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Fight religious extremism in all its forms. Let it be known that, as a civilized people, we will not tolerate the barbaric intrusions of emotionally and intellectually stunted children who can be whipped into a murderous frenzy by some priest or imam prattling on about God. Their "culture", such as it is, is simply incompatible with ours, and ours must win.

This is why the isolationists and non-interventionists are so gravely mistaken, and why the homicidal infants have a leg up in this fight: the latter understand that this is a war of cultures, and that only one will survive. They've already infiltrated Europe and demanded their right to Sharia law, their right to blow up embassies because of cartoons or, as in this case, movies, their right to bomb subways.

If we are to preserve the Enlightenment values that have raised humanity out of the dark ages and so improved our lot in life, if we are to continue to progress as a species, then we must be willing to fight for what we believe. We will not win this battle with diplomacy; our enemy has no desire for it. We must stamp out the medieval death cults that threaten us, and this will require force.

We didn't start this fight, and let no liberal or pacifist tell you that the suicide bombings and attacks on liberty are the result of our foreign policy; they are not. They are the result of the inherent incompatibility of freedom and fundamentalism. Freedom isn't free, and if we aren't willing to fight to preserve our liberty, then we will deservedly lose it.




> ours must win

Yes that's exactly what religious extremists, you are so violently vocal against, say about western culture. This saddens me, I so wish I had the power to downvote.

>We will not win this battle with diplomacy; our enemy has no desire for it. We must stamp out the medieval death cults that threaten us, and this will require force

So you are using the death of Vile Rat, a person who believes in diplomacy more than strong-arming, to promote your own (and forgive me for being judgemental) twisted ideology. Don't you think that sounds a little too similar to religious nutbags who often twist religious saying to promote genocides, suicide bombings and wars.

I just hope that you were being sarcastic about how extremists act, I will give you an upvote for that.

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>Yes that's exactly what religious extremists, you are so violently vocal against, say about western culture.

Yes, they do. They believe that their fundamentalist beliefs must triumph over liberal democracy, and they're willing to blow people up in order to see that happen. We have no choice but to respond to this.

>This saddens me

Me, too. That doesn't change anything, though.

>So you are using the death of Vile Rat, a person who believes in diplomacy more than strong-arming, to promote your own (and forgive me for being judgemental) twisted ideology.

I'm using yet another instance of religious extremists committing murder because they didn't like what someone said to highlight the fact that we cannot continue to act as though our cultures are compatible.

>Don't you think that sounds a little too similar to religious nutbags who often twist religious saying to promote genocides, suicide bombings and wars.

Not at all. I abhor the first two, and simply recognize that when war comes to you, you had best be willing to fight or surrender.

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> Me, too.

No sir, your stand saddens me.

> you had best be willing to fight or surrender.

Or tackle things like adults. I come from India, I know wars do not solve problems. War based on culture and religion, never still. Your reaction will only bring more devastation to those who are not involved in these actions. Most of us non-westerners do not care what you say about our God(s) unless and until you are saying it just so as to be disrespectful. And even then, a unbelievably vast majority of us will probably only choose to withdraw our economic/political/social support that we would have otherwise entrusted you with. Killing is NOT our thing. And please don't go point out some article in a magazine showing how backward we are in terms of social equality; because we know we do and we don't want your intervention on it. Our governments are acting on it and the newer generations are all for equality. We are also less religious, just so that you know. So the war that you are throwing on the rest of us, we don't want to be part of it. We don't deserve to be a part of it.

And I don't get it, how will a war solve anything. Is there going to a genocide where you kill all those who don't agree to you western culture and ideologies or just our leaders - cultural and political? May be you will start with embassies that represent our sovereign on your soil for you probably see them while going on work and they remind you of how incompatible we are to your culture.

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I'm sorry, but you seem to misunderstand my position. No doubt this is due to my failure to communicate it effectively.

I am not saying we are at war with Muslims, or Arabs, or Persians, etc. I am not saying we are at war with Islam. I'm saying we are at war with religious fundamentalism. It is fundamentalism, not any one group or another, that threatens Enlightenment values. It is fundamentalism that causes people to behave so barbarically, and it is fundamentalism that we, as a species, must defeat.

