Monday, October 09, 2006

Christian and Islamic Fundamentalists

A little over four years ago, the New Yorker ran a story on how it was that Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's intellectual mentor and former head of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, came to hate the United States so much. His mentor, another Egyptian, whose name is Sayyid Qutb, had studied in the USA and though initially loving it here ultimately formed the view that we were spiritually deficient as a people. He saw lots of churches but didn't see religion having much of any impact on American life. He found particularly problematic seeing boys and girls dancing together in a church in Colorado. His conclusion was that American and Western European values were a threat to Islamic values. Of course, his and al-Zawahiri after him were not garden variety Muslim values. They were and al-Zawahiri still is a radical fundamentalist. You have to be to think killing women and children is a good thing.

Interestingly, there was a story on the front page of the Columbus Dispatch this morning saying the same thing about American values but this time it was a leader of a Ohio Christian Fundamentalist movement, one Marilyn Reinking. She sees her Christian values as being "under attack," as the Dispatch put it. Her concerns are with
Abortion. Same-sex marriage. Pornography. The Ten Commandments removed from public places. Prayer banned in public schools.
I wonder how Ms. Reinking would like it to hear that she feels about America's values pretty much what Ayman al-Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden do.

Al-Zawahiri and bin Laden would have a bit different list. I suspect they would not care about the Ten Commandments per se but would surely endorse the view that religious writings should be on display in public places. I don't know how Muslims feel about abortion but I wouldn't be surprised if they opposed it. Muslim fundamentalists have a lousy track record when it comes to recognizing women's rights including a woman's right over her own body. They would be one with Ms. Reinking in regard to same-sex marriage, I would imagine, and would share her view that pornography is a bad thing. Of course, most people oppose pornography but a Right Wing Christian's idea of pornography would be different from that of a typical liberal or even a moderate. In the same issue of the Dispatch, there is a story about a Frisco, Texas teacher being relieved of duty, i. e., fired, for taking her grade school class to a museum where it seems they may have seen a nude statue or a painting of a nude. I suspect that fundamentalist Muslims wouldn't much like seeing nude statures in public places. I am sorry but I feel like my values are under attack by both the Christian Right, as well by Fundamentalist Muslims.

Finally, we have the separation of the church and state. Muslim Fundamentalists totally oppose such a separation. Just how strongly the Christian Right opposes the separation of church and state is not clear but Ms. Reinking thinks that there should be prayer in school and that is a good start to closing the gap.

There are two battles in the "war" on terroristic Islamic fundamentalists. One is a fight against their criminal acts. Another is an intellectual fight. It was, in fact, the latter that has led to the former, at least historically. And what we have is Ms. Reinking basically agreeing with terroristic Islamic fundamentalists on some of the most basic elements of this intellectual battle, the most important of which is the separation of church and state. It is this that makes our democracy such as it is what it is. It protects us from people like Ms Reinking. I don't mean to tar Ms. Reinking with my anti-terrorist brush. She has shown no inclination toward violence though some fundamentalist Christians have. However, I see her as even more dangerous to American democratic values than are Fundamentalist Muslims since they aren't going to influence us at all.

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Blogger Mr K said...

While I certainly disagree with Reinking's views, I think this post is unfair. Her ideas and notions are wrong, but they are not wrong just because Osama Bin Laden might think the same thing. The fact that you might share the same view as a person as evil as Bin Laden might cause you to reconsider that view, but it does not make it inherently wrong. This is pretty much exactly the same thing as comparing someone to Hitler.

I am an atheist, and even if I was not Reinking's views would still repel me, I hope. But not just because Osama Bin Laden believes in them....

1:37 PM

Blogger Full Metal Attorney said...

Mr. K beat me to the punch. I was going to say essentially all the same things, using different examples.

I would like to say, though, that I believe in the value of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the US Constitution. But the words "separation of church and state" are not in there. Often it does mean that, but not always. The "clearest command of the Establishment Clause," it has been said by some SCOTUS Justice many years ago, is that the government can't show preference for one denomination over another.

To put my views in perspective, I think that an official prayer in school would violate that clause, but normally there is nothing wrong with posting the Ten Comandments anywhere.

2:29 PM

Blogger The Language Guy said...

I tried to insulate my position from the kind of criticism you gave Mr. K since I knew I was creating a guilt by association argument, which would, of course, be irrational and not very nice as well. I tried to suggest that that was not my intent with the "tar with the same brush" comment. The fact is that both groups of fundamentalists are dangerous to my values and for essentially the same reason -- the intent to force others to live by one's values. I am much more worried by fundamentalist Christians than fundamentalist Muslims. The latter may blow up a few things but the former have succeeded in many cases in imposing their values on the society as a whole. It would be interesting to list all of the instances.

5:03 PM

Blogger Full Metal Attorney said...

"It would be interesting to list all of the instances."

Like, for example, setting up this particular democratic system we call the United States of America.

10:02 PM

Blogger Full Metal Attorney said...

Jay, your comment is well-taken. But it was started by Christians and a few deists.

11:02 AM

Blogger IbaDaiRon said...

The Constitution also doesn't say "as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be". If we cannot (re)interpret the document to meet the needs of changing times, of what real lasting value is it?

A separation of Church and States makes more sense now in this gathering gloom than it did in those in some ways more enlightened times, whether that was the original intent or not.

8:30 AM

Blogger Full Metal Attorney said...

I think I have a fundamental disagreement with you on constitutional interpretation. They intended to create a set of rules that can't be changed without a super-consensus of the people. If it was a regular statute, you wouldn't change the way it's interpreted after 200 years, so why do it with the Constitution? It has lasting value because it provides firm ground from which to start, and it's painted with broad strokes so as not to prevent evolution of the law within acceptable bounds (but not evolution of itself, without, as I said, a large majority).

11:39 AM

Blogger Unknown said...

"... language is used and abused ..." in THIS site. For example: See if you can work out what's "linguistic"ally wrong with the next sentence. "This site has attracted both spam and a few trolls so I shall exercise my comment deleting power to exclude any post that is disrespectful to both commenters or me." {-:

7:45 AM


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