Monday, January 12, 2015

One Of These Things Is (Not) Like The Other



I was watching "Real Time" when the panel, which included Salman Rushdie, who should know a bit about the subject, and Carly Fiorina, who has an iron-clad case against her plastic surgeon, discussed the desire of radical Islam to take the world back a few centuries, impose their perverse view of their religion on everyone, eliminate all but their form of education, deny science, consider women nothing more than vessels. And I wondered if at some point they'd get around to the obvious. They didn't, of course, and I probably shouldn't, either.

Is it possible to say this without implying equivalence? Because I don't. I don't equate the Islamists who are able to rationalize their murderous inhumanity on the basis of their religion with those in the US who'd take us back a few centuries, impose their perverse view of their religion on everyone, eliminate all but their form of education, deny science, consider women nothing more than vessels. It's been a long time since they killed anywhere near as many people, and it's unlikely they ever will again. Not as long as they can continue to impose their views via the voting booth, aided by the deceptions and distractions of their "news" media.

But it's not as if there are no similarities; in motivation, if not in method. Not in spilled blood, of course; but, were they to succeed, in danger to progress, freedom, diversity, curiosity, invention. And, clearly, there are similarities in the kind of mentality that sees otherness as a threat; whose need for certainty, based, presumably, on an undeniably human fear of the unknown and of facing life as it is, is so strong that even knowing there are those who don't see things their way threatens to unfloat their moat. And, it might be said, who feel set upon and persecuted whenever other-believers push back and demand respect. That mindset, which manifests itself to a greater or lesser degree along a broad spectrum of intolerance, is something shared by some people of many faiths.

If the need for certainty can lead to intolerance in believers of all religions, it's undeniable that at this time in history Islam leads the world in committing violence in its name. I wonder if the Christianist politicians in the US are, on some level, happy about that, as it keeps us distracted from the extent to which they're trying to do the same thing, with less horrifying methods but not entirely less worrisome implications.

And I wonder if and when, like the millions of people who just rallied in Paris, including many thousands of Muslims, Christians in the US who don't share dreams of an American theocracy, and who likely outnumber those who do, will feel the need to vote them out of office. And do it.


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