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Why is fundamentalism bad, and why is it ok for you to be fundamentalist in your anti-fundamentalism?

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At the risk of offending, I think Sam Harris explains this well.

As I recall he puts it, it is not fundamentalism itself that is the problem. A fundamentalist Jain (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jainism) is far less frightening than your average Jain (not that they are frightening in the least either) because the fundamentals of Jainism are extremely pacifist. As a Jain, the more fundamentalist you become the safer you become. The problem then is what the fundamentals of some fundamentalists are.

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Not really. Many violent fundamentalists belong to religions with prohibitions against violence that they have to rationalize away, and they tend to be quite good at it. The only reason there's no violent Jainist fundamentalists right now is because it's too tiny and powerless to have any.

Also, think about what redthrowaway is saying. He complains that religious fundamentalists "believe that their fundamentalist beliefs must triumph over liberal democracy, and they're willing to blow people up in order to see that happen", yet despite this abhorrence to violence he's quite happy to blow other people up in order to make sure that his beliefs win. Violent religious fundamentalists justify their actions in exactly the same way - you could swap the two sets of beliefs around and this would make perfectly servicable al-Qaeda propaganda!

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You're putting words in my mouth. I never said we must bomb those whose beliefs run counter to our own; I said we must respond to force in kind in the defence of that which we hold dear.

If I was in favour of bombing every religious fundamentalist, I would be advocating that we nuke the Amish. Clearly, I'm not. Our response to the intrusions of fundamentalism into our lives must be proportionate to the nature and magnitude of that intrusion.

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You may be interested in Karl Popper's (famous mostly for the importance of falsifiability) 'The Open Society and Its Enemies'.

Choice quote from it:

"Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them."

It is not a perfect book by any stretch, but I think it covers certain topics particularly well.

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History is stuffed to the brim with examples of violent fundamentalists belonging to powerless religions.

There are multiple reasons why they don't come to mind during these conversations though. Perhaps most obviously is that violent fundamentalists without numbers tend to be eradicated fairly quickly, leading to an obvious selection bias that makes us think that violent fundamentalism is something fairly unique to major religions.

I think though the more important cause is that when violent fundamentalists lack numbers there is little to no social pressure to tolerate them. Instead of calling them fundamentalists and making excuses for them, we label them cultists and call a spade a spade.

"rationalize away, and they tend to be quite good at it."

I think there comes a point in time when you have to ask why exactly fundamentalists of Abrahamic religions seem to find it so easy to "explain away" the "peacefulness" of their religions.

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I believe I can answer that.

Christian fundamentalists wish to take control of the US society, as well as government. We only have to look towards a religious-economic theory called Dominionism.

Dominionists wish for religious (of their brand) education taught in schools. Not only that, they wish for the 'laws of the land' to represent what they see fit for laws.

Others have discussed the evils of fundamentalist Islam more eloquently than I.

The underlying idea is fundamentalists of all types wish to force their rules, edicts, and etiquette upon others whom do not wish it. Fundamentalists need to be stopped, especially in cases the individuals being forced do not have enough power to defend themselves.

An example: I am effectively a pagan. I have certain beliefs and practices. I do not want to force my beliefs on others, up to and including wearing a pentagram on the inside of my shirt. However, I meet people regularly who try to preach the 'word of christ'. Is your faith that weak that you have to sell it like a used car dealership or auctioneer?

Yet, politically, we have rules enshrined that say one cannot hold state offices if one does does not believe in the "1 true god". Or politically, rules that allow Christians in classrooms but not of other religions. One only needs search google for countless examples.

I don't want other religions to bother me. It's like philosophical spam.

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Well, that's the problem with living in a democracy. If most people only feel comfortable when the legislators and judges are fellow Christians and the schools teach creationism, then that's what you're going to get, and depending on your interpretation, maybe that's what you should get.

Perhaps the reason you feel so accosted is because you are don't see proselytizing as important, and consequently, have no support because your fellow believers are so few.

