Thursday, May 31, 2007

More on Muslin and Christian "extremism"

Yep, not letting this topic go easily. Here's an excerpt from a piece on AlterNet (http://www.alternet.org/rights/52666/) by Margaret Kimberly reflecting on the "selective outrage" certain members of the media had about a Pew poll of Muslims in America (still looking at you, Glenn Beck). The basic point, as I opined previously along with many others, is that certain unscrupulous and intellectually lazy people find it very easy to demonize Muslims, while turning a blind eye to the extremists that exist in Christianity.

And that's really the point. The problem is not a faith as a whole, the problem is those that will hijack that faith to further their own evil. And that happens with ALL faiths, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, or Christianity.

Pardon me for breaking format by quoting something in this part of the 'blog, but I was just sent a copy of an article from The Onion on September 26, 2001 (http://www.theonion.com/content/node/28151), which I think is very relevant to this point. And, as many times happens, the comedian is able to speak the truth much plainer than the philosopher:

NEW YORK—Responding to recent events on Earth, God, the omniscient creator-deity worshipped by billions of followers of various faiths for more than 6,000 years, angrily clarified His longtime stance against humans killing each other Monday.

"Look, I don't know, maybe I haven't made myself completely clear, so for the record, here it is again," said the Lord, His divine face betraying visible emotion during a press conference near the site of the fallen Twin Towers. "Somehow, people keep coming up with the idea that I want them to kill their neighbor. Well, I don't. And to be honest, I'm really getting sick and tired of it. Get it straight. Not only do I not want anybody to kill anyone, but I specifically commanded you not to, in really simple terms that anybody ought to be able to understand."

Worshipped by Christians, Jews, and Muslims alike, God said His name has been invoked countless times over the centuries as a reason to kill in what He called "an unending cycle of violence."

"I don't care how holy somebody claims to be," God said. "If a person tells you it's My will that they kill someone, they're wrong. Got it? I don't care what religion you are, or who you think your enemy is, here it is one more time: No killing, in My name or anyone else's, ever again."

...

God praised the overwhelming majority of His Muslim followers as "wonderful, pious people," calling the perpetrators of the Sept. 11 attacks rare exceptions.

"This whole medieval concept of the jihad, or holy war, had all but vanished from the Muslim world in, like, the 10th century, and with good reason," God said. "There's no such thing as a holy war, only unholy ones. The vast majority of Muslims in this world reject the murderous actions of these radical extremists, just like the vast majority of Christians in America are pissed off over those two bigots on The 700 Club."

Continued God, "Read the book: 'Allah is kind, Allah is beautiful, Allah is merciful.' It goes on and on that way, page after page. But, no, some assholes have to come along and revive this stupid holy-war crap just to further their own hateful agenda. So now, everybody thinks Muslims are all murderous barbarians. Thanks, Taliban: 1,000 years of pan-Islamic cultural progress down the drain."

God stressed that His remarks were not directed exclusively at Islamic extremists, but rather at anyone whose ideological zealotry overrides his or her ability to comprehend the core message of all world religions.

"I don't care what faith you are, everybody's been making this same mistake since the dawn of time," God said. "The Muslims massacre the Hindus, the Hindus massacre the Muslims. The Buddhists, everybody massacres the Buddhists. The Jews, don't even get me started on the hardline, right-wing, Meir Kahane-loving Israeli nationalists, man. And the Christians? You people believe in a Messiah who says, 'Turn the other cheek,' but you've been killing everybody you can get your hands on since the Crusades."

Growing increasingly wrathful, God continued: "Can't you people see? What are you, morons? There are a ton of different religious traditions out there, and different cultures worship Me in different ways. But the basic message is always the same: Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Shintoism... every religious belief system under the sun, they all say you're supposed to love your neighbors, folks! It's not that hard a concept to grasp."

"Why would you think I'd want anything else? Humans don't need religion or God as an excuse to kill each other—you've been doing that without any help from Me since you were freaking apes!" God said. "The whole point of believing in God is to have a higher standard of behavior. How obvious can you get?"

"I'm talking to all of you, here!" continued God, His voice rising to a shout. "Do you hear Me? I don't want you to kill anybody. I'm against it, across the board. How many times do I have to say it? Don't kill each other anymore—ever! I'm fucking serious!"

Upon completing His outburst, God fell silent, standing quietly at the podium for several moments. Then, witnesses reported, God's shoulders began to shake, and He wept.

------

Recently members of that same group had a collective hissy fit about Muslims. A Pew poll indicated that a small number of American Muslims, a minority of only 8 percent, considered suicide bombing acceptable under certain circumstances. The vast majority, 78 percent, said suicide bombing against civilian targets was never acceptable.

The selective outrage was immediate, but few commentators pointed out what Christians tell pollsters about their urge to maim and kill. Most Christians, 65 percent of Protestants and 72 percent of Catholics, believe that torture is justifiable under certain circumstances. Nearly half of Americans, 46 percent, believe that it may be acceptable to deliberately target civilian populations in war time. An average of 75 percent of Muslims in Egypt, Pakistan, Indonesia and Morocco believe that such attacks are never acceptable.

Just as it is unfair to smear all Muslims with the legacy of bin Laden, it would be unfair to smear all Christians as disciples of Jerry Falwell. Muslims are constantly asked to denounce their members who are terrorists. Why is there no similar demand of Christians? Will the good Christians, the peaceful ones, ever speak out against their co-religionists who carry bombs in their cars or drop them on civilians in Iraq?

1 comment:

jeff said...

I agree. One major function of religion (I believe) is to deal with the anxiety of death and the fear that life is lived for naught. This anxiety creates a feeling of powerlessness that we try to resolve by imposing power onto others. This causes people to do atrocious acts, we feel guilt, so to help us deal we put the responsibility onto God. You see that time and time again, people are uncomfortable about something so they condemn it in the name of God. The extreme is in the action. The religious right in this country is much more subtle but one could argue just as damaging. How many lives are lost to botched abortions, suicides and addictions?