Thursday, July 06, 2006

"Their reality has lapped our satire."

A satirical cartoonist despairs over on Daily Kos. The issues that prompted this despair are the very two issues I address in my previous two posts. It seems to have gone beyond the point where mockery is a useful tool. People should not be run out of town because of their religious beliefs or because they try to get the public schools to be less aggressively Christian. And that statue…is it hysterical to use the phrase “American Taliban” to describe the fusion of fanatical religion with the power and iconography of the state that that image represents?

Sane Christians, please wake up and make some noise. Atheists and bloggers (and atheist bloggers) are not yet a match for this lunacy. Again, I think one of the great challenges for the 21st century will be: Can religious people reign in or defuse their own extremists who have political ambitions? This is a question for the United States and its Christianists, for Israel and its “God gave us all of this land” crowd, for Islam and its Taliban. These cases are all different of course. But the fundamental need for moderate people (who want to be able to get along with others), to prevail over fanatics (who want to dominate, exclude, or kill others) is there in all cases. And, as many of my readers have pointed out, that is most easily done from within a religious tradition rather than from the outside. What we don’t want is for one religion to try to stop another religion’s violence (often using violence, of course): that gives you the Israeli occupation, The United States and its Middle Eastern blundering, and anti-Western Islamic terrorism. Again, these are all very different phenomena with different moral justifications, but they have a common theme of people from one religion attempting to use violence to change the violent behavior of people of another religion. I think they also have in common a theme of not being particularly successful.

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