Tag Archives: Jihad

Fearing Fear Itself

Wanting to give a chance for the heat of the moment to pass, I did not post on this topic last week.  However, our wonderful politicians to paraphrase another statement, never miss an opportunity to make things worse by over-reacting to the crisis du jour.  While it is unclear that the current proposed legislation on refugees actually changes the screening process, the timing of this legislation and the specific requirement that the Administration give periodic reports to Congress is another blunder on the PR side of the war on terror — sending a clear message to the Muslim world that the U.S. sees Muslims as our enemy, even though that is not the case.  Several points need to be made (and hopefully will be made by those who want to be President and our other national leaders, but I am not optimistic).

First, and foremost, fundamentalism — whether Islamic or Christian or Jewish or Hindi or Buddhist — is an idea.  An idea can’t be defeated by military force.  In today’s world, all it takes is a computer (or smart phone) to communicate messages — both to recruit new participants and to coordinate plans — and to transfer the funds needed for operations.  While controlling a piece of territory (especially one rich in natural resources) can allow a training program and help with raising funds, it is not absolutely necessary.  Thus, if our only strategy is a military one, we face the modern day equivalent of a mythical Hydra — lop off one head (Al-Qaeda) and a new head (ISIS) emerges to take its place within a year or two.

Second, all religions have the potential for a fundamentalist streak, and most religions have some text that can be interpreted to support holy war (call it a jihad, a crusade, or whatever) against non-believers.  Most also have texts that can be read to support tolerance and non-violent attempts to convert by persuasion and demonstrating the goodness and truth of the religion.  Christians attempting to convince others that Islam is different should first closely examine their own history — even at this late time, we are only a couple of decades removed from the troubles in Northern Ireland and the war in Bosnia, much less the continued mistreatment of gays and lesbians on religious grounds by Christian leaders in Africa.  We also need to recognize that all religions have different sub-denominations.  If a Muslim tried to lump in Episcopalians with Southern Baptists, both groups would quickly respond about how different Episcopalian beliefs are from Southern Baptist beliefs — although both qualify as Christian and protestant.  Yet, in the U.S., we quickly gloss over the differences between Sunni and Shia and all of the divergent schools of belief that fit within each of those two broad categories.

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