By Bob Volpitto
In my opinion it is the height of hypocrisy, the epitome
of egomania and the apex of arrogance. "It" refers to the
Evangelical Right Wing plan to proselytize Afghanistan's Muslims.
This insult to Islam sound like Ralph "Enron" Reed and Anne
"Claptrap" Coulter and those of their ilk have nudged the
administration of Bush/Cheney another notch to the starboard.
I suppose when Bush defined his "war" or terrorism as a "Crusade"
he wasn't waxing poetic. Muslims around the world, including
those in the United States, rose up against this contrived
Freudian slip. "Crusade", however, was soon to be stricken
from the official label of this conflict. Apologists sprang
up out of all "corners" of the Oval Office. Bush was cleansed
of his scripted faux pas -- or was he? I still see egg on
his smirking face simply because it was cleverly and deliberately
Attempts at proselytizing down through the ages is legend.
In 1492 Spain's King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, known
chiefly for their generous patronage of Christopher Columbus,
purged the Catholic Iberian Peninsula of its Muslims and its
Jews. "Convert or die," was the demand of the Inquisition's
Torquemada, with the blessings of the crown. Many chose conversion
to Christianity and because known as "Conversos", though many
others chose death. A great number of these "Conversos" secretly
continued to practice their ancient rituals, but, when discovered
doing so, were put to the fiery death at the stake or stoned
to a pulp to the delight of their Christian executioners.
These killings, this butchery, were considered acts of piety.
Proselytizing by the sword was effective, at least to a large
degree in Fifteenth Century Spain and Portugal.
Then, who can forget the fate of the Incas and Aztecs in
the New World? The highly developed civilization of Peruvian
Incas was put to the torch and hammer by those led by Pizarro
who declared the native worship abhorrent to the one true
faith. As for the Aztecs, Cortez (and later de Onate) and
the holy friars who accompanied him proselytized these heathen
worshipers -- Christianity by the sword triumphed in both
instances. Again, those who did not profess the faith of their
conquerors were executed. Another victory for proselytizing.
This time in the Sixteenth Century.
There is that shameful period of American history which tells
of the plight of the black slave in America. He was captured
by his own people, sold to a white ship captain, transported
in irons in a dank, disease ridden, rotting hold of a ship
westward. As a salve to the slaves, they were converted (say
proselytized) from their African tribal religions. They were
convinced that though their lives on earth were a constant
drudgery, there would be another life beyond death if they
adopted the faith of their owners. What choice did the black
slave have? He yearned first not for freedom but to be reborn
and subsequently reside where life was all happiness, no back
breaking labor and where singing, dancing and laughter would
For free whites in early America the attitude toward religious
freedom differed from that of bigoted European states.
In the Nineteenth Century, think of the plight of Jews in
the time of the Russian Czars. In that time Cossacks rode
horseback through Jewish neighborhoods on Good Fridays firing
their weapons into the homes of the Children of Abraham hoping
to kill the inhabitants. Pogroms were frequent and bloody.
Czar Alexander formulated the solution to Russia's "Jewish
Problem" by proclaiming: "One third will convert, one third
will emigrate and one third will die". This Czar encouraged
proselytizing, at least to a degree.
During World War II many Jewish children were proselytized
when given over to Christians to be sheltered from certain
death by the Nazis. Of course those children's lives were
spared by clever deceptions of their adopted parents who found
it also their duty to raise the children as Christians. The
most remarkable tale was that of a small boy born of Jewish
parents in France, adopted by a Christian couple and grew
up to be the Catholic Bishop of Paris!
I could continue for many pages more about the mendacity
of those who devoted their lives proselytizing in the name
of their faith. The point would be unchanged. Those who have
chosen an opposite avenue to God see the mockery in those
who demand religious tolerence from others but do not practice
The bizarre arrogance of the Right Wing Evangelists' assumption
that their faith is the only road to a better life on earth
and salvation beyond the grave defies comprehension. Are we
not all children of God no matter how we define Him, or the
ritual we choose to worship him and give thanks to Him for
His bessings and serve Him as best our mortal understanding
Proselytizing Muslims will surely bring more incidents of
violence against us. They simply don't want our religion or
the western culture that goes with it. When this violence
comes again to our shores will it not be the proselytizers
who will be the first to ask once more: "Why do they hate
Mr. Volpitto, a retired newspaper publisher, is a frequent
contibutor to Democratic Underground.