Indonesia's 1965 Atheist Holocaust
Also sponsored by Labyrinths at PeacefulJewelry
The last few days I have been reading Eliza Griswold's well-written, detailed yet fascinating account of the modern proselytizing competition between Christians and Moslems, The Tenth Parallel: Dispatches from the Fault Line Between Christianity and Islam. My wife Jan heard Eliza interviewed on NPR, got the book from our local library (that paragon of government-in business socialism), and allowed me to grab it. I'll have to buy a copy; I want it in my permanent collection.
It reminded me of another "incident" in history that can be characterized as an atheist holocaust. The largest atheist holocaust I know of was run by the Catholic Church's and Adolf Hitler (with help from General Franco and less Catholic fascist leaders like Petain) [see The Atheist Holocaust.]
This one, which took place in Indonesia from about 1965 to 1966 after Suharto made himself an American-friendly dictator.
Some of the victims of the holocaust were without a doubt Communists, which means they were atheists. Most American historians would therefore classify their murders as political, not religious. Okay, legitimate killings, as the only good communist (or anti-U.S. rebel of any kind) is a dead communist.
But of course it could not be that simple, even at the height of the Cold War, when President Lyndon Johnson (the Democratic Party leader) and the United States of America had its hands full committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in Vietnam.
According to Griswold (and confirmed by other sources) "militant Islamists manned Suharto's death squads." Further "Since converting to a state-approved religion prevented people from being charged as godless Communists, many Indonesians did ... the state outlawed the Chinese practice of Confucianism; most Chinese turned to Christianity instead."
Any murder is abhorrent for any reason, but in sorting these mass murders out it is important to understand what is going on. Communism angers Capitalists, and vice versa, that at least seems natural. But Christian socialism and Islamic socialism don't inspire the kind of hatred in Christians and Moslems, respectively, as atheistic socialism does. The Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI) was participating in the government under Sukarno and had some success getting land redistributed to poor Indonesians. The rich landowners being Moslem, they were able to combine self-interest with religious fervor. Estimates of atheists killed range from a low of about 500,000 on up.
The Wikipedia article, Indonesian Killings of 1965-1966, has a good level of detail.
Comparing this to Hitler's more famous actions against non-Christians, begin with the political element. Hitler's Nazi goons started killing communists and socialists before they started killing people just for being Jewish. Many communist and socialist leaders were Jewish by descent, but not religious Jews. They were atheists; all good Marxists were. That is why the Catholic Church led by the two fascist Popes, Pius XI & Pius XII, engineered Hitler's rise to power. He was the Church's tool to destroy atheism. The biggest group of atheists were in Russian, which just happened to be communist, which the Church did not like much either.
The Tenth Parallel mainly chronicles the battle between Christianity and Islam. The danger of both groups to modern, pagan, agnostic and atheist people is something of a side story.
The Tenth Parallel also reinforces my view that the U.S. government remains anti-atheist and anti-Islamic. Officially, of course, it is impartial. But with a variety of Christian and Islamic (and Jewish) groups killing each other, why is it that essentially all of the groups designated as terrorist by the U.S. are Islamic? Groups that do the same thing, if they are Christian, are not considered terrorists. If you want to give to Christian charities abroad, no problem. Try giving to Islamic charities, and Obama's FBI thugs will be at your door step.
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