My colleagues and I often care for patients suffering from hallucinations, prophesying, and claiming to speak with God, among other symptoms—in mental health care, it’s sometimes very difficult to tell apart religious belief from mental illness…. Our conclusions frequently stem from the behaviors we see before us. Take an example of a man who walks into an emergency department, mumbling incoherently. He says he’s hearing voices in his head, but insists there’s nothing wrong with him. He hasn’t used any drugs or alcohol. If he were to be evaluated by mental health professionals, there’s a good chance he might be diagnosed with a psychotic disorder like schizophrenia. But what if that same man were deeply religious? What if his incomprehensible language was speaking in tongues?
Ultra-Orthodox Jews have rioted repeatedly in the past week, burning tires, assaulting policemen and damaging police cars. A 32-year-old ultra-Orthodox man was arrested Thursday morning carrying a homemade explosive device. Under questioning, the man said he wanted to plant the explosive along the parade route, said police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld.
Marchers carried multicolored balloons and posters of Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama. Three men wore matching pink T-shirts, shiny pink hats and carried pink lace umbrellas. On their shirts were written, “The Israeli Gay Party.”
Strange how homophobia can unite old enemies. I assume that the leaders of Hamas would also be rather upset if a gay pride march took place in Gaza. Some of Hamas’ members would probably enthusiastically cheer on the killing of some homosexuals in Jerusalem. I always find it sad that people who have been persecuted and oppressed – like those Orthodox Jews, the Hamas supporters, some Afrikaners – can turn around and condemn and persecute other groups for no reason than that they are different or affront some strange moral code.
Of course, it is also interesting that the news reports did not refer to the Orthodox bomber as a “terrorist”. I could not find any statements about the “war on terror” (what a ridiculous term) or the evil of those who unleash “terror” against gay men and lesbians. Is this, I wonder cynically, because the target was not “innocent”, “straight”, “pure” “Jewish” or “white” people, but only “filthy” and “perverted” homosexuals?
Or does the Western media reserve the term “terrorist” for those who are not “Western”, but “other” – usually black and/or Muslim? Will an Orthodox Jew ever be called a “terrorist” in the Western media? I doubt it.
It reminds one that concepts like “terror” and “terrorist” have been completely hijacked and politicized by George Bush and his cronies and have, in essence, become meaningless slogans used to brand opponents. Not that meaningless, I suppose, because many people still buy into the division between “our” freedom fighters and “their” terrorists.
When the US or Israel governments bomb civilians it is not called terrorism. It is “war” or anti-terror action. Maybe it is time that we stop using this meaningless but very intimidating term altogether.