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Friday, May 19, 2006


Not to be a "gloomy gus", because I know everyone is having a great summer vacation, especially those of us trapped in the vicious mill known as petitioning, but did anyone see this story? Apparently, the Iranian government is close to deciding to mandate Islamic clothing for everyone in their country. At first glance, this is just the norm in Middle-Eastern Islamic Fascism. Except this is actually a bit worse, because the government would also mandate that non-Muslims wear identifying marks on their clothing. Jews would wear a yellow stripe, Christians a red, and Zoroastrians a blue. The thought that a country such as this possesses nuclear weapons chills me to the bone. If Hitler's heavy water experiments would have worked, millions more could have died, and we all could be goose-stepping right now. In other news, the prisoners at Guantanamo are rioting again. Perhaps a page of their sacred book was flushed down the toilet again (or for the first time). It's just so sad the religious persecution people face in the United States. Actually, I can't even persist in making such an argument with a straight face. I know the U.S. has problems, but to be frank, I don't think religious intolerance is high on the list. When the biggest show of religious intolerance is an easter bunny outside someone's office, I think we're fine. However, it is also at times like these that I kind of wish we had not gone into Iraq. Perhaps we should have been saving our bullets for this new threat. All I know is that the whole Middle-Eastern region is descending deeper and deeper into turmoil. A lawyer shot a justice of Turkey's highest court the other day. And, I don't see a solution unless hearts are changed. Despite what some people think, aid and diplomacy won't do it. Frankly, neither will bullets (though those are often better ways to minimize risk to ourselves in the short term). The only way to stability is through one of two ways. Either Islam finally gets a moderate voice, wakes up, realizes it ain't the twelfth century, and joins us all in the cynical post-modern world. Or, Islam declines sharply in popularity, and is replaced by another religion. Because any other religion would be preferable to Islam right now, in my opinion, and it ain't even close. Of course, I'd prefer it to be Christianity, but even Buddhism, or Hinduism, or anything else would be better than what they have now.


A couple of things--first, the problem with what's happening at Guantanamo isn't "religious persecution," it's indefinite detainment without process of people without clear terrorist ties (read Obsidian Wings from a few weeks ago about how prisoners at Guantanamo were rounded up if you don't believe this) denied access to both civilian justice and prisoner of war review. Regardless of what other countries do, I still happen to think that's wrong and should not happen in this country.

The second thing is kind of pedantic, but in the 12th century Islam was a beacon of civilization, leading the world in scientific development and keeping the fires of intellectual inquiry burning while they went dark in the Christian world. Denying or disparaging that history isn't going to help. The problem isn't that Islam thinks it's the 12th century, but that it came to the 21st century too fast. What do you think would have happened if the countries engaged in the 30 Years War had access to nuclear weapons, like Iran soon might? I don't think it would have been pretty. It's not a problem with Islam, but a problem with oil being found where Islam is practiced at a time when the rest of the world desperately needs it. Christianity wouldn't do any better in a similar situation, it has no special trait to resist dictatorship or war. Christian countries have already shown a penchant for both--for a recent example, Fascism in Spain and Italy was very much tied to Christian faith.

The problem isn't with religion. It's with the people who "practice" it.
First, of course I realize that most of the criticism of Guantanamo is focused on religious persecution. I was just noting that when people thought part of a Koran had been flushed (which I think would have been wrong), they reacted disproportionatly.

Second, I'm not going to diminish the good times Islam has had (though in the twelfth century, though they were scientifically and culturally advanced, they were still quite as vicious, if not more so). I'm not disparaging their history. I'm saying they've never left it. It was a common critique of China for a while. They had a great cultural and scientific history, and then they closed the borders for a long time and sat on it, allowing others to race by them. It's the reason I think the U.S. shouldn't become complacent, and why some of the "keep America as it was by cutting off immigration" people are so misled. And again, I'm not saying that Christianity hasn't been used for fascist purposes before. What I'm saying is that historically, when Christianity has been corrupted (and it has been), it has been cleansed internally, by the Reformation, for example. The nations that fought Fascism in Italy in WWII were historically Christian nations. However, that same internal struggle has not manifested itself in Islam. Frankly, it's the reason I'm happy Christianity isn't "united". The more monolithic a religion gets, the less likely it is to be able to fight off corruption from within. But that's just my opinion. And I agree that the problem isn't always with religion, but the people who practice it. You can't judge ideas by those who profess to believe in them. But that does not mean that all religions or ideas are created equal. And I think Islam as it stands right now is hurting the world more than any other idealogy (though to be fair, it has merged with other destructive idealogies to form a kind of religious cocktail of death.) Again, Islam needs a reformation. But frankly, seeing the dearth of Muslims calling for it makes me doubt that such a thing is possible.
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