Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Civilized and the Damned

Since the terror attacks in Paris a week ago, the Republican presidential candidates have been in overdrive providing propaganda materials to the extremists of ISIS who seek to demonstrate that the West is at war against Islam as a whole rather than the blood thirsty savages of ISIS.  Ted Cruz, Donald Trump (who proposed making Muslims in America wear ID badges akin to Jews in Nazi Germany), Chris Christie and Marco Rubio have provided a cavalcade of video clips and sound bites that must be viewed as gifts by the ISIS hate merchants.  Perhaps most ironic - or, perhaps sick is a better description - is that these Republicans are making their foul statements as they pander to the element base of the GOP that like ISIS cites an supposed holy book to justify hate and misogyny.  Indeed, the Christofascists hate the same things as ISIS: gays, women's equality, science and knowledge, independent thought, and modernity itself.  A piece in the New York Times looks at how fundamentalist religion is the enemy of human rights and  the values of The Enlightenment that built the positive aspects of western civilization:

Earlier this year, before most of us started paying close attention, the death cult of the Islamic State released a video of two men being thrown from the rooftop of a building. They were executed before an approving mob for the crime of being gay — part of a systematic campaign to hunt down and exterminate suspected homosexuals.

At about the same time, a woman accused of committing adultery was stoned to death, an occurrence that rarely draws a second look inside the psychopathic bubble of the Islamic State. For that is a place of brutal, ritualistic rape of children, a place that released a manual explaining that it is permissible, under religious law, to “have intercourse with a female slave who hasn’t reached puberty.” Allah would approve, it claimed.

After this confederacy of killers took credit for the slaughter of innocents in Paris, its reasons were in keeping with the anti-humanist hatred at the core of its beliefs.

The massacre proved Voltaire’s observation — “those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”

So when somebody says we’re in the midst of a clash of civilizations — as Senator Marco Rubio did in the days of hysteria following the Paris attack — it’s an insult to the civilized world. Framing it that way gives the barbarians of the Islamic State a narrative for the toxicants they spread in the guise of religion. The Islamic State is not, by any stretch, a civilization.

Civilization is boulevards of people sipping wine in cafes, or listening to secular music — both crimes in Islamic State-controlled territory. “They were trying to kill our very culture,” a young woman in Paris told my colleague Liz Alderman in The Times. “They will not succeed.”

Civilization is defiance, embodied in the words of President Fran├žois Hollande, directed at people who hate all that France stands for. “The terrorists want to erase everything: culture, youth, life, and also history and memory,” he said. “We will not yield to terrorism by suspending our way of life.”
But that’s what some politicians in the United States are pushing for — discarding the honorable in a tremor of fear.

Civilization does not close its door to an orphaned toddler looking to start a new life in the United States, as Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey has proposed. Civilization does not apply a religious test to victims of religious fanaticism, as Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, wants to do. Only those who pray to Jesus, in his plan, would be allowed to resettle the United States. . . . saying non-Christians are unworthy of being given shelter in our country only feeds an Islamic State recruitment pitch.

A bigger fear than a homeless victim of a savage war is a homegrown crazy with an assault rifle. If only the two-year vetting process now applied to those seeking refuge were used to screen unstable Americans purchasing guns at the mall.

A great crisis can act as a valuable filter, a winnowing that separates true leaders from all the rest, the courageous from the cowards. Hollande, who has been impressive beyond expectations, has also called out the clash-of-worlds fear-mongers.

“We are not committed to a war of civilizations, because these assassins don’t represent any civilization,” he said. “We are at war against terrorism, jihadism, which threatens the whole world.”

The world’s worst terrorists are Muslim in name, and Muslim in warped practice, with Muslims as most of their victims. That truth should not be denied. They cite a holy book to do horrible things. They are damned today by all but a handful of nations. And they are doomed, as all hate ideologies eventually are, because civilization is more sustainable than a cult that worships suicide.

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