Information Landmine

"The Americans keep telling us how successful their system is. Then they remind us not to stray too far from our hotel at night." - An un-named EU trade representative quoted during international trade talks in Denver, Colorado, 1997.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

"I'm not a pacifist"

Is there something about particular religions that incites people to violence or is it particular people who go looking for support of their crackpot tendencies? Finally, the question is settled once and for all in this evening's episode of the Channel 4 documentary, The Bible: A Brief History, in which Gerry Adams gives us his version of Jesus' teachings on peace and forgiveness. Yes, Gerry Adams.

You can just picture Channel 4's producers salivating at the idea of the rumpus such a shocking choice for their programme on Jesus and forgiveness might cause. Unfortunately for them it's ultimately more comedy than controversy.

During the programme, Adams does his best to portray himself as affable, thoughtful and kindly (which he may well be, I can't really comment as the closest I've ever come to meeting him was when I went shopping in Manchester on 15th June 1996).

He affably, thoughtfully and kindly points out to viewers less conversant with Northern Irish politics: “I'm not a pacifist”. Well, cheers Gerry, that whole IRA thing has been puzzling me for years. Adams goes on to seek out grains of support in the (what I had hitherto always regarded as gentle, peaceful) teachings of Jesus for his own personal support of violence. A particularly snigger-worthy moment was during a discussion about Barabbas, when Adams pointed out that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter:

Posh history prof: “Barabbas was what we would call a terrorist these days”
Adams: “From someone else's viewpoint he might have been a freedom fighter”

By now even the slowest of Channel 4's viewers[1] have grasped the brazen fact which has been flaunting itself throughout: that Adams has nothing meaningful to say on the subject matter that the programme professes to be about.

Finally, Adams' conclusion about the teachings of Jesus? they're more sort of guidelines really.

Channel 4 did accidentally allow some valid insights to slip in, such as the widow of Pat Finucane (who was killed by Loyalist paramilitaries) talking about forgiveness, and Alan McBride (whose wife and father-in-law were killed in the Shankill road IRA bombing), who suggested that we should “be more like Jesus and not so religious”. Pretty spot on. Odd to think there are people out there who, on the one hand are willing to kill in the name of their professed religion, but on the other hand, are not willing to live according to the true teachings of that religion.

[1] And we're talking a Channel which routinely broadcasts impenetrably intellectual programmes such as Wife Swap and Supersize vs Superskinny.


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