Sunday, March 1, 2009

How the American Taliban does it: playing dirty

This blogger's football analogy seems to hit it on the head:
an analogy: a popular Christian high school football team, The Fighting Americans, has half a dozen members who play dirty. vicious illegal hits are their stock in trade, temporarily knocking their opponents out of the game. sure they are occasionally penalized on the field, but not really by the team, quite the opposite in fact. the coaches quietly reward their behavior with increased playing time, they are praised in the locker room and at the pizza joint, given nicknames like The Enforcers, The Bad Boys. a few of the moderate players, those who might want to criticize, mostly keep quiet because of fear of rejection by the tribe; plus they are enjoying the benefits of being a part of a tough winning team. the 'end justifies the means' attitude bleeds into the fans at the games and into the school and the community. and then one Friday night, the stands are packed, the crowd roars, another vicious hit and a boy goes down and doesn't get up, ever. he's paralyzed for life and a family is destroyed by grief and expense. whose fault is it?
I remember this past fall watching one of our home football games from the stands. The opposing team was a Christian liberal arts college (our university's football team plays at least a couple of them each fall). What impressed me about the Christian college in question - I keep wanting to say it was Southern Nazarene (though don't quote me on that) - was how many cheap shots, how many illegal shots that they took at our players. The officials managed to catch a fraction of them. At the end of the game, after the opposing team had won, they all converged on the center of the field and engaged in a characteristically pious display of loud prayer. I wondered at the time if there were any of their team members who had felt tempted to object or felt a twinge of guilt for not saying something.

The same sort of mindset, the same sort of behaviors seem to emerge on the social and political fields too - the end justifies the means; let God sort it out. Some of the worst liars, some of the most devious manipulators, happen to put on gaudy displays of their alleged "faith." For me, such faith is worthless without the deeds to back it up. Maybe it comes down to such folks to so successfully compartmentalize so much of their behavioral and mental activity that the question of deeds matching words never gets asked (that sounds like something along the lines of what Altemeyer writes regarding right-wing authoritarians).

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