Righteousness

“Art can soothe, it can inspire, but it also stirs heated passions and outright protest. Why does that happen, and why in some cases but not others? That’s the subject of the new book, ‘Not Here, Not Now, Not That! Protest Over Art and Culture in America.'”

For a PBS transcript of that topic, or even a video clip, you can read Conversation: Why Do Americans Protest Art?

I was immediately struck by a parallel question of my own. In Pakistan, why do they stone the rape victim?

It seemed obvious to me that overzealous righteousness has everything to do with it: the god-given notion that we have the right to define what offends us personally as an offense to the very universe, and that we somehow then acquire the divine right to mete out retribution of our own choosing without benefit of judge, jury, trial or verdict.

They are in this country illegally; they deserve whatever we can do to them. If an official suspects a person of wrongdoing, it should be OK to detain them indefinitely without charges or a hearing. My neighbor is voting Republican; he must be a very bad person. The Jones are voting Democratic; see how they have renounced the American Way.

When we think about The Crusades, the Holocaust, Little Rock, Matthew Shepard, the Jihads or the Salem witch trials, there looms a very real sense in which the greatest evils of mankind come not from unguarded sin, but from unbridled righteousness.

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