Monday, January 01, 2007

A Plank In The Eye

The Courier (Findlay, Ohio) ran an editorial (similar with hundreds of other newspapers) concerning a Libyan court sentencing six truly innocent healthcare workers to death. This particular editorial begins with the line, “In a case that illustrates the cultural divide between the Middle east and West…” it the goes on to condemn the Libyan courts for this obvious miscarriage of justice calling them a “people steeped in irrationality…”. The article concludes with, “During the Middle Ages, Muslims were at the forefront of medical and scientific advances while the West languished in ignorance and superstition. This case illustrates how totally the tables have turned -- in large part due to closed minds and the common Muslim conviction of moral superiority. Judicial murder is not a moral act. If Libya wants to join the civilized world, it needs to make sure that facts and justice rule -- not the ignorance of a mob.”
Let’s insert a Chesterton quote now because this editor has not a clue about the Middle Ages or the fact that it was not a time of ignorance or superstition, (can you say Thomas Aquinas?) “There is something odd in the fact that when we reproduce the Middle Ages it is always some such rough and half-grotesque part of them that we reproduce . . . Why is it that we mainly remember the Middle Ages by absurd things? . . . Few modern people know what a mass of illuminating philosophy, delicate metaphysics, clear and dignified social morality exists in the serious scholastic writers of mediaeval times. But we seem to have grasped somehow that the ruder and more clownish elements in the Middle Ages have a human and poetical interest. We are delighted to know about the ignorance of mediaevalism; we are contented to be ignorant about its knowledge. When we talk of something mediaeval, we mean something quaint. We remember that alchemy was mediaeval, or that heraldry was mediaeval. We forget that Parliaments are mediaeval, that all our Universities are mediaeval, that city corporations are mediaeval, that gunpowder and printing are mediaeval, that half the things by which we now live, and to which we look for progress, are mediaeval."
{"The True Middle Ages," The Illustrated London News, 14 July 1906}
I’m not sure if this editorial is an example of America’s rampant cultural schizophrenia or a celebration of its sort term memory loss. For those of you who think we are still morally superior to the Libyan courts in that we do not commit judicial murder or that we are the bench mark for the civilized world or that we do not follow the ignorance of the mob I have two words for you, Terri Schiavo.


JimmyV said...

Great post, you should send your remarks - along with GK's - into the paper.

Alan Capasso said...

Thanks. I just sent it to them