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     Well, that's the problem with living in a democracy. If most people only feel comfortable when the legislators and judges are fellow Christians and the schools teach creationism, then that's what you're going to get, and depending on your interpretation, maybe that's what you should get.
Not quite. We live in a constitutional republic.

Next, creationism isn't science. It's justifying a bible story as where people and the earth came from. Many (if not all) religions have creation stories. The christian story has been perpetrated as some sort of pseudo science garbage that one does not need to prove to teach.

So, just to understand you: Because I don't try to shove my beliefs down others throats, it is my fault that others try the same to me?

     Perhaps the reason you feel so accosted is because you are don't see proselytizing as important, and consequently, have no support because your fellow believers are so few.
No. I have my unique set of beliefs. And in certain cases, I have proof. I can't demonstrate that proof, and I don't really need to. I'm probably the only person on this planet to have these very specific set of beliefs.

Why does my belief have to be challenged? I don't questions yours: I only say "Keep your practices to yourself, unless somebody else asks."

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Why does it matter if creationism is science? Art and literature aren't science either, but they are taught in schools because people think it will make the students better off. Religion is no different.

If part of your belief was that spreading your belief to others helps them, then you would do it. Religions that have such a belief will grow faster. Nobody's "at fault", that's just how it turns out.

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"how backward we are in terms of social equality; because we know we do and we don't want your intervention on it"

Good. Then don't ever ask us for our help in terms of money or aid.

"And I don't get it, how will a war solve anything."

Because at some point, this is the only thing that will stop extremists. You need to force their hand until they stop. It's your type of thinking that has allowed these barbaric actions to continue for 100s if not 1000s of years.

Look at what happened in WW2: The counties that tried appeasement got crushed.

"Is there going to a genocide where you kill all those who don't agree to you western culture"

An extremist that kills people for talking about their religion is much different than anyone that doesn't believe in "western culture and ideologies".

It is my belief that if a society truly wants to be free, they will fight for it. If not, they aren't ready. The US should really stop giving aid to any of these countries.

I'm just curious how many people need to die before people get sick of living this way.

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Do you really believe that anyone who is not exactly like you or do not believe exactly like you do should be killed?

I guess this follow the "anyone who isn't us are them" attitude. Them, the wrong people, and us, the right people. The right people who is white, christian, catholic, no wait Protestant, capitalist, West, Aryan and rich. The wrong people who is black, red, non-christian, Protestant, no wait catholic, communist, east, non-Aryan or poor.

This is not a war of cultures. Neither would such a war preserve Enlightenment values. Enlightenment require us to use reason rather than tradition or faith to handle the situation. It is unreasonable to act intolerant. It is unreasonable to react with violence where diplomacy and peaceful actions can resolve issues. It is unreasonable to react to culture with walls, bared doors, and hostile attitude.

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>Do you really believe that anyone who is not exactly like you or do not believe exactly like you do should be killed?

What part of my post suggests anything of the sort? I said we are in a war against religious fundamentalism whether we like it or not, and we had damned well better win. Your attempts to cast it as some racist diatribe are at best misguided, at worst malign.

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Desist. This will only generate a further flame war.

Restraint and control of your emotions, and control over your ability to incite the emotions of others is the more fitting action to pay tribute to his death.

He died precisely because someone privileged emotions over logic. Your actions and speech is in exactly the same vein.

On a logical level - these comments add little to the discussion.

They condone the asking of vague and undefined questions to subjects which are vastly nuanced, and complex.

They generate further simplistic answers from people creating knee jerk reactions to your comments.

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My point is simply that Western civilization, and the Enlightenment values that underpin it, faces an existential threat from religious fundamentalism. That further, our society is not compatible with this fundamentalism, and must be defended against it.

I fail to see how saying this is "privileging emotions over logic".

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I'd disagree. I thing Western civilization and Enlightment values do face an existential threat from extremism. Your opinion of "us vs them" is just another example of it.

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>My point is simply that Western civilization, and the Enlightenment values that underpin it, faces an existential threat from religious fundamentalism.

