It’s ALL red cups — but it’s not
Early last week, a self-styled evangelist held the Internet by the throat, protesting yet another supposed assault by the secular world in their never-ending war on Christmas. Holding up a plain red cup from Starbucks, Joshua Feuerstein, proceeded to rant and rave in a selfie-video about the utter horror of the coffee franchise stripping the aforementioned scarlet cup of any and all religious icons for the upcoming blessed event (decorations that never existed in the first place, but why let that stand in the way of a good rant?).
Short, but sweet, he offered a weak-ass comeback to one-up the Seattle based uber-corporation before brandishing a gun that most likely held more bullets in the clip than neurons bouncing around under his hat. It was great theater and everyone took the bait.
For any right-minded secular humanist, this was like being offered a large bowl of red meat and we pounced with righteous glee. However, within a few days everyone grew tired of the repetitive memes and spit out the evangelical chew toy in search of the next indignity.
In the days that followed, Christians, both left and right of the political spectrum, were bemoaning the fact this huckster had nominated himself the representative in the eyes of the world for all things Jesus. Most, if not nearly every Christian, didn’t agree with his blathering, nor wished to be painted with the same broad brush as the crimson cup poser.
All and all, it was an interesting and seemingly harmless interlude, but the full measure of the moment failed to come to mind until a real world event stormed in and blew all the silliness away.
In the late evening hours last Friday, three squads of terrorists spread across Paris and unleashed a murderous barrage of gunfire from their Kalashnikov rifles, firing indiscriminately at unarmed civilians without mercy. In the aftermath, La Ville-Lumière — the city of light — darkened a moment under the unprecedented assault, but only for a moment. The casualty numbers are still in flux, but hundreds have been killed and wounded, their families grievously ripped apart forever by this attack. Seven of the gunmen died by their own hands, detonating the explosive belts they wore. May their numbers never be included in any casualty list from that evening.
The next day, ISIS, the ultra militant offshoot of al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility.
In this country a verbal barrage followed, forming all too familiar patterns. Even before the last body hit the ground, Rubio, Cruz, Trump, and Christie — the four horse’s asses of the apocalypse — had thrown in their two-cents, demanding a greater hard-line approach, but offering no specifics as to the where, or to the how. Thus proving once again no demonstrative ability in hefting the stick that would draw the line in the sand. Ironically, even Jeb Bush poked his head out of a bottomless hole long enough to remind most clear thinking individuals that it was his brother and Igor-like companion who were responsible for teasing the thread out of the Mid-East ragdoll, only to watch it unravel into the hell it is today.
Mixed into the weekend’s diatribe was the oft-repeated effort by the ‘Right’ (an oxymoron if there ever was) to slap a label on ISIS, al-Qaeda, and/or the Taliban, under the general heading of “radical Islam.” That these terrorist groups exist is tragically obvious, but we gain no tactical advantage whatsoever by hanging this descriptive round their necks. So what is the point? Could conservative pundits by inference, or outright declaration, be attempting to cast all of the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims as simply terrorists in waiting? Would the GOP really use “foreigners” to bait their base in order to build an electorate? Mexicans one week, Muslims and refugees this week? You can bet the next election on it.
In the end, the ‘red cup’ video and the assault on Paris, have little to do with religion. Both Feuerstein and the leadership of ISIS play the same game (albeit, Feurstein’s silliness is on an entirely different level and relatively harmless). Like the charlatans they are, they push all the right buttons and utter holy recitations — all the while asserting they are true representatives of a higher power. But it’s a charade — a sham. Like every megalomaniac, they are driven by the same age-old human frailties of power, politics, ego and self-enrichment. In the crassest possible terms, it’s marketing gone amuck. They are simply building a brand, developing a following of the gullible and disenfranchised. Make no mistake here — there is no God in this mix. They are attempting to exert their will upon a secular landscape in the name of a deity that is not talking to them.
With a modicum of effort, any dullard can see through these veiled machinations, but time and again we play straight into their hands. Feuerstein has his 15, I just wish it hadn’t been on my watch. However, ISIS, the perfect bogey man, has now recharged the GOP lynch mob into casting all Muslims in with the terrorist group. One wonders if there are any Christians left out there who recall how it felt to be painted in colors not to their liking by the reactive backlash of a stupid cup video they had no control over.