Irreligious troubles

Remember the troubles in Ireland? They were religious wars is what we were told. The Catholics against the Protestants. Been going on for centuries. Indeed.

England has occupied Ireland for centuries, that much is true. And the English lackeys who settled the land for the British king and played landlord to the Irish were Protestant indeed. And the native Irish who have been fighting to regain their sovereignty are the religion of St Stephen who drove the pagan snakes from Ireland and converted everyone to Christianity before there was such a thing as Protestantism. The English were Catholic until Henry VIII was refused an annulment from the pope and so created his own Church of England. British subjects had to follow their king into Protestantism, and the enemy freedom fighters in Ireland would, of course, not.

And so the battle between the Irish and their English occupiers waged on, cleverly repackaged by the empire, the British Empire and ours, as religious troubles. Who sympathizes with an opponent’s foreign religion? The plight the dispossessed is another matter.

Likewise in Palestine. Are we to believe that Muslims are fighting Jews over the fate of their religious differences in Palestine? Oh, it’s been going on for thousands of years. Really?

Israel’s pretext for entitlement to the Holy Land dates back two thousand years, that’s true enough, when Jews last ruled Judea. There probably can be no end to land disputes when you argue claims that far back. Courts decided long ago to simplify disputes with statutes of limitation. In war however, every conqueror likes to assert they are reclaiming what lands were theirs by predestiny.

Palestinians are fighting the Israelis for their homeland. Israel occupies Palestine and keeps building settlements unto more of it, displacing and killing the original occupants. Israel’s motives might be religious, but the conflict is not. The fighting is occupation versus resistance, er, insurrection. The internecine strife amongst Palestinians and amongst Lebanese are no more sectarian than it is about who is collaborating with the occupiers.

Sectarian differences in Iraq, as throughout the Middle East, have similarly less to do with religion than the struggle against colonial occupiers. Right now we are demonizing the Shia, the fundamentalist hard ballers out of Iran, who threaten the Sunnis. They do, but hardly for religious reasons. The Sunni are and have been our agents, the administrative class for the West’s domination of the Middle East. When you hear Egypt opine, that’s us. Saudi Ariabia, that’s us. All the feudal sheiks, sultans and monarchs? Ours. In our pocket and we in theirs. They don’t like the Shias because they’re as irreligious as alpha males in a harem. Once more the occupiers have their religious or counter-religious pretext. The oppressed are fighting for their land and their freedom.

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Eric Verlo

About Eric Verlo

On sabbatical
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