Fanatics: A Response to Ace

Earlier today, our new staff writer Ace Anderson posted an article regarding fanatical Islam. My response follows.

There are a number of fanatics, in all religions. What about the “Army of God,” the Christian group that condones the assassination of doctors who perform abortions? What about Catholic and Protestant fanatics in Northern Ireland, bombing each others’ kids because of centuries-old hatred? What about Jewish hardliners in Israel who see no problem with murdering Arabs because of some idea of divine inspiration? Or atheists like Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot, who put millions to death because they disagreed with the regime? And those are just the most visible examples. There’s also people like Ann Coulter, who advocates “invading [Arab] nations, killing their leaders, and converting them to Christianity.” A sentiment Jesus would have approved of, certainly. There’s also people like George W. Bush, speaking of a “new crusade” to the holy lands, either ignorant of or (more frightening) accepting of the genocidal fanaticism that the term “Crusade” has come to describe.

Yes, Islam has some seriously bad people claiming to act in its name, and unfortunately some of them are in positions of power–just as atheist and “Christian” dictators caused most of the bloodshed of the 20th century, so too will fanatical “Muslims” violate the teachings of their own professed religion and likely dominate the violence of the 21st. But that doesn’t make non-fanatical Muslims guilty of mass murder or the support thereof, any more than all Christians, Jews, or atheists are responsible for the crimes of Hitler or Baruch Goldstein or the Khmer Rouge.

I understand that Ace’s post doesn’t make the unfortunate argument (or at least, doesn’t do so directly) that so many of its contemporaries do; that is, Islam is somehow more prone to violent fanaticism than other religions. Nonetheless, it attempts to paint all Muslims–even those living happily in the Western world and as far from fanaticism as possible–as at least complacent with regard to the abuses by Islamic dictators, solely by virtue of their religion. It also creates unnecessary distinctions between one tyrant and another. It promotes the idea that those who choose to abuse the teachings of Islam in pursuit of power and violence are somehow any different from those who choose the teachings of Jesus Christ or Karl Marx as their platform. A tyrant is a tyrant is a tyrant, no matter what their clothing, and they generally have supporters keeping dissenters in line regardless of their justification for doing so. No person should have to apologize for the actions of another, simply because of a few shared characteristics or basic beliefs. Sure, hold bin Laden and the Taliban and Hamas, as well as those who support and aid them, responsible for their actions. But don’t force anyone who shares their religion to choose between making constant public denunciations of every single one of their actions, or being labeled a supporter.

3 Thoughts on “Fanatics: A Response to Ace”

  1. Thank you for the thoughtful response Nick. I felt as though the article I posted was not so much a jab at modern Muslims, but a call to action. It is the fault of the fanatics all the horrors that have happened with Islamic radicalism, as you’ve stated, but it is everybody’s fault that does not speak up. The articled tried to unite all the tyrants to show what has happened when people just stood and watched. Though, I am not saying we should unite and bomb the hell out of another country in the Middle East. I’ll leave you with the following quote which I feel further explains the point I was trying to make:

    “First, they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
    Then, they came for the communists, and I did not speak out because I was not a communist.
    Then, they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.
    Then, they came for me, and there was no one left to speak out for me.” – Martin Niemoller

  2. That exact quote is on my Facebook! Anyway, I don’t see what you two are on about. Seems like you’re saying the same thing?

  3. Ace: I realize that you weren’t going after Islam as a whole; my problem is simply that by creating divisions between this dictator and that one, or by focusing on radical Islamic dictatorships instead of just dictatorships, it makes it easy to a.) ignore any dictator who’s not a fanatic Muslim and b.) paint all Muslims as somehow complacent, even if they’re far enough removed from the region or the dictators to be without fault. It’s not so much your article I’m responding to I suppose, as much as it is the overall sentiment that I feel that article panders to. Perhaps it’s just me though; I’ve read a fair number of those “Islam is actually ALL ABOUT MURDER” emails so I tend to be a bit quick to react to things like that, and perhaps that’s my fault.

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