Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Growing Scourges - Rightwing Nationalism? Islam? How about Extremism...

Found at the small dead animals post, Oslo: The Christian Response, (but also quoted approvingly here, too):

From today's Toronto "Red" Star editorial:
'The best catharsis Norway can have is to expose a mass murderer for what he is, to publicly refute his twisted ideology and to bring him to justice. The light and air of a public courtroom are the best disinfectants. This case matters to other European countries as well. Rightwing nationalism is a growing scourge that can inspire a lunatic fringe.'
Can you imagine them writing the following?
'The best catharsis America can have is to expose mass murderer Nidal Hasan for what he is, to publicly refute his twisted ideology and to bring him to justice. The light and air of a public courtroom are the best disinfectants. This case matters to European countries as well. Islam is a growing scourge that can inspire a lunatic fringe.'
Nope. Me neither."
In both cases, the ideology of the killers needs to be examined and discussed. But Breivik's murderous acts were not the product of nationalism (or even "rightwing nationalism") any more than Hasan's murderous acts were the result of Islam.

Both were the result of extremism, each of their own variety. Yes, rightwing nationalism / Islam were factors in the stories, but only in the sense that Anders Breivik and Nadal Hasan claimed to be acting in furtherance of those ideologies, but in both cases they had created &/or were influenced by others who had bastardized what these ideologies are actually about and how they are put into practice by their more mainstream adherents.

Now obviously, I'm not all that familiar with Islam, but I do know that the Muslim faith is one of the great religions throughout the world, practiced by millions of people, and that it is a fraction of Muslims who are extremists in word or deed.

I know even less about rightwing nationalism, but I can imagine and empathize with those who see their country and it's traditional identity slipping away. (I find it far easier to imagine and empathize where "old Europe" (or old anywhere) is concerned; the USA started out a nation of immigrants, and still is.) While I'm staunchly opposed to bigotry--also a function of being an American and of our being a nation of immigrants, I think--I don't have much of an issue with countries maintaining their heritage by limiting immigration and demanding a degree of adherence to the customs and laws of the land. The key is, the laws must apply to all fairly. If a country chooses to limit immigration, they should limit immigration from all countries, not just certain ones. If a country chooses to limit (or allow) religious expression or adornments in schools, the laws governing such things should apply whether one is a Muslim, a Christian, a Jew, or any other religion.

Obviously, it's far easier to say than to do, and I'm sure accommodating the needs of one faith will sometimes require more than accommodating the needs of another. I can only say that there is value in living and letting live, sometimes. You're not losing anything if another faith gets an accommodation you do not need or want, and in my opinion it's a little petty to bitch, if that is the case. While the analogy is by no means perfect, there is some value in treating religious accommodation the same way many schools, etc treat accommodations for disabilities. The child with dyslexia isn't getting something extra that your non-learning disabled child isn't getting; both children are getting the same instruction, based on their needs. By the same token, some children have needs that cannot be met in a normal school setting, and it is neither discriminatory or a privilege to have them attend elsewhere, whether that need is specialized instruction due to a physical or mental deficit, or the ability to worship several times during a school day, as required by one's faith.

Bigotry is a problem (and yes, I think that some of the folks being criticized a a result of the Norwegian killer quoted them have said and done bigoted things. That doesn't make them responsible for what the guy did, but it isn't out of the question to talk about what they're saying or to criticize it, either. The fact is, Breivik's quotes and claims shined a light on these anti-muslim/counter-jihadist writers, and there is nothing wrong with talking about their words and ideas.)

The real problem though, is extremism, whether one is an islamist terrorist, a leftwing ecoterrorist, or a rightwing nationalist terrorist. People who commit acts of violence or large-scale vandalism in furtherance of a political outcome are dangerous, and need to be opposed and stopped. (Small-scale vandalism ain't so hot either, but there's a vast difference between spray painting a sign or breaking a window, and blowing up a building or a bulldozer.) There will always be bigots and separatists and people who want to force you to think, act, and believe as they do. Ugly words and ideas can inspire ugly acts, but they are not the cause of those ugly acts. That doesn't mean one cannot criticize the ugly words and ideas--indeed, I believe one has an obligation to do so--but it's foolish to attribute one person's ugly thinking for another's ugly deeds.

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