Saviour politics

Pious governments have a habit of stirring emotions at devout gatherings — always covered my government media — which make religious masses the world over ooh and ahh at their saintly leadership. The right statement at the right time about feeding their brothers in faith in the face of the intolerable actions of others will always go down a treat, whatever the political intent behind their well-chosen words. In these peculiar times, all across social media the faithful will gush over their intervention, lauding their astute religiosity without pause.

In times of crisis, pious governments spring to life, casting themselves into the role of defender of the oppressed, ever ready to intervene in the strongest possible terms on the very issue about which the masses have already been mobilised.

In kind, their admirers worldwide celebrate them as the rightful leader of all people everywhere, always willing to talk to power in defence of the voiceless. Detractors who note inconsistencies in the causes they champion and their selective invocation of brotherhood in times of need are to be banished and excommunicated. There will be no wondering how much of their advocacy is sincere and how much the voice of political expediency: such questions are sacrilege.

So nobody dares ask how a nation can castigate another for a blockade of its rich ally, whilst simultaneously supporting the same nation in the blockade of one of the poorest nations on earth, as it slips towards famine and epidemic. Is it enough to berate the hundreds of thousands of civilians affected by these actions as terrorists, for them to forgo the special pleading on behalf of your brothers in faith?

This brotherhood of faith, it turns out, is a highly fluid concept, evoked in some situations, if the conditions are right, and pragmatically ignored when it serves no real strategic gain, or speaks of inconvenient truths. A nation may invoke the spectre of brotherhood in defence of one insurgent separatist movement, whilst simultaneously conducting military operations against its own. Its brothers there become terrorists, to be annihilated in defence of the integrity of the nation. And the willing masses largely agree, incapable of seeing beyond the simplistic binaries of these spokesmen of the faithful.

And so of course we will make excuses for those that seek to enrage us with images of past conflicts repurposed for today. And so of course we will justify the deaths of thousands on the wrong side of the sectarian or political divide, while we weep over thousands more, because those that lead us told us when to weep, and when to turn away indifferently. And in the meantime, innocent civilians everywhere pay the unimaginable cost, because, for all their bold words, our pious saviour figures have no answers, except how they will win back votes at the next election, which is all that really matters.

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