Closer to home is the threat to Enlightenment values comes from lobbyists buying off our politicians and slowly transforming us into the kind of third world shithole that fundamentalism thrives in. Maybe more of a high priority than evil Muslims on the other side of the world, eh? Less dramatic, though, so you can't feel all messianic about it and beat your chest from your armchair.

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I never said it was the only threat we face, but lobbyists, as far as I'm aware, don't blow people up for saying things they don't like. It's a fundamentally different degree of danger.

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You seriously feel in danger of getting blown up by Muslims? You're way more likely to get hit by a bus or get shot by the police.

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>You seriously feel in danger of getting blown up by Muslims?

Not at all. My argument is not predicated upon mortal danger to my person, but rather the existential threat to the beliefs I hold dear posed by those who meet criticism with indiscriminate murder. That they tend to be Muslims says something about Islam, and about the breakdown of civilization in that part of the world. However, I by no means lump the actions of a few extremists in with the billion other Muslims who don't murder innocents whenever they feel slighted.

>You're way more likely to get hit by a bus or get shot by the police.

A Big Mac is far more likely to kill you than either of those. Again, this is not about individual mortal danger, but rather about winning the culture war that we have no choice but to fight.

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"We will not win this battle with diplomacy; our enemy has no desire for it. We must stamp out the medieval death cults that threaten us, and this will require force."

"Culture war" or use of "force"? Or does "culture war" involve force?

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Whatever a culture war may or may not entail (I choose to remain optimistic, no matter how foolish that may be), it is certain that it will not be won by curbing our words to avoid offence. There are things that must be said about certain aspects of modern society that simply cannot be said politely.

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Culture war? Watch this...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3aHPPSqhbF4

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"evil Muslims on the other side of the world"

If only they were the only fundamentalists we had to worry about...

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I really thought you were more intelligent than this from some of your other posts. I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume your having a bad day.

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I actually had a great day today. My views on this matter are strong, but they are the evolved result of several years of reading and careful consideration. Certainly you would never have found me espousing such views during the Bush administration, but I've come to reevaluate my previous convictions.

We find ourselves in a clash of civilizations. On the one hand, we have the progeny of the Enlightenment. Despite our flaws, humanity has achieved unthought-of progress as a result of these ideals. On the other, we have fundamentalism characterized by our worst impulses: profound immaturity evidenced by the "you insulted me so now I'll hurt you" behaviour of these people, as well as unthinking supplication to unworthy authorities and adherence to their dictates.

It's worse than that, though. The people who called for and carried out this attack and others like it were not seeking to hurt those who insulted them. Rather, they perceived some offense and so struck out blindly, murdering innocents. This is the very height of immaturity. It is supremely childish, and is behaviour that would be distressing even in a toddler. This is what fundamentalism reduces us to: unthinking animals frothing at the mouth and indulging in our most base tendencies. It strips us of all semblance of civilization, and in so doing degrades the species as a whole.

These two paradigms, civilization and barbarity, are utterly incompatible. They cannot coexist. The unfeeling cruelty engaged in by these fundamentalists is anathema to the very foundations of our society and the human progress it engenders. Where the two cultures meet they will inevitably clash, inevitably with violence.

We must decide whether our values are worth fighting for. Education and economic liberation can only take us so far. Where the scions of hatred and ignorance come at us with arms, we must be prepared to respond in kind, or lose what our forebears fought for.

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Do you seriously not see the irony of claiming that fundamentalism reduces one to their most base of tendencies, while espousing exactly such behavior as a response?

We were all once barbaric (in many, many ways, still are). How did we get out of it? Education, not by some enlightened assholes blowing us up. Please take a step back from your emotion and think about what you're saying.

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He is simply saying that you should not bring a lollipop to a knife fight. Verbal confrontation and physical confrontation are very different. Trying to educate your opponent might work in a discussion on the merits some technical issue but will only serve to further provoke that drunk guy in the bar that wants to smash your face in. For some of us this lesson is hard to learn. But if we die because we did not learn it, it is the ultimate game over - you cant retry with a different perspective to win the argument, you lost. This changes the risk/reward scenario and being "nice" will not cut it. You will need to do everything in your power to prevent such irrevocable loss, including those things you would prefer not to do.

