“All Muslims are potential terrorists”, “Islam is a religion of peace”, “the Religious Right is as bad as any terrorist”, “Islam is evil”, “Christian violence is worse than Islamic violence”. All of these statements can be seen, quite validly, by some people as blatant lies. On the other hand, depending on context, the opposite is true; all of these statements can be seen as arguably true. Put aside partisan reflexes and “certainty” for a moment and just ‘Imagine’ how such a paradox would be explained.
What we have here is a failure to communicate. That is not seen as too great of a tragedy by most of the people who make statements like these; the words are slogans or arrows aimed at an enemy, rarely are they sincere efforts to express actual thoughts, feelings or intents. In the light of this sad truth is becomes easier to see how pundits on all sides routinely conflate many effects, motives, natures and “reasons” in anything as dark and subtlety tangled as humanity’s tendency/habit/nature for killing other people “in the name of God”.
The two major elements in conflict in the statements in the first paragraph are:
- The nature of humans
- The nature of doctrinal scriptures in any particular human religion
“All Muslims are potential terrorists” – Actually, all humans with deep convictions are potential “terrorists”; it comes down to what moral choices a too rigid code of behavior “ordained by God” can put before a person. Anyone with a sincere understanding of the inescapable reality of “I COULD be wrong” is incapable of committing any great harm for their faith.
“Islam is a religion of peace” – Before I get hanged, drowned, burnt at the stake or pressed to death let me explain. The religious/semantic concepts here are familiar to both fundamentalist preacher and Soviet Commissar. In this case ‘peace’ is a word like ‘true’, (Pravda) that has one meaning to the speaker and another to un-indoctrinated listeners. The concept of “peace” in Islam comes down to everyone in reach being happily Muslim or inoffensively and impotently submissive to Muslims. It should also be pointed out that while the it’s scriptures consistently extol individual efforts toward peace, harmony and justice Christian doctrine, also based in scripture, does not even admit the concept of “peace” on Earth until after an apocalyptic Armageddon.
“The religious right are as bad as any terrorist” – O. K., but you have to ignore the massive social, cultural and scriptural differences that make the actual EXPRESSION of the “Our scripture says we are good and just to do (fill in the blank with the heinous crime of your choice), and there is NOTHING you can say or do to change that reality” attitude that many dogmatic religions share a difference between being a ‘pain in the neck’ and cutting someone poor f***’s head off.
“Islam is evil” – It certainly can be; so can total honesty, cheesecake and any given PTA. The one thing that pundits and apologists on all sides seem to selectively mis-remember is that even religions we do not like are protected by the 1st Amendment. Our dilemma, the problem that civil society OUGHT to be trying desperately to solve is how to dispassionately apply the Constitution so as to both preserve the 1st Amendment and rein in Islamic fundamentalists’ ability to “act out” in ways that “break someone’s leg or pick their pocket”. One part of any solution is that any and all laws and rules must be equally applicable and enforceable on any and all religious offenders of secular law who followed their faith into committing positive harm on another person.
“Christian violence is worse than Islamic violence” – That depends on where you are sitting. To the victims over the last 3 hundred years this statement is insultingly false. At the same time, when viewed through the lens of the expected attitudes, actions and reactions for someone desiring to be any accepted form of good Christian the statement is valid; any violence committed is a falling away from the strict path. The core texts of Christianity contain little to no material to stoke the fires of self-righteous human violence in the name of God; that even Christianity and Buddhism have violent pasts says more about human nature than about doctrines that seeks to transcend the darker parts of that nature. Islamic doctrine on the other hand is practically designed to be aggressively self-promoting in an earthly and social as well as religious sense giving freer rein to those who seek justification for their most evil tendencies.
Was that so bad? If anyone’s head exploded I either missed it or they fled to the lobby in time before their PC self-destruct countdown reached zero.
We have a problem people. Let’s stop pretending that we can only operate in the box, or out of the box; THERE IS NO BOX. There is reality, life and hope; patterns to perceive and problems to be solved.
America is not a zero-sum equation!
- S. Dear reader, did anyone notice that the terms conservative, liberal, progressive, democrat, republican, Obama, Palin, Sharpton, Limbaugh, MSM, Fox, tea bagger, left-wing and right-wing are missing from this piece?
It is almost as if, now tell me if I am wrong, as if those terms, those ‘boxes’, are useless in such a conversation. Who knows, they might even get in the way of first understanding actual problems and then solving those issues to the general satisfaction of reality, the Constitution and the public, (or republic if you are finicky) for which it stands.