By Diogenes ( articles ) | May 18, 2007
Amazonian Indians, through their spokeswonk, expressed outrage at the remarks the Pope made in Brazil. You'd need a heart of stone, as Mr. Wilde says, not to laugh.
Outraged Indian leaders in Brazil said on Monday they were offended by Pope Benedict's "arrogant and disrespectful" comments that the Roman Catholic Church had purified them and a revival of their religions would be a backward step.
"It's arrogant and disrespectful to consider our cultural heritage secondary to theirs," said Jecinaldo Satere Mawe, chief coordinator of the Amazon Indian group Coiab.
Sure, sure. A typical Amazonian Indian media briefing, complete with press packets of the kind given to Pedro Alvares Cabral on his arrival in 1500.
It's all an agit-prop stunt, of course, but in this case the ironies ram a lot of political elbows through a lot of historical windows. The practice of "taking offense" in a public official manner was unheard of before identity politics made its appearance in the North American faculty lounge, and it's grotesque to imagine that those Brazilian native peoples who have a genuine spiritual connection with indigenous religion (as opposed to a spurious relation contrived for reasons of ideological expedience) would be inclined to "listen in" to a papal discourse addressed to someone else so as to feel wounded at a perceived slight.
It would be interesting to know how -- to the extent they care at all what others think -- the different tribal religions in Brazil actually speak about one another, how they deal with their own contradictions and mutual antagonisms. Are we to picture the courtesies of the Oriel Senior Common Room at work in their ecumenical outreach listening sessions? ("A final word if I may. The Presiding Priestess sends her apologies and regrets to say she will be unable to attend this evening's plenary meeting because she was eaten by her nephew. The senior precentor has kindly agreed to chair the discussion in her stead ...")
Note to Jecinaldo: if you're going to play the indigenous Indian card to provoke a Western audience to indignation and sympathy, give yourself another title than Chief Coordinator. Sends the wrong message.
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