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Again, I'd ask you to reread what I'm proposing. I am not proposing the wholesale slaughter of those who believe differently than I, nor am I saying we must force our values on others. We must, however, defeat this foe. Where education and economic freedom can accomplish these goals, we should use them. However, the true nutbags will not be deterred by these means, and in fact actively fight against them. You can not educate away the Bin Ladens of the world; he in fact was very highly educated in Western schools. Where religious fundamentalists seek to destroy our culture with violence, we must be prepared to respond in kind.

Again, we didn't start this fight and we cannot coexist. This is not a matter of live and let live, as they won't let us live. The fundamentalists are expansionist, and are not happy unless everyone believes as they do. Take this attack, for instance. In Islam, you are forbidden from insulting the Prophet. Fine. If you're Muslim, then don't insult the Prophet.

That's not enough for them. They want everyone else to follow their dictates, too. Where they are not followed, these people think it entirely reasonable to murder innocents unconnected to the original "offense". Our only options, here, are to either respond with force or acquiesce. If we choose the latter, we have abandoned our values of free speech in favour of their values of adherence to their dogma. This cannot be.

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Keep in mind that there's a well-argued view that the worst excess of enlightenment thinking is totalitarianism, and that the American Revolution was in part a Counter-Enlightenment revolution.

Of course there is no one "Enlightenment" to point at - but the point is that one can take reason too far, to the point it has the same effect as religious extremism: "you are logically wrong so I'll hurt you".

Ultimately the point of many religious faith is a constant reminder we are all fallible and do not have access to absolute truth. Many fundamentalists forget this, preferring to focus on morality over faith.

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Good lord, things will never change because we will never learn. It's exactly this "fight X in all its forms" that causes the problem to begin with. Help people, educate people. If they don't want your help or your education bit them adieu and walk away to help someone else.

But what ever you do, don't start a fight and certainly don't start an idiotic idealogical fight ("X in all its forms!"). That's what got them here and it's what got us here.

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Sorry, but they've already started the fight. If only they would keep to themselves, I'd have no quarrel with them. The Amish are incredibly religious, but they keep to themselves. I would never say we have to get rid of the Amish Church.

Fundamentalist Islam, like Evangelical Christianity, is not like that. The first threatens our values with bombs, the latter with ballots. Both seek to unmake Western civilization, and remake it in their image. Both must be defeated. The only difference is that the Evangelicals are not yet blowing people up, and so our response to them need not be so firm. Make no mistake, though, our society simply isn't compatible with religious fundamentalism, and so it must be subdued and eradicated. In most places, we can do that with education, dialogue, and economic development. In others, it will require armed resistance.

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Good lord, you sound as frothing-at-the-mouth radical as any extremist I've ever heard. Subdue and eradicate those who behave or think different than us? Like the Jews for example?

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False equivalency. When Jews launch an aggressive campaign to kill those who merely disagree with them, you'll have a point.

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Aggressive campaign? They killed about 3k of our people. We've killed over 100k people in response. Which of those sounds more aggressive?

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From their perspective, we started the fight. If only we'd kept to ourselves, they'd have no quarrel with us. There's been a huge amount of really violent and nasty and selfish Western intervention in Africa and the Middle East and indeed most of the world since before you were even born.

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Instead of "fight[ing]," which seems to perpetuate the us-vs-them problem, why not focus on using enlightenment itself to preserve these enlightenment values? Instead of attacking magical thinking, promote rationality. Instead of attacking extremist religious belief, promote its antidote, a thirst for knowledge.

What would be really cool is if someone can figure out a way to trick the part of our brains that craves a Disney-style magical reality into contributing to its own demise. In other words, say to people, "Want a magical world? Join us in the use of science and technology to build it for ourselves."

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>Instead of attacking magical thinking, promote rationality. Instead of attacking extremist religious belief, promote its antidote, a thirst for knowledge.

Both are necessary. We must bring the fruits of the enlightenment, and the very real individual benefits thereof, to the people who would otherwise be ripe recruits for fundamentalism. To be blunt, however, we must also kill those who promote and carry out terrorist attacks against us.

