more mayhem and violence in the name of faith

February 29, 2012 — 4 Comments

Whenever you wonder why you just can’t convince a religious fanatic of a fact that seems evident to you, it may be useful to do a little reading and find a story that illustrates the vast chasm between your worldview and his, the chasm that renders you unable to understand each other. For example, days of deadly protests erupted in Afghanistan when it was discovered that the Army put a bunch of Qu’rans in a box to be burned along with its trash and went ahead with a routine disposal. By the reaction of the Afghan fundamentalist you would think that there was a very limited supply of Qu’rans in the world and burning them meant that their book was going to be erased out of existence. At one time, yes, books were burned to be censored and destroyed because in the ancient world there was no means of true mass production of literature. Nowadays, you can buy a Qu’ran at just about every streetcorner across the world and there are millions of copies in existence. What could be so utterly offensive to someone living in the 21st century about a book being destroyed, especially one that is available globally and has been digitized countless times for download and printing even more copies?

But then again, to me, a book is a book. To them, every copy of their holy text is so sacred that humans should be killed in retribution if it’s damaged or burned. It’s not even the information contained in the pages that’s the important thing to them, information that’s been preserved in every media format we currently have thousands of times over, it’s the thought that someone doesn’t take their religion as seriously as they do that they find so infuriating. This is why Muslim radicals have been going on a rampage across the world, threatening those who dare disobey their demand to live in a world according to them. In the West, the days when the unhinged fundamentalist throng would execute people in the streets for doubting their dogmas are gone. But disturbing numbers of Muslim nations are either too afraid to stop their radicals or tacitly encourage them by allowing an occasional judge or minister in high places to declare open season on the heretics and deliberately refuse to persecute bloodthirsty lunatics who respond to any doubt or question with barbaric violence. And it’s that blind devotion and hatred of violent religious radicals that I find too difficult to even try to understand…

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  • k. montgomery

    What you say here about fundamentalists is undoubtedly true, but it seems to me to be incomplete. You actually hint at the missing part when you write “disturbing numbers of Muslim nations are either too afraid to stop their radicals or tacitly encourage them by allowing an occasional judge or minister in high places to declare open season on the heretics and deliberately refuse to persecute bloodthirsty lunatics who respond to any doubt or question with barbaric violence.”

    The missing part is that any cultural institution of sufficiently large size is inherently driven by political motives more than the motives that originally defined the institution. Or, to refine the thought somewhat, those in charge are more driven by political considerations than anything else.

    The massed crowds who go on rampages are permitted to do so (encouraged?) by the politicians; my question is, are the politicians motivated by the same things as the masses? My own observations indicate that they are not.

    What do the politicians gain from such events?

  • Greg Fish

    Why would you think that politicians are not driven by the same biases? After all they are people raised in the same mix of cultures, aren’t they?

  • Bruce Coulson

    If the Qu’ran is so sacred, why aren’t Muslims protesting the events in Syria with equal or greater fervency? Isn’t Assad destroying Qu’rans in his attacks? And why aren’t protesters simply using the Qu’ran as armor against the police forces in Syria? I believe there is precedent in Islam’s history…

    Politicians, in any country, are driven primarily by the idea of gaining and retaining power, regardless of culture. The culture merely dictates what forms a politician must openly espouse in order to achieve their ends. Yes, politicians are people; but in some ways, the elites of every country are the same. They generally have far more to fear from their own people than outsiders. (The locals are right there, after all.) So, a obvious distraction that focuses any anger towards people outside their own country is valuable. Note that in the United States, anger and fear of Muslims has been raised to a point where some ordinary people can advocate killing all Muslims, wherever they may live, in complete disregard of the common forms of law and decency, and not see any problem with the idea. Which means any anger towards the bad behavior of their own leaders is diffused.

  • Bill

    Something subtile is poking up here: The bigger the political mass, the more potential for jingo fundamentalism (a bigger pool to draw from) and bigger conflicts. vs smaller groups such as diverse socialist parties, or tribal groups. These smaller groups represent their members more accurately, and any failed negotiations only result in local mayhem. Somewhere there is a natural limit on a persons affinity for joining bigger groups, which needs to be defined and institutionalized. Likewise the abilities of bigger groups to dilute and dissolve the smaller need limitation.