Last Monday was Veteran’s Day, and like most Americans, I love two things about our country: our veterans and our wars. Our veterans are so nice we celebrate them twice. If they lived, they get Veteran’s Day and if they fell, they get Memorial Day.Everything else in America gets celebrated only once. Except Jesus. We celebrate his life on the day with the presents and his death on the one with the chocolate. If aliens wanted to know what things Americans really care about, they could look at which things we celebrate twice and conclude that we love soldiers and Jesus. And we especially love soldiers for Jesus. I’ll get to that in a minute.
We also like wars. Especially World War II. No war is as good as World War II – fought by the elderly to free the world from tyranny and earn them a lifetime pass to call black people “shvartzes” and nag about why you didn’t go to law school (I only know elderly Jewish people). But we’re generally warming up to all wars old people fought in – the anger over Vietnam has subsided as its veterans get older and we realize the rich cultural legacy the war left in the form of John Rambo, James Braddock, and Country Joe and the Fish.
We love wars so much, we make things wars even when they aren’t military. President Johnson declared war on poverty, Reagan on drugs, and Bush on terrorism.
Ok, so we went 0 for 3 on those. But you don’t even have to President to declare war. Atheists declared a War on Christmas (lost) and fetuses declared a War on Women (draw). Sometimes, wars pop up when you’re just standing around being a shmuck. Senator Rand Paul discovered a War on Christianity. All this time, there’s been a war on the world’s most practiced religion, and it took Rand Paul to call our attention to it. According to Paul, Christians are under greater threat now than they were in the Middle Ages, when they were threatened with exhaustion from all the Crusading, stake-burning, and Inquisitioning.
Rand Paul is right. Or, whoever he plagiarized the speech from is right. He’s also right in that it’s better to crib the plot from Gattaca on Wikipedia than to actually watch it. But what the person whose ideas he stole may not know is that Christians are finally going on the offensive. We have soldiers for Jesus and they’ve picked their battlefield. It’s called the 10/40 Window. 10/40 is like WD40, only instead of stopping the squeaks of door hinges, it stops the squeaky prayers of brown people to figures other than Christ. No, really. 10/40 refers to a band of Africa and Asia from ten degrees north of the equator to forty degrees north. Apparently, evangelicals have been aware of this long neglected area – where 60-odd percent of the world lives – since the term was coined in the early 90s. There are literally billions of “spiritually impoverished” Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus engaging in a War on Christianity by using a cunning strategy of not giving a damn about it.
Every American war needs a man who lives by his own code. A man outside the system who fights for justice. A man who lives by the motto “No Rules, Just Right.” A man who doesn’t care that this is the slogan for Outback Steakhouse, because nothing is more American than a crappy slab of meat served in a family casual restaurant chain in the parking lot of a mall.
And that brings me to the Father of the White Tiger, the nom de guerre (but not in a French way) of the leader of the Free Burma Rangers, a real life A-Team in The War on Christianity. Father of the White Tiger is the son of former American missionaries, a former Army Ranger, and a guy who compares himself to the Hobbits. His name refers to his young daughter, who accompanies him on his missions, because soldiers in the War on Christianity don’t care about being charged with reckless child endangerment.
If you’re like me, you probably can’t stop following the news about Burma. One hundred thirty five ethnic groups, a military junta that may be opening up after decades of repression, and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi – a woman so powerful and charming she even got Hillary Clinton to dress like her.
Unfortunately, Burma and Congress still have two things in common: they both fetishize the military and they both like screwing minorities. I once dated a girl who took a single comparative religion class in college and concluded that Buddhism was a universally peaceful religion with lots of cool ideas about reincarnation. That girl was an idiot. The Buddhist ethnic Burmans who run the country are beating the snot out of the Muslim and Christian minority groups.
Thank God for Father of the White Tiger and the Free Burma Rangers. They work with Christian guerilla fighters in the jungles of Burma to document human rights abuses by the Burmese army, provide medical assistance, and assist the hundreds of thousands of displaced people. Also, they bring the Lord, in the form of counselors from the Good Life Club. Because why wouldn’t you? There’s none of the of squishiness of traditional missionary work, as the leader says: “We stand with the villagers; we’re not above them. If they don’t run from the government troops, we don’t either.”
This kind of thing gets my American blood pumping. I love inspirational stories about proud American warriors persevering against incredible odds. Remember Jessica Lynch, emptying her rifle before becoming a hostage to barbarous Iraqis and then being rescued by US Special Forces? And Pat Tillman, leaving the NFL to fight in Afghanistan only to be killed by enemy soldiers? Remember how both those stories weren’t, strictly speaking, true? Doesn’t matter. Kicking ass matters, whether it’s real or fictional. A small team of Christian soldiers righteously fighting evil in the jungles of Burma is powerful stuff, and it almost sounds like the plot of a Rambo movie.
And here’s where the fiction of Hollywood and Senator Paul and reality come together. It IS the plot of a Rambo movie. The one you didn’t see that came out in 2008. It opens with documentary footage shot by the Free Burma Rangers. The film is officially banned in Burma, but a huge hit with the various rebel groups who especially like Rambo’s slogan, “Live for Nothing, Die for Something.” It doesn’t matter that it makes no sense – the slogan was actually one of three things they loved. The other two were his giant pectoral muscles and the complete denial of the fact he’s 61 and looks every year of it. What could be more American than that?
Well, one could make a terrible sequel in a 30 year old movie franchise and then retroactively claim that your goal was to draw attention to one of the world’s most repressive regimes. That’s the kind of cashing in we love in America. Like when Rand Paul, a US Senator, can plagiarize a speech and then claim himself as a victim of a shadowy organization known as the Footnote Police. Interesting that the Footnote Police made themselves known so soon after Paul revealed the War on Christianity.
I guess we know which side attribution, accuracy, and the truth are on.
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