>What would be really cool is if someone can figure out a way to trick the part of our brains that craves a Disney-style magical reality into contributing to its own demise. In other words, say to people, "Want a magical world? Join us in the use of science and technology to build it for ourselves."

While the second sentence seems suspect, I really like the first one. There would be a sort of cosmic beauty in using the vagaries of human consciousness that lead us to magical thinking to cure ourselves of same. Noe that would be a worthy hack.

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To be blunt, however, we must also kill those who promote and carry out terrorist attacks against us.

I'm not yet convinced of this. Maybe there truly are some people beyond redemption (with current technology), but I question how large that set could be, and doubt it encompasses every single member of any group designated by various governments as a terrorist organization (like Wikipedia).

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I'm past the editing time limit, so I'm responding to note that "Wikipedia" should be "Wikileaks". Firefox and my KDE color scheme interact badly, creating black-on-dark-gray input boxes. Custom user style sheets don't help.

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Must we also kill the guests and bride at a wedding that took place kinda sorta near a location where we think a terrorist is hanging out? Do you see the problem with this approach?

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> If we are to preserve the Enlightenment values...

Which ones? If you want these people to become civilized, you have to reject at least one value that masquerades as one from the Enlightenment: self-rule and self-determination. These people must be subjected to the rule of law, it will not spontaneously emerge even if we set up the structure for it and create for them a government with a constitution modeled after our own. Bring on another round of colonialism! We would also have to step it up with the manner in which we deal out punishments. Apart from the 2003 invasion of Baghdad by the US (and that's really stretching it), we haven't fought with our "gloves off" for a long time. That has to end, too.

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That's an interesting and cogent point. I think it true that we cannot merely present our values, and expect that they will adopt them. There will, by necessity, be some force (hard or soft) applied. How we accomplish this while remaining true to our values is a challenge in need of discussion.

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>Let it be known that, as a civilized people, we will not tolerate the barbaric intrusions of emotionally and intellectually stunted children who can be whipped into a murderous frenzy by some priest or imam prattling on about God.

A profoundly poor sentence.

You're ravings are better suited somewhere else, soon you'll be talking about the gates of Vienna and protection of enlightened Christian Europe.

>We didn't start this fight, and let no liberal or pacifist tell you that the suicide bombings and attacks on liberty are the result of our foreign policy; they are not. They are the result of the inherent incompatibility of freedom and fundamentalism. Freedom isn't free, and if we aren't willing to fight to preserve our liberty, then we will deservedly lose it.

I never imagined I would see something like this written in HN. Yes, the even is sad. The death and circumstances around it are terrible, but to take such a narrow one minded view only fuels the fire. These people have legitimate grievances which people in the west continue to fuel because they believe their moral values are more 'enlightened'.

Tell me, do you really think your post sounds like something coming from a 'civilized' person?

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>A profoundly poor sentence. You're[sic] ravings are better suited somewhere else, soon you'll be talking about the gates of Vienna and protection of enlightened Christian Europe.

If you'd like to make a point, I'd be happy to respond to it.

>These people have legitimate grievances which people in the west continue to fuel

Really? These people just bombed an embassy because a movie offended them. These people earlier bombed embassies because cartoons offended them. These people, earlier still, sentenced an author to death because they were offended by a segment in one of his novels, in which a paranoid schizophrenic hallucinates that he is the archangel Gibreel.

These people are barbaric, violent, and emotionally stunted. These people react to people saying things they don't like by blowing them up, and these people think it their right to force their beliefs on the world at the point of a sword or muzzle of an AK-47.

>they believe their moral values are more 'enlightened'

Our values are more enlightened, in case you hadn't noticed. Your attempts to draw false equivalences between a culture which enshrines freedom and equality in law, and one which attacks same at every turn, is both laughable and deplorable.

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My point is what are your values?

Democratic due process? Tell that to the Palestinians when they voted for Hamas in a free and fair election only to be shunned.

Freedom of speech? Tell that to the numerous people arrested and imprisoned around the world under sedition/hate speech because they talk about Jihad or defending their countries.

