Going far afield from the post it followed, the Comment of the Day from texaggo4 examines the tricky question of whether militant, radical or extremist Muslims can be fairly regarded as representative of the faith. Taking off from a comment by Penn (in the blocks), tex examines various ways of analyzing the problem, in a long and fascinating exposition. Here is his Comment of the Day on the post “Pop Quiz: The Bottom of the Slippery Slope.”
Fundamentalism v Militancy
“Which brings me an item I almost ran yesterday re the specious anti-free-speech posts some people were making and/or agreeing with. I thought Beth had pretty much covered the subject but … no. As (self-confessed) Christian writer and psychiatrist M. Scott Peck – Lt. Col. who served as the U.S. Army’s Assistant Chief Psychiatry and Neurology Consultant to the Surgeon General of the Army – explained, “(T)there are different stages of spiritual maturity. Fundamentalism – whether it be Muslim, Christian, Jewish or Hindu fundamentalism – is an immature stage of development.
‘Indeed, a Christian fundamentalist who kills others in the name of religion is much more similar to a Muslim – or Jewish, Hindu or Buddhist – fundamentalist who kills others in the name of his religion than to a Christian who peacefully fights for justice and truth, helps the poor, or serves to bring hope to the downtrodden.’
If we can’t agree to differentiating fundamentalists (extremists by definition) from (comparatively) rational folks, we will continue to have straw man arguments that lump every one together under a label that is useless for discussion.”
I’ve read some of Peck’s works. Pretty good. But I think he’s inaccurate on the characterization of “Fundamentalism”. He’s fallen for the same trap in mislabeling that the main stream media uses. Certainly spiritual immaturity involves a great deal of emotionalism, which typically manifests in anger, when a person’s beliefs are challenged. Anger, which can lead to violence, is best described as “Militancy”, not “Fundamentalism”.
If religion A says “at the bare bones you must believe”:
1) Never touch a weapon
2) Be peaceful with everyone
3) Oppose studying earthquakes
And a practitioner of religion A picked up a gun and blew away the first seismologist they found, they couldn’t rightly be called a “Fundamentalist” in their religion, because they clearly violated the fundamentals. They are more aptly described as a Militant practitioner of religion A and clearly break their own religion’s rules.
If religion B says “at the bare bones you must believe”:
1) Only tolerate people who are like you
2) Kill people who disagree with you
3) Oppose studying earthquakes
Then Practitioner B, when he picks up a gun and blows away seismologists, is not only a “Militant” practitioner, but can rightly be called a “Fundamentalist” for following his religion’s key tenets. Which would also lead to the identification that “Militancy” is also “enshrined” in his religion.
This is the major flaw in Islam v Christianity comparisons. The poo-pooers like to say “Well Christians were really violent in the name of their religion also.” Sure, those Christians who did that were definitively WRONG to do it, but at least they can’t find anywhere in the New Testament to advocated their violence…so they were not “Fundamental” AT ALL. Just Militant asses. When Muslims engage in violence, they can refer to a plethora of textual backing to support their violence… they ARE being “Fundamental” when they are militant. Peck is correct that it is spiritual immaturity, he’s just wrong labelling it Fundamentalism. It’s time to acknowledge that Islam has encoded, not just a lack of ethics in it’s belief system, but an actively counter-ethical system.
“Well Christians were really violent in the name of their religion also”: I’m not sure why this objection is even raised. Do you?
- Are we supposed to let Muslims do this because Christians did it also? (Rationalization)
- Are we supposed to condemn Christianity now also?
- Are we supposed to just assume this is a growing pain in Islam and let it ride, turning a blind eye because Europe was a very violent place at one time also?
I’ve never figured out the objection…
Probably time to address the poo-pooers concerns about “Islamophobia.”Any time a rational person identifies the inherent flaws in Islam that seem to inculcate and forgive the very disgusting behaviors engaged in, some bleeding heart demands we acknowledge “Well, not ALL Muslims are like that!” This required caveat, which the rational person already understands, seems to be the only thing the bleeding hearts care about. I strongly suspect that if no one pointed out militant Islam, then the prevailing notion amongst the group in question would be that ALL Muslims are bleary-eyed peace-loving down to earth people who only want good for all…
Thank God for the rational people.
Here’s where it sits. Envision two continuums (continua?).
The first Continuum will be “Islamism.” At point 0, you have a guy who was born to Muslim parents but after that never practiced the religion in his life. At point 100, you have the guy who follows Islam to the absolute letter of the Koran and Hadiths and is one step away from blowing himself and a handful of Jews kafiri to smithereens. Along that continuum you have anywhere from the secular Muslim who occasionally prays, to the daily prayer, to the Sufis, to the Shias, down the line to the quiet supporters of the terrorists who would never do such themselves, to the guys who verbally support the terrorist but wouldn’t do it themselves to the Wahabbists, to the Salafists, then to the Takfirists, etc. On that continuum you have every shade of active practice of the religion.
The second Continuum will be “Islamophobia.” At point 0, you have the guy who sees the news and thinks “hey that dude who cheered the 9-11 attacks and the Charlie Hebdo attacks is probably a bad guy” but then gets on about his day. At point 100, you have the guy who says “WHUT?! His name has ibn or bin in it??? KILL HIM!” Similarly along that continuum, you have every shade of individual who worries about Islam’s effect on it’s believers and the likelihood that it fosters militant behavior.
Still with me? Now, I think rational people, without having to caveat a comment about Islam or militant Muslims, understands that, on the 1st continuum, the Vast majority fall in the “don’t worry about these guys” zone. I think the bleeding-hearts believe every time someone makes a comment observing the reality of the world, they think the commenter believes EVERY SINGLE MUSLIM is at point 100 on the 1st continuum and therefore they quietly believe that every person making an anti-Islamic observation must lean towards being an Islamophobic extremist.
Here’s the concern that the poo-pooers don’t seem to realize or give appropriate gravity to: I think there are VASTLY MORE people on the “worrisome” end of the 1st continuum than there are on the “worrisome” end of the 2nd continuum. And it is also concerning that the bleeding hearts don’t seem to think that the “worrisome” end of the 1st continuum is nearly that big of a threat and are more concerned with not mislabeling the “non-worrisome” Muslims than they are with handling the troublesome ones…