I started off as a middle-of-the-road Republican, and switched to the Democratic party in the Gingrich era because I couldn’t stand the embarrassment any longer. Since then I’ve swung even farther left, as my common sense has slowly beaten the redneck into submission. I’d now call myself liberal-progressive, if I thought I needed a label.
Attempting compassion and lovingkindness as a way of life does that to people, even hard-headed old ex-cops. Nonetheless, I’ve reached the conclusion that it’s time to get over this p.c. crap about ascribing the best possible attributes to the adherents of essentially violent religious beliefs. It has never been true of Christians, of Jews, of Hindus — and certainly not of Islam.
Even Buddhists have gotten caught up in it from time to time, the support of late nineteenth and early twentieth century Japanese nationalism by a number of well-known Zen masters being a glaring example. It’s what happens when someone transplants political objectives into a belief system, regardless of the underlying philosophy. (Wars, we must remember, are always about economics, regardless of what the rank-and-file believe.)
We have to look at the facts. Every chronic battlefield in the world today involves hard-line Islamists. That includes Indonesia, Papua-New Guinea, the Philippines, West Asia, Southeastern Europe, portions of the sub-continent, the Middle East and most of Africa, with their influence extending to places like Madrid, London and the World Trade Center. The areas thus affected include well over half the world’s population. Part of this is because fundamentalist religions of all kinds spread fastest in povery-ridden areas, which are also most likely to suffer economic strife and chronic warfare, but a lot of it is because the Imams and other leaders are perverting their jobs and lending their influence to power-seekers — those who don’t themselves fall into that category. It is unfortunate that religion can be so twisted but — religion being, in the end, about power — not surprising. However, when the aberration involves billions of people, and wholesale slaughter in the name of some god, it is incredibly tragic.
Religion should be a comfort, not an excuse for rape, mayhem and murder in God’s name, even though historically it has ever been thus. It is time for religious leaders of all faiths — the ones who aren’t hypocrites — to stand up and say what needs to be said: those who use religion to further the purposes of war are to be universally condemned. That’s a fact. The rest is power-madness wrapped in superstition.