Freedom? America has the biggest imprisoned population in the world. Assuming you are American. Freedom is a cliche term thrown around with such little weight that it pains me to tears.

Who was it that shot down a civilian airliner but never apologised? Which countries invaded the middle east? Which countries colonised and looted most of what is now the third world. Which country kills journalists and bombs news broadcasting stations? Which countries bombed a environmental protest ship, killed crew and never apologised, yet in the same breath has the audacity to talk about a liberté, égalité and fraternité.

I mean your narrow, one sided, hypocritical and arrogant opinion is directly why some people get so angry. Consider the fact that all the things I mentioned before were performed by governments, not unruly mobs in anarchic post revolutionary states. Who is truly barbaric?

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>Tell that to the Palestinians when they voted for Hamas in a free and fair election only to be shunned.

I hate to pull out this one, but Hitler was democratically elected, as well. Just because a government was chosen by its people does not mean that it is legitimate. Hamas seeks the eradication of a state and its people; it is rightly shunned. Now, I'm by no means pro-Israel. The Palestinian people need to have their own contiguous, viable state, despite how dim that prospect looks at present.

>Assuming you are American

I am not, and you'll find no support for the current American legal system from me. I do, however, highly value the American Constitution and the values it represents. It saddens me that those values are not better defended at present.

What I take from your post is that you seem to think I am some neocon imperialist. I am not. I despise injustice wherever it occurs, and my sentiments are distinctly post-statist. That said, Western civilization faces an existential threat from an enemy who despises its very foundations, and it is our very pluralism that blinds us to this threat. Too often, too many commit the fallacy that damns cultural relativism: that we must be tolerant of the intolerant. To this, I say no! We cannot tolerate that which attacks the very ideals our society is based upon. If we truly believe the foundations of our society to be morally superior, then when must defend them. It falls to those who deny this claim to show how a society predicated on subjugation and inequity can be morally equivalent to one predicated upon liberty and equality.

I feel it necessary to further clarify that I do not defend the actions of any particular Western country wholesale, rather I defend the precepts upon which Western civilization is based. Were the religious fundamentalists (of any origin) content to keep to themselves, I would have no problem with that. The fact is, they aren't. For them, it is not enough that they follow their beliefs; others must follow them too. This brings them into direct conflict with us, and it's a conflict they started. If we wish to maintain or, better yet, improve our society, we must first defend it against those who would see it remade in their likeness.

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> Just because a government was chosen by its people does not mean that it is legitimate.

Actually, it does.

One can't argue the Nazi's were illegitimate. They were legitimate (for a short time). One could argue they were evil and needed to be deposed by external force.

> This brings them into direct conflict with us, and it's a conflict they started.

They started it? That's cycle of violence rhetoric, and partly why you're getting pushback.

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>They started it? That's cycle of violence rhetoric, and partly why you're getting pushback.

This argument is simply wrong. Those who engage in terrorist attacks against us do not do so because we invaded there lands, or any such thing. This is a dangerous fallacy. One of the most ridiculed statements of the Bush administration is actually the closest we've come to the truth: they hate us for our freedoms. Truly, they do. The islamic fundamentalists view western civilization not because of our military imperialism, but because of our cultural imperialism. They hate that our values and culture turn "good muslims" into crass, liberal swine.

Now, certainly there are those in the middle east who hate our interventionism, and with good reason. They have legitimate complaints. But they are not the ones blowing themselves up, nor are they the ones encouraging same. OBL didn't give a rat's ass about our military intervention in the middle east; he hated the liberalization and secularization of Arab countries. One of the worst lies told by the left (of which I proudly consider myself a member) is that terrorism is a response to our imperialism. It isn't. It's a response to our values.

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OBL isn't the issue. The thousands or millions of followers, who suffered under CIA power plays, who think OBL's ideas are better than anything else not putting food in their mouths. OBL was a US ally before he was an enemy. The US supported th Taliban against the Soviets.

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The US has no interest whatsoever in fighting religious extremism. It fights to secure resources and strategic interests that primarily benefit the wealthiest members of its society. When it furthers US 'interests', the most brutal, oppressive, and religiously intolerant regimes on the planet are lavishly supported.

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