Bridgethought of the Day: What is more terrifying - walls that are too low, or weapons that kill too much?
As usual, spending my time reading people whom I can hardly stand, such as the immutable Cal Thomas and his weird, but frighteningly popular, rants. Oh no! I read it on "Cal": "Free world is Letting Its Guard Down." A study in Britain showed teachers reluctant to "covering the 11th-Century crusades, when Christians fought Muslims for control of Jersalem, because the lessons contradict what Muslim students are taught in mosques. The sacrifice of truth in favor of propaganda for fear of violence is the first step on the road to enslavement."
Now that latter bit of wisdom is great advice for the Bush administration. Yes, it IS true! We do sacrifice truth in favor of propaganda, although for more reasons that here stated, and it definitely is the first step on the road to enslavement. All that's really promoted these days in the way of news is propaganda and selective news-revealing, something akin to the avoidance of discussions of the crusades in British schools. And the cause is the same, albeit in a different flavor - fear of Islam and Muslims.
The difference is in Cal's scenario in Britain, they fear an imagined "Muslim backlash" if their presentations are perceived as anti-Islamic, while here the Bush administration fears Islam and Muslims in general and "Islamic" terrorists in particular and hence produces propaganda that, rather than trying to avoid Muslim anger, shows the "Big Stick" and "Big Brother" factors to strongarm potential "Islamic terrorists" into submission, backing off, or fearful hesitancy and, it is hoped, ultimate weakness and/or defeat. In Britain and Europe, according to Cal, the public desires retreat from international and military involvement that they see as incendiary to the testy Islamic element abroad. But here in the US of A, the public supposedly - or at least good ol' Cal - wants or needs more international and military intervention and involvement to protect us against the Islamic and Mongol hordes that are ever on the march to our doorstep.
He hates the propaganda of retreat, but loves the propaganda of aggression and war, because he views the latter as the road to security. Oh, really? as my 10-yr-old would say...
In all propaganda camps, it seems, the real enemy is still Islam and Muslims. They are to be feared - it's just an issue of how to respond to that fear: retreat or aggression? Yeah, who's the biggest, baddest macho on the rock? What d'ya think we're gonna do? Back out when our enemies are on the attack?
Nobody asks - are they even on the attack? or are they even the enemy??? Why do we always insist on oversimplifying things? When the going gets tough, we go back to childhood: good guys vs. bad guys, and guess who always wears the good guy outfit? Right, Rove: The Big Guy! The Bully! By Machiavelli, you're right! But does wearing the good guy outfit make a guy good??? And putting a bad guy outfit on another guy - does it make him bad? Why don't people ever use their minds????
Let's just get into Cal's mind for a moment, to be fair and fruitful. Here's fodder for the flames of fear: "In Belgium, a newspaper has published a copy of the Koran in French and offered free coupons for a Flemish language translation of Islam's holy book. The paper also published a book called 'Islam Now,' which presents a history of the religion up to the modern era. I haven't seen it, but would be willing to bet it contains little, if anything, about the terrorism carried out in the name of Islam by fanatics."
Gee, Mr. Thomas, if you're willing the bet that the Qur'an, even in translation, carries little or nothing about terrorism carried out in the name of Islam, then what the hell are you worried about from other Muslims? I know, of course, that you don't really mean that the Qur'an does not promote terrorism in any shape or form, or that fanatics don't represent Islam, but that's what you said, sir. And, for once, I think you've got something there. And if the Qur'an doesn't promote terrorism or even mention it, even in passing, let alone promote it, then why should you have this all-out fear of Islam and Muslims?
What, after all, makes "terrorists"? Is it religion? NO! Is it oppression? OBVIOUSLY. Oppression is one of the most grievous crimes against humanity - hey, murder is a form of oppression, one used rather liberally by right-wing dictators, including those who call themselves, coincidentally, "Muslim". Are they right-wing dictators because of the Qur'an or because of Islam? God forbid! There's an emphatic NO again. Are terrorists from Al-Qaeda or otherwise doing what they do because of the Qur'an or Islam? Absolutely NOT. All of these reactions, rather Newtonian, I might add (for every action - oppression - there's an equal and opposite reaction - terrorism, the reactionary form of oppression), are caused by social, political, and economic dynamics. Religion is just dragged along for the ride. Yes, there's a fatwa here, and a Bible verse there, but it does not form a unified front, does not form a Mongol horde, and is not coming to a skyscraper near you.
In fact, maybe Cal would like to know, or maybe not, now that I think of it, why, oh why, hasn't Mr. Bin Laden come up with another big Spectacular terrorist Show. The answer is easy - well known - and eminently true: because some people more knowledgeable in the Qur'an and in Islam than him advised him that this was simply wrong. In other words, other Muslims advised UBL that the Qur'an actually does not promote terrorism, but rather condemns it, and therefore, he acquiesced, stopped the show, and the terror level gradually slipped back to where it is today: orange.
Basically, the fanatics, and oppressed Muslims as well, have gone back to what they do usually: kill each other.
So Cal was right after all - the Qur'an and Islam have nothing but condemnation of terrorism, and say nothing about the terrorist fanatics and their plans, because these are not religious plans. In fact, the more that is known about the Qur'an and Islam, and the more that is taught, the less terrorism, fanaticism and war there will be, and the safer the world will be for democracy, Western or Eastern or even Centrist... But the West does not want democracy or peace. Far be it from them to want such a thing. They consistently promote the diametrical opposite: supporting tyrants and their tyrrany, building up and interfering militarily with everything they can get their hands on, for which they have even an outside chance of imposing false impunity, even in the short term. Tyranny and oppression - this is the cause of terrorism, not Islam, not the Qur'an, not some religious groups talking about the return of the Caliphate, like the Return of the Jedi, NO! It's your tyranny, or tyranny you tolerated, promoted, turned a blind eye to, etc., that's coming back like that old Newtonian reaction again.
Don't blame God, blame physics.