THE VIEW FROM MY POND

the online presence of Don Keayes

Tag: political correctness

A most gruesome competition

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has claimed, quite rightly, that Christianity is “the most persecuted religion worldwide.” This didn’t go down too well with her hosts in Tel Aviv, since Jews feel entitled to claim that title for themselves (bizarrely so, given the gruesome nature of the competition. Of course, their 6.5 million deaths in the Holocaust just doesn’t compared with the 60 million or so who died under Chairman Mao but that’s for a whole other post.)

Writing in the UK’s Telegraph newspaper, Rupert Shortt agrees with Merkel and asks why such a huge scourge is chronically under-reported in the West. He says about 200 million Christians face daily discrimination or persecution: it just isn’t fashionable to say so.

Imagine the unspeakable fury that would erupt across the Islamic world if a Christian-led government in Khartoum had been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Sudanese Muslims over the past 30 years. Or if Christian gunmen were firebombing mosques in Iraq during Friday prayers. Or if Muslim girls in Indonesia had been abducted and beheaded on their way to school, because of their faith.

Such horrors are barely thinkable, of course. But they have all occurred in reverse, with Christians falling victim to Islamist aggression. Only two days ago, a suicide bomber crashed a jeep laden with explosives into a packed Catholic church in Kaduna, northern Nigeria, killing at least eight people and injuring more than 100… Other notable trouble spots include Egypt, where 600,000 Copts – more than the entire population of Manchester – have emigrated since the 1980s in the face of harassment or outright oppression.

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“You are not special!”

Doing the rounds at the moment is this YouTube video of an American High School teacher delivering a thoroughly politically incorrect graduation speech. It’s quite long but well worth the read. Wonderful!

Dr Wong, Dr Keough, Mrs Novogroski, Ms Curran, members of the board of education, family and friends of the graduates, ladies and gentlemen of the Wellesley High School class of 2012, for the privilege of speaking to you this afternoon, I am honored and grateful. Thank you.

So here we are … commencement … life’s great forward-looking ceremony. (And don’t say, “What about weddings?” Weddings are one-sided and insufficiently effective. Weddings are bride-centric pageantry. Other than conceding to a list of unreasonable demands, the groom just stands there. No stately, hey-everybody-look-at-me procession. No being given away. No identity-changing pronouncement. And can you imagine a television show dedicated to watching guys try on tuxedos? Their fathers sitting there misty-eyed with joy and disbelief, their brothers lurking in the corner muttering with envy. Left to men, weddings would be, after limits-testing procrastination, spontaneous, almost inadvertent … during halftime … on the way to the refrigerator. And then there’s the frequency of failure: statistics tell us half of you will get divorced. A winning percentage like that’ll get you last place in the American League East. The Baltimore Orioles do better than weddings.)

But this ceremony … commencement … a commencement works every time. From this day forward … truly … in sickness and in health, through financial fiascos, through midlife crises and passably attractive sales reps at trade shows in Cincinnati, through diminishing tolerance for annoyingness, through every difference, irreconcilable and otherwise, you will stay forever graduated from high school, you and your diploma as one, ’til death do you part.

No, commencement is life’s great ceremonial beginning, with its own attendant and highly appropriate symbolism. Fitting, for example, for this auspicious rite of passage, is where we find ourselves this afternoon, the venue. Normally, I avoid clichés like the plague, wouldn’t touch them with a ten-foot pole, but here we are on a literal level playing field. That matters. That says something. And your ceremonial costume … shapeless, uniform, one-size-fits-all. Whether male or female, tall or short, scholar or slacker, spray-tanned prom queen or intergalactic X-Box assassin, each of you is dressed, you’ll notice, exactly the same. And your diploma … but for your name, exactly the same.

All of this is as it should be, because none of you is special.

You are not special. You are not exceptional.

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