Lessons from Norway: It's Fundamentalism, Not Islam
In the moments after the news of the latest terror incident broke, this one in Norway, there was an immediate assumption that Muslims were behind the violence. Within minutes, one Facebook friend posted a link that said that a rise in rape in Norway corresponded to a rise in Muslim immigration. We in the West are quick to blame Islam for every act of senseless violence that crosses our consciousness, in a 'blame now ask questions later' frenzy. Now we know that the perpetrator was a blonde-haired, blue-eyed fundamental Christian.
It's convenient and easy to blame Islam because we all know that those people are crazy. The other day I actually heard one Republican presidential candidate, who calls himself a Constitutional expert, say that The Bill of Rights does not apply to Islam because they are a government and not a religion. He cited the very existence of Sharia Law as proof, saying that making laws makes you a government. Apparently if you call it a commandment, you're off the hook.
People ask me why I'm so hard on religion in my essays. The answer is that fundamentalism is dangerous, whether it be Christian, Muslim or any other belief system based on the writings of superstitious ancients. I am an advocate for replacing our superstition-based beliefs with sanity, facts and reason. If we ever succeed in doing that, we will have the antidote for not only terror, but most of the social problems our world faces.
The Hope and the Fallacy
During the height of the so-called Ground Zero Mosque debate, I wrote a post in which I praised the reasoned and rational words of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf when he called for moderates on all sides to carry the day. I believe that the reasonable people far outnumber the extremists on all sides and that they represent our best hope for learning how to get along in the world.
That said, there's just one problem with religious moderation: it's a lie.
“Have you read The Koran?” one Mosque detractor replied to every point I tried to make.
“Have you read The Bible?” I answered each and every time.
The problem is that the fundamentalists are right in regard to those ancient texts. Their intolerant and often violent points of view are exactly what those books espouse. As much as I appreciate the reasonable folk of all religions, as much as I believe they are our best hope, when it comes to “God's word” according to the ancient texts, they are just flat in denial. Either you're a fundamentalist or you don't truly believe that the Bible or the Koran are the word of God or Allah. Simple as that.
Then What is the Answer?
Fundamentalism, my friends, is the enemy, be it Christian or Muslim, and moderation is a big, fat lie. So what is the answer? Trust your heart. You don't need TV preachers with bad hair and dimples to tell you what is right, or even that nice young pastor down at the local Baptist Church, and you certainly don't need morally bankrupt political leaders to calibrate your moral compass. In your heart, you know that intolerance of all shades is wrong. You know that useless wars and killing are wrong.
Trust yourself and let go of your ancient superstitions. Then, and only then, will things get better.