A middle-aged man dreaming of the day when he can stop begging for scraps and write for a living.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

What to do about Islamic extremism?

je suis Charlie

If you haven't seen the news today, Islamic terrorists shot and killed 12 people at the satirical magazine company of Charlie Hebdo. Their reason why? Because the magazine dared to print a cartoon caricature of the prophet Mohammad. It's not the first time Muslim terrorists have done this sort of thing, and it won't be the last. These people don't just demand unearned respect for their beliefs, they demand submission to them. The idea of civil rights and personal freedom doesn't seem to be part of their vocabulary.

This is a problem. It sets up a conflict between the Islamic world and everyone else in which no compromise is possible, it's either us or them. So far the Western world has been relatively measured in its response, which seems ridiculous considering the widespread destruction we've inflicted on Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and more but that's us restraining ourselves. If we truly commit to all-out war with people who are a dedicated threat to us we can do much, much worse.

There are factions in the Western world who are screaming for us to do just that. The more Muslim extremists provoke us, the more likely it becomes that people will listen to those factions. More and more people are looking at the Muslim world as problems rather than partners. I sincerely hope to avoid this, but as I discussed previously there are Christian factions looking to use this as an opportunity to come to power.

What do we do? Bringing these extremists to heel is going to be costly and troublesome on our own, and the more trouble it becomes the less likely people are going to treat it as a cost-effective solution. The Muslim world needs to be convinced to police their own, and it doesn't seem likely that this is going to happen. We're not hearing from the moderates, only the fundamentalists. Only it turns out that isn't true either, Muslim moderates are standing up in protest of their own extremists and we're not being told about it. Did I mention the Christian factions? Christians can be and are just as extreme but we're not hearing about them, either. We're getting a very skewed view of extremism in the world and it's not helping our decision-making.

We really need to put an end to this nonsense. We have competing religions vying for dominance, both of whom are willing to be ruthless in their use of violence to achieve their ends. We have moderates who are interested in peaceful coexistence and power elites who clearly have an agenda in which the winner takes all. It's time for us to take power back for ourselves and reach out to other moderates interested in peace. It's time to stop glorifying the extremists on both sides and acknowledge the destruction they're causing. It's becoming another Christianity versus Islam battle because we're allowing ourselves to be manipulated into it, but we have the power to stop this. We just have to stop buying into the idea that one side or the other is right. Neither of them are.

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