June 12, 2009
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Self Critique and Privatizing Religion - By Kay Azadabeen

Severe historical discriminations could lead to inflated statements by members of the minority groups. Such statements might undermine instead of promote the cause of the minorities. Humor, self critique, and self corrections are valuable tools in reversing such an undermining impact.

In an article titled An Open letter to President Obama, a Kurdish author that reminds me of a typical grandpa argues that the oppression of the 50 millions Kurds should have been mentioned in the president’s speech addressed to the Muslim world. I immediately noticed the inflated nature of the grandpa’s statement. Then I reviewed my own article titled Abolishing Religion for Peace and realized that I too had made an inflated suggestion. The inflated statement of both of us reminded me of an episode of Bill Cosby’s show.

Dr. Huxstable’s father in the Cosby’s show asks about the progress of his grandson, Theo. The Grandpa asks Bill how tall Theo is. He answers 5 feet tall. The Grandpa claims he was 6 feet when he was at Theo’s age. Then he asks what grades Theo gets at school. He answers average grades. Grandpa claims, he was always above average, when he was his age. After few other inflated remarks, grandpa asks how old Theo is. He answers 13. Grandpa claims at Theo’s age he was 15. Theo first becomes disappointed and then recognizes that grandpa could not have been 15 years old at the age of 13. Theo gains his confidence back and recognizes that he does not have to be perfect, since grandpa himself could not be as perfect as he claims. Through such and many other gentle and humorous internal critiques the comedian, author, and producer Bill Cosby probably has done his community a much greater service than many of his fellow black authors in America, who criticize others instead of themselves first.

Similar to Theo’s grandpa, the Kurdish grandpa undermines the credibility of his argument by claiming that the Kurds are 50 million. The governments estimate that the Kurds might range form 10 to 20 millions in all parts of Kurdistan. The Kurdish opposition groups claim to be 40 million including the ones that have forgotten their own identity. Adding 10 more million to an already questionable number of 40 million does not necessarily add to the credibility of the argument; it only reflects its inflated nature. The Kurdish cause is not about numbers, but about fighting a profound discrimination that has prevented them from speaking their own language, running their own affairs, and going through developmental stages that other independent nations have gone through. Once the Kurds have a state, then they could determine the exact number of their population via official census.

In addition, the majority of Kurds might not care to be included in an address to the Muslim world. Obama’s exclusion of the Kurds in his speech is not necessarily ignoring the Kurds; in contrary, it could be interpreted as respecting the Kurdish original heritage and identity. Kurds were not Muslim originally and picked up Islam by default and not by choice. If Obama was addressing Germans, he probably would not have included the Jewish people, although many Jews speak German.

While the Kurdish grandpa expects that the Kurds should be included in an address to the Muslim world, I had argued that all religions should be abolished in order to have world peace. Retrospectively I see that my argument is also useless for the Kurdish cause. Whether right or wrong, the overwhelming majority of the world is religious. When abolishing religion is suggested by me as a Kurd, I am in fact fighting the whole religious world without knowing the challenge I am facing. The Kurds are already fighting four strong enemies in the Middle East and do not need to make the religious world their enemy too. Instead of abolishing religion, I should have suggested denationalizing and privatizing it, as it is the case in non-Islamic countries.

In short, inflated statements might be a reaction to people’s historical minority status. Such statements should be avoided and revised as much as possible in order to make a credible argument against discrimination.


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