The New Heretics
Rome made Galileo a heretic for concluding that the earth was not the center of the universe. It silenced him by house arrest. The day is fast approaching when a bible of correct views will define and silence heretics who argue with it. Debate is closing on opinions entitling you to be tolerated.
Are the accepted views all that wise? What makes them better than unacceptable views? Have we entered a glittering age of enlightenment that it is worth closing down our freedom to think contrary wise, to disassemble the wisdom of the day and disclose where and how it may be wrong? In what ways are the allowed views superior in terms of intellect, common sense, bias and idiosyncrasy? In fact is new age wisdom an improvement on the edicts of the Pope in Rome?
The problem is that our system ticks every box. You go up against the wisdom of the day at your peril. It might cost you as dearly as it cost Galileo .Not sentenced to house arrest but get an ugly name. Disagree with the killing of unwanted human fetuses and you are ‘anti-feminist.” Give voters the right to freely elect a right of center party and you are a white supremacist, or a populist or nationalist or even neo-Nazi. Refuse to define evil by the color white and you are racist. Disprove that Barack Obama, the leftwing black leader, could do no evil while Donald Trump the rightwing white leader can do no good – well, civilized society is not for you. Go up against the correct views and you’ll collect more ugly names than you can wear.
If your nerve ends don’t scream that the planet is doomed from climate change, you’ll be lumped with flat-earth nut heads. If sound and camera bites of border-hopping migrants don’t boil your blood, it means you are cool with the Warsaw Ghetto and extermination camps. Prove by law that Israel occupies no one’s land, and you’re a dirty Zionist.
Those are a smattering of new heresies that will land you under ‘house arrest’ – meaning you’ve lost the right to be tolerated. What may be dished out to you after this defining moment of isolation? Disinvites to public speaking; disruption by unruly students; cold shoulder treatment by media for the politically correct; and most final of all, a death sentence on social media -- Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts may be closed. Were the Middle Ages more closed-minded and less tolerant? Is the college campus much more open than the Vatican that locked up Galileo?
Ours is not the age of thought but the age of what to think.
I was taught a quick lesson of this at a Shabbat table. I ought to have known better than to make sceptical remarks about climate hysteria. Remarks of a heretic. Questions of an unbeliever. Islam calls unbelievers “Infidels.” I wonder what name the faithful give to those who doubt that the world will revert to steam and swamp from carbon emission? I saw zealotry at the table. I saw hurt and anger. I saw kind faces turn nasty. Was I being serious with questions wild and weird?
Like the following. If nuclear power has no carbon footprint and if the end of the world is nigh from carbon emission – well then? How many climate hysterics do you know look to nuclear power for salvation? If you yell, “drowning!”yet refuse a lifejacket because the color is wrong, are you for real? Warnings that we have years to fix the world were being touted in the last century. And how much is the climate industry worth? And how many tens of thousands owe their careers to it? And how many celebs and millionaires owe the good life to it? And what comfy bums sit on UN forums on climate change? And if you follow the money where does the trail lead?
I saw good Jews turn quiet with upset and red with anger. They would not have been half so hurt had I denied the existence of God.
But here is the bottom line, you see. Devotion to the religions of our time is the bottom line. Open borders and climate change and abortion and human rights and Left is good but Right is bad and gender is fluid and diversity trumps merit. These and other new religions had to fill a void left by the failed experiments of bygone days. Nation states led to world wars. Race led to the Holocaust. Class struggle led to Stalin and the Gulag. Hundreds of millions died in the name of false gods. And this may be the problem with the new gods. They are not gods of right and wrong but of right positions and wrong positions
The window permitting free thought is closing even as we breathe. Compared to the Middle Ages the tech age may not be so tolerant and enlightened as we think.
Graphic: Scan of a woodcut from the Book of Martyrs showing Thomas Haukes being burned to death