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"What the fundamentalists are doing is a total negation of their own faith - encouraging and lionizing suicide bombers and killing women and children, hardly in keeping with the teachings of Prophet Mohammed." Alexander Haig
I'm not a big fan of General Haig, but he sure got that one right.
There's a fundamental difference between religious fundamentalists and the rest of us. Christian, Jew, Muslim or Buddhist, anyone who embraces only the most radical tenets of a religion loses touch with reality.
And those who twist religious doctrine to suit their own bigotry and prejudice definitely lose touch with the true meaning of their faith.
Radical fundamentalists who so wrap themselves in religious zeal they allow it to define them, jettison all hope of perspective. They become unable to recognize the value--or even the existence--of a different religion. Or belief system. Or culture.
It's hardly surprising that Muslims, arguably a depressed, oppressed people cling desperately to any interpretation of their religion that offers them a sense of power ... and a feeling of superiority over their oppressors.
Sociologists tell us that poverty and ignorance spawn an atmosphere of despair and fear. And create a need to find something, anything to bring meaning and hope to desolate lives. If a cause is found, repressed anger is released in visible, visceral waves of relief ... and even pleasure.
It's troubling to see how many Muslims are diving into violent demonstrations over cartoons about Mohammed, not just with anger, but with glee. They can't seem to see the forest for the trees, mainly because they are so helpless and isolated from the real world.
Mohammed, who preached peace and brotherhood, would surely not condone the havoc his followers are wreaking in his name.
Let's be clear. I'm not crazy about those cartoons. But I don't think violent attacks on a government, race or religion is a positive way to make a point. And it's even more unacceptable to censor any idea or point of view simply on the grounds that it's content is insulting to any one group.
Western culture and democracy are a powerful force in the world. And not just because of McDonalds and Nike. Democracy and its inherent freedoms are flawed to be sure, but history and experience has shown them to be the best form of government -- and to provide the most meaningful source of human growth and achievement.
Many Jews deplored Mel Gibson's depiction of the Jewish people in The Passion of the Christ, but no one attacked the Australian embassy in response. Or burned down the movie studio. It would be unthinkable in a free society.
Just as it is unthinkable in much of Muslim society to recognize and embrace the benefits of genuine freedom. That kind of freedom carries responsibility. To think. To interpret. To understand. To behave in a manner that brings honor to one's religion and culture, not betrayal of it.
The Muslim religion is one of the oldest in the world. Too bad so many of its modern day adherents seemed to have learned so little from its teachings.