The Other Neo-Orientalism: Traditional Christianity as Viewed in The Modern World

In the wake of the recent Sri Lanka terrorist attacks on various churches on Easter Sunday, leaving nearly 300 dead, and 500 wounded, the response from western media outlets have ranged from passive indifference, to outright offensive takes and victim-blaming (one wonders what possesses certain blue-check Journos to concoct such terrible takes, like outright implying the victims deserve it because Christians dare to spread the faith while doing charitable good works).

One response from the Washington Post claims that the most outrageous thing about this mass act of religiously-motivated terrorism is not the violence and terrible deaths of the victims itself, but rather that the “far-right” is “using this attack” to “stoke anger and fear in the West“; Now this article is callous, ugly, anti-Christian, and tone-deaf on several different levels. It is a cynical ploy at scoring political points, ignoring the motivations of Islamic terror, and standing atop the bodies in the most shallow way possible. The article demonizes the Right for merely pointing out reality, like the inability of various political and media figures to even utter the word “Christians”, instead using PC jargon like “Easter Worshipers“. The New Zealand Terrorist attack was met with a rightful immediacy to point out that this was an attack on Muslims, but pointing this out is an act of the “Far-Right” according to the Washington Post. The article goes further in implying that the continuous attack on Christians around the world is not a real fact, but merely a narrative used by the ominous and evil Right Wing to foment xenophobia.

Combine this with former President Obama saying that the Easter Bombings are an “attack against humanity” and not specifically an act of anti-Christian terrorism. There is a purposeful act of distancing motive from the reality of this attack, and implementing a subtext, that of an appeal to nebulous humanism, one that can only be produced by a venerated, secular media saint of the Post-Christian west. it seems there is this narrative-dichotomy in our current  media ecology in relation to Christianity in particular, let me explain…

For years, as the “West” secularized, became decadent, digitized, vivisected itself till there was nothing left to culturally mutilate, religion was placed not just at the periphery of public life; not just within the realm of the private individual, but totally externalized, even from so-called “private” individual consciousness. The unconsciousness upsurge of religiosity, like all “primitive” things (at least as the are characterized by western neo-imperial globalized forces), even mass production and industrialism, was displaced to the non-western world. Religiosity in essence became another tool of production, it is a thing that slave labor populations in the third world use to protect themselves against alienation. while at the same time in the West, economically, culturally and spiritually displaced/alienated masses use various forms of hedonistic pursuits as soma and escapism, to fill the void that de-Christianized society left in its wake.

Now we have this dichotomy.  One side of it goes as follows: Christianity is now becoming an acceptable from of Orientalism to the mainstream media and academic institutions, neither “new age” (like eastern wisdom schools appropriated in the west) nor postmodern, it is a reverse-appropriation. Rather than The West importing “enlightenment” (because enlightened society failed), this was not good enough, so we take this and import “mindfulness”, while Christianity is dumped onto the third world as a form of mass collective unconscious cleansing.

Islam is yet another Eastern exotic “other” in the affirmative sense (for now, as the neoliberal globalists will eventually come for them, too) that western, white liberals do not fully understand, but pay lip-service to. Christianity is becoming a neo-orientalist other in the negative sense. Only “primitive” third world people, only those brown people “over there” are not as sophisticated as us, so they believe in the teachings and divinity of Christ. This is coupled with quite a reverberation in the cathedral media that affirms this bias as of late. The Notre Dame Cathedral will eventually be colonized by modernity, and uprooted from its European Catholic context, thus serve as a homage to the power of secular western modernity, proficient in tearing down and effacing the moments to its Christian past.

Christianity will in time be viewed as a product of the third world, specifically Catholicism and certain forms of African Evangelicalism. Orthodoxy, at least in North America, is already seen through the lens of that oddly acceptable American form of anti-Slavic xenophobia present since at least the ’90s. Orthodoxy is alien to the North American mind, and therefore equated with that strange land that borders on the East, collectivism, Oriental despotism, lack of secularization, cold and dingy post-soviet aesthetics, etc. At least, this is how Orthodoxy is viewed in the minds of the ruling North American political and media classes, even complete with the old Post-Cold war boomer suspicion of the Eastern bloc.

The other side of the dichotomy is present in this very article from the Post. Christianity, at least its reconstituted traditionalist versions that will survive still in the West, at least in an increasingly underground capacity, will be treated as a Right Wing reactionary threat. Again, an importation of this Neo-Orientalism in the negative sense, already Christianity (especially of the traditionalist variety)  is viewed by leftist media outlets as a private hobby of primitives, “knuckle-dragging” troglodytes and Luddites, etc. Christianity present in non-western migrants will further be treated as a point of exoticist condescension, baggage from those primitive non-western countries, an impulse that will slowly fade in time, to be filled by liberal secular humanism and the pursuit of maximum pleasure. The still existing western forms of Christian traditionalism will, like the various social taboos and attitudes towards oriental populations in the past, be treated as a cultural vestige. You will be labelled a “Right Wing Primitive” in the pejorative sense, equated with the third-world masses.

This will in time open up new spaces of globalized alienation to take root. All of the persecution of Christians in the non-west is already being treated as just another fact of life in these places, or as the product of simply living as a primitive “clinging to their religion” as Obama said back in the day. The insular attitude most westerners have in terms of what news to pay attention to plays into this callousness when hearing about these terrorist attacks with high body-counts. They are so frequent, so “indicative” of these peoples that we choose to not get terribly worked up about them. When most people in the west hear that Christians are under attack, they do not see it as concurrent with a greater threat of persecution the way say, racially motivated violence is indicative of systemic racism in western society. Christianity is viewed as being solely “western” and therefore majoritarian (and by this logic, Christians are not worthy of or afforded any social protections by the Cathedral networks).

When authentic Christianity that emanates from non-western populations is being persecuted, the attacks are then universalized into a counter- narrative. These terrorist acts are either indicative of baseless destruction, the kind that is all too common in the third world, or masked by other non-religious considerations such as ethnic and political conflicts. Either way, the media and institutional response to anti-Christian terrorism is designed to either cut these attacks of the Christian element, or to otherize the recent spring of trad Christianity in the Third world, and view it through the lens of an allowable Neo-orientalism.

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