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”: Continue reading
Paul Scofield as Sir Thomas More
“What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?…And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide…the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down…do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!”—- Sir Thomas More [Played by Paul Scofield, scripted by Robert Bolt (in a speech adapted from More’s writings) in the film of “A Man for All Seasons” (1966)]
My opinion of Rev. Terry Jones is a matter of record; to summarize, I think he is well beneath Charlie Sheen, Donald Trump, Tom DeLay, Goldman Sachs, Nancy Pelosi, Eliot Spitzer, AIG, Charlie Rangel , Mark Sanford, Barry Bonds, “Ronbo” and most of the other members in bad standing on the Ethics Alarms Bottom 100. Determined as he is to sully the First Amendment with his disgraceful and hate-soaked use of it, however, he is an American, and he has rights. A Dearborn, Michigan jury, prompted by the city, has taken away those rights by preventing him and another fool from protesting outside a local mosque. Continue reading
...or "The Rev. Terry Jones Story"
“If you want to be technical, I guess we broke our word. We thought twice about it.”
—-Rev. Terry Jones, agreeing with criticism that he had promised last September not to burn the Quran, but did so anyway last month when he felt that his anti-Islam campaign was not getting enough headlines.
If you want to be technical, Rev. Jones is probably the biggest asshole in the United States right now. I know, I know—civility. But there are rare situations in which only our crudest, most insulting words can fairly describe individuals and acts. Rev. Jones richly deserves the asshole label, indeed the U.S. Champion, Gold Plated, #1 Asshole label, because nothing else adequately describes his reckless, self-promoting, hateful, irresponsible, deadly, virtually treasonous conduct—all completely legal, of course.
What do you call someone who pours gasoline on a brush fire to get attention? Jerk is too mild. What do you call someone who intentionally makes a difficult problem of international perception even more difficult—intentionally? Fool is too kind. Unethical, my staple, is too abstract. There just is no civil term for someone like Jones. Continue reading
Muslim women, in ethical garb
During last week’s hearings on the alleged radicalization of Muslim-Americans, Congressman Dennis Kucinich, protesting that the hearings were an example of prosecution and bigotry, said:
“Islam is a religion based upon peace, goodwill and the ethical treatment of all people on this planet.”
Politics involves advocacy, and zealous advocacy sometimes metastasizes into exaggerations, overstatements, and lies. Determined governors are called dictators and criminals; those questioning global warming models are compared to Holocaust deniers. Believing that an attack on an enemy nation is in the best interests of America, leaders who should be saying, “We have good reason to believe that this nation has weapons of mass destruction and is inclined to use them,” say instead, “We know where the weapons are and the threat is imminent.” Other leaders who are trying to get important health care reforms passed say, “Don’t worry—if you like your current plan, you’ll be able to keep it!”, neglecting to add the caveat that that plan you like may be forced out of existence if the bill is passed.
These excesses range from deceitful to outright lying, but they are all unethical, all disrespectful of the truth and the public that has a right to it, all aimed at manipulating public opinion with falsity.
I find Kucinich’s statement especially indefensible, because the degree of his presumably misstatement of the truth was completely unnecessary if his motives were good. Continue reading
Let’s keep this post as abstract as possible, as the less publicity the renegade Gainesville book-burners get for their idiotic stunt, the better.
Why is a dim-witted “protest”by a fifty member church that we were all blissfully unaware of until recently a national, international, or even local news story? I am pretty sure I could gather a group of fifty friends in the parking lot across from my house on Arbor Day and burn an effigy of ultra-prolific junk novelist James Patterson to protest the many trees that have died to bring his books to Barnes and Noble. Would that be newsworthy—a few wackos doing something just to get attention? Does the public have a right to know about a trivial and pointless event that is only occurring so that the media will make it news?
Let us now assume that there is a powerful James Patterson cult, funded by an eccentric billionaire fan, and that it has acquired nuclear weapons. Continue reading
Now that a mad Florida Pastor, Terry Jones, has taken the twisted logic of that addled demonstration to the next step, planing a Koran-burning to show “we will no longer be controlled and dominated by their fears and threats,” I’d like to hear how those who set out to stick a finger in the eye of Islam by drawing its prophet can justify condemning Jones, when he plans to stick in his whole thumb. Continue reading