Thursday, April 14, 2005

Pope-mania Redux

The “New York Times” reported Wednesday that there’s a move afoot to make the just-departed Poop a saint. In Daniel J. Wakin’s “Acclaiming John Paul as a Saint Gains Advocates in High Places,” we learn that “The usual process involves years of careful investigation, and it sometimes takes centuries for the final declaration.”

The idea of course, is that a man or woman’s deeds be reviewed with the perspective time necessarily lends things. In the heat of the moment, in the throes of loss, and today, under the white heat of Klieg lights, we can overstate one’s importance and achievements.

But baby boomers are the same everywhere and the careful traditions groomed by generations of people in myriad institutions and handed down to them are naught but obstacles to the satisfaction of their (the scribe should say “our”) own peculiar desires.

Got a big funeral? Make the corpse a saint. Senate rules keeping you from absolute power? Nuke the filibuster.

the scribe insists the Pope was not a great man so much as a magnified man.

In fact, a Reuters report for April 13 observed that, “In the days since the death of Pope John Paul II, U.S. media outlets have showered the late pontiff with mostly uncritical praise while downplaying the more controversial aspects of his legacy, media analysts say.”

Didn’t see that one coming.

Angela Zito, co-director of the Center for Religion and Media at New York University is quoted: “This event put the critical faculties of the media to sleep. They didn’t delve into any of the bad things that happened to Catholicism on his watch.”

Meanwhile, the “San Diego Union-Tribune,” launched a tirade against the Cuban government on Wednesday. “A Flickering Flame: Cuba’s Independent Journalists Need Help,” discussed the Castro regime’s March 2003 crackdown on what’s left of that tropical isle’s rabble rousing class.

It noted that of 75 dissidents arrested, 31 were independent journalists involved in the most courageous kind low-tech, hand-distributed, word-of-mouth publishing. The “Trib” singles out the plight of poet Raul Rivero, who was released, but with the caveat that he keep his couplets to himself.

Others were not so fortunate; 25 remain locked up in the big house.

The editors point out that the United Nations Human Rights Commission ought to cite Cuba for these violations and the fact debate is even necessary, “is a measure of how politically and morally corrupt the U.N.’s annual human rights charade has become.”

Unfortunately, they are right and it’s too bad, because it provides fodder to unserious thinkers like Hannity who have no use for a world body that mediates conflicts and seeks to resolve the problems of hunger and poverty.

the scribe, like most guys on the (glp!) left, has a warm spot in his heart for the Cuban revolution. He thinks the decades-long blockade of the island by the United States is a cruel and vicious policy that has made too many innocents suffer and only served to generate internal sympathy for a regime that might otherwise implode under a lack of spiritual currency.

But that said, it cannot be denied there is something utterly pathetic about Fidel Castro’s long reign and insistence that he knows better than anybody else just how the island should be run.

Decrepit, verbose, rigid, almost quaint if he weren’t so deadly, Fidel has come to fit the prototypical Latin American caudillo described to exquisite perfection in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ “The Autumn of the Patriarch.”

Ditto the theocracy in the Iran, which uses a different set of excuses, these religious, to impart the same kind of oppression upon its people.

the scribe mentions Iran because of another “New York Times” blurb regarding that nation’s decision to keep under wraps the remains of photojournalist Zahra Kazemi. She died in a Tehran jail in 2003. The official explanation was that she “fell and banged her head.”

An Iranian doctor exiled in Canada claims to have examined her and detected signs of rape and torture. Canada asked for her remains, and Iran said no.

We must find time to brood on these individual personal tragedies that end useful lives and do immeasurable damage to those around them. And we must take time to meditate upon the collective tragedy of the Iranian people; lorded over by men so blind to their own unworthiness.

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