expressions in the age of mass media of the television era. Nonetheless, its roots go back to the Reformation, when Protestant reformers were more than happy to take the problems in the Catholic Church (and boy were there problems), and multiply them beyond all reality, insisting that the entire history of the Church had been one long, sad tale of horror and unspeakable sin. Since then, taking the traditions we don't want to the woodshed has been a popular way of getting newer, revolutionary ideas across.
As much as I'm proud to be an American, am proud of the Revolution and our Independence, and admire and celebrate our Founding Fathers, I have to be real. They took issues about taxes and about restrictions on their abilities to bring in the big bucks and made them into a cosmic struggle between the Force and the Dark Side. And it goes on today. That's the power of the narrative. That's when the narrative takes over, and you can start reinterpreting everything in light of that: English Oppression, Catholic Corruption, American racism - you name it.

But what happens when the evidence starts to stack up against the narrative? What happens when people look back and start asking questions about the past? Defending a narrative based on the past actually isn't hard, since most of history is based on interpretation anyway. It takes certain assumptions to study and interpret history, and you can just smack people down if they challenge the narrative. What do you mean there was no Indian Genocide? Huh? I suppose you're just some American racist who worships the country like a God then, aren't you! Aren't you!!

That's good. But now, what if the evidence isn't something from the past, where dead men walked and no longer tell any tales? What happens if it's now, outside our windows, right next to us and in our living rooms? What happens if what we are seeing right now no longer fits the narrative?

One of two things could occur. We could admit the narrative might at least need some tweaking. Which is unlikely since people often take a bullet before admitting something they have founded their life's values on could be wrong. Or we can just ignore it and keep repeating the narrative in the hopes that it will stick, using any threats or smack downs to keep people from questioning the obvious. And that, my friends, is the Super Narrative. When in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, we continue to just say the same thing over and over again in the hope we'll still believe it, we have passed to the world of the Super Narrative.

So, for example, progressivism. Holding disproportionate majorities in our popular media and culture, Western Progressivism is more or less secular. Modern Atheists, finding a sympathetic audience as a result, have caught the post-9/11 wave and declared that 9/11 is what religion gets you every time. Religion is always violent, and most violence is religious. Get rid of religion, and you get peace. The problem is we live after the 20th century, the least religiously motivated and influenced century in history. The bulk of the movements and wars and atrocities of that century had little to nothing to do with religion. Nations dedicated to the proposition that atheism must stay and religion go, managed to murder more people in a shorter amount of time than at any time in human history. Those are facts. Yet the modern atheist, with the help of mass media (really needed to establish a Super Narrative), simply keeps repeating over and over the meme that religion kills, atheism can save.

Another case is, of course, the clash of civilizations since 9/11. Most in America, even those not in bed with Secular Progressives, have more or less accepted the 'bad us, good them' approach. The idea that we are the mischief, and most other folks merely want peace and love and John Lennon songs. Yet, as year after year has passed, it's become more difficult to believe, hasn't it? After all, Racist Americans (TM) were supposed to rise up after 9/11 and make the streets run red with the blood of Muslim Americans. Remember that? Just like we did to the Japanese in WWII (we did it to Germans and Italians, but don't mention that since it's easier to build the Racist American narrative). Did it happen? Not really. There's been as much violence against other religions, including Christianity, as there has been against Muslims.

Consider the Mosque controversy. Yes, some of it is based on good old fashioned bigotry the way grandma used to bake it. But most seem quite reasoned and rational about it. Yes, Terry Jones, pastor extraordinaire gave the keepers of the Narrative a blast when he seemed to embrace the Racist American meme and live it out to the full. But in the end, just about every American condemned the Koran burning, and he backed down. Has the good Imam of the Ground Zero Mosque, in deference to those victims of 9/11 who have asked him to relocated, compromised? Nope. Not yet. In fact, he's said what was said to Pope Benedict a few years ago: I may not support violence, but if you do things we don't like, there will be violence and that's the end of that.

Yes, we went to two ill-planned wars, and internal divisions and rank partisanship all but hamstrung our hopes for any victory, if there was any hope at all. But despite two invasions, the biggest killer of Muslims since 9/11 has been Muslims. So much so, that support for terrorism in the Muslim world has dropped slightly in the last few years. In addition, cartoons and academic lectures have caused riots, embassies to be attacked, churches to be burned, nuns to be shot, and a continual stream of planned (and thankfully busted) terrorist attacks on American and European soil.

So, you would think somewhere folks would be saying this goes to show you the world may be more complex than we've made it in recent years. We need to rethink and re-approach how we look at the world, and make sure our efforts for peace take into account the realities, and are not based on bigotry against any side in these conflicts, including our own. You would think that, but you'd be wrong.

The media continues to insist that Pastor Terry Jones merely represented a long, sad history of American Racism and bigotry. And hundreds of millions of Muslims who still support terrorism including suicide bombing? The case after case of Muslim violence, riots, and threats? The lack of evidence of uprisings in America that has caused the death of thousand of Muslims here at home? No problem. Just ignore it. That is the miracle of the Super Narrative. Once you accept it and base your reality on it, a little thing like evidence doesn't need to get in the way. Heck, if it's to that point, you can even throw out a morsel to those who might be troubled by all this to remind them of the narrative: Muslims support terrorism you say? Well, how many Americans supported Hiroshima, tell me that buster brown! For once you are in so deep as to live by a Super Narrative, there is little hope that you, or the society that has accepted it, will ever change. Even after it's too late.

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