Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Religious violence? All major religions?

This article in the Christian Science Monitor tries to balance out the recent Mulsim violence with Christian, Buddhist, Jewish violence counterexamples...

Last week conservative columnist Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe looked at this "dark side of the force" as he saw it manifested in recent events. Jacoby asked an important question: why are we so upset with reports that Newsweek printed a short piece about the desecration of the Koran at Guantanamo, but not at the reaction in Afghanistan that led to the deaths of at least 16 people?...

(Then again, both Afghanistan president Harmid Karzai and General Richard Myers, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of staff, denied the riots had been prompted by the Newsweek article, calling them instead “a political act against Afghanistan's stability.” Karzai said Monday that "we know who did this" and it wasn't connected to the Koran article.)

But then Jacoby writes that this kind of reaction to a perceived slight is one reason why Muslims are so disrespected in the West - violence, it seems to Jacoby, is second nature to Muslims and to Islam, but not to other religions.

Christians, Jews, and Buddhists don't lash out in homicidal rage when their religion is insulted. They don't call for holy war and riot in the streets. It would be unthinkable for a mainstream priest, rabbi, or lama to demand that a blasphemer be slain.

The above paragraph makes an interesting point. There's only one problem with it - it's wrong..,

The author of the above, Tom Regan, than goes on to cite examples of such violence, namely among the Irish in Ireland, and between the Tamil Tigers and the Sri Lankan government- the latter being an example of Buddhist/Hindu violence.

Neglecting the fact that these happen to be examples of political liberationn movements, not primarily religious disputes (of which the same could be said for Muslim/Christian/Jewish violence examples given) it can be said that merely calling one's self a member of a religious group should not, in and of itself, define the tenets of the religion, although naturally it colors another religions' followers' view of that religion.

In Buddhism, caveat emptor is pretty much a tenet of the religion- rely on yourself the Buddha said.

Regan goes on to cite a Beliefnet article on this subject, but seems to entirely miss the point.

The pathology of religious violence is aided and abetted and enabled by political impotence, plain and simple.

Addressing political impotence- yes, impotence- of those who have been disenfranchised, even those righties in the US- will do much more to smother the flames of resentment that lead to violence than it will to either appease them or outright oppose them.

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