The dictionary definition of an idol: an image or representation of a god used as an object of worship, from Latin idolum ‘image, form’, from Greek eidolon, from eidos ‘form, shape.’
The colossal form of a female deity towers above New York harbour; it is a gigantic idol. There! We have named it without a trace of irony, metaphor or analogy. The Statue of Liberty is an idol because it is the physical representation of what has become, in this age, the foremost deity in the new pantheon of intangible divinities in whose name people strive to fulfil their highest purpose in life: Freedom.
What has not been sanctioned in this age in the name of freedom and liberty? We know about grubby little Edward Bernais, the devil of Manhattan, teaching corporations how to preach cancer to women, who in turn, willingly offer up their inviolable health, and the health of their unborn offspring, on the insatiate altar of Freedom. That was at the beginning of a new dispensation which allowed corporations to subject the defenceless masses to the doctrines of public relations.
But what are we to make then of Arab peoples on the rampage right across the Middle East and North Africa in the name of Freedom? Muslims are the first of all the people on Earth who ought to recognise idolatry. We, after all, have a teaching based on the utter rejection of idolatry. It is the sine qua non of Islam. Even if we can be deceived by craftily concealed idolatry, by dark shadows flitting across the heart, surely, we ought to recognise this towering invitation to open shirk! There has probably been no more brazen idol in all history. Have the Arabs become completely blind? Have the Muslims fallen prey to complacency?
McLuhan said: “Only the small secrets need to be protected. The big ones are kept secret by public incredulity.” What more need I say about the Statue of Liberty? Indeed, what more need I say about the phantasmagoria of freedom? There they stand right in the open towering over us as naked idols and completely concealed by being so openly on display.
(Published on the Muslims of Norwich website at the height of the ‘Arab Spring’.)