Wednesday, July 20, 2016

When the bush is gone, what are you going to beat around?

For more than a dozen years, values that most of us feel to be true humanistic values have been openly and flagrantly under attack and when the people that should be the most defensive of those values are afraid to truly stand up for them, we're definitely heading in the wrong direction.

What I'm speaking about is the idea that is being referred to, generally, as regressive leftism.  I encourage people to look up the term and to understand about it (both arguments for and arguments against - learning benefits us all).  There's one specific point of it that this blog is going to be about - not identifying the problem with the correct terms.

When the attack on Charlie Hebdo occurred, many people found it acceptable, though, on all other occasions, they would argue that the right to free speech is absolute, to say that the cartoonists were "stupid" for "offending" Islam.  This is victim blaming and, as you'll see in other parts of this blog, I think it is abhorrent.  There is nothing that the cartoonists/publishers did to deserve death.  (Just as leaving your laptop in the back of the car does not make you responsible for its theft and putting the box from your new large screen TV at the curb does not make the criminal less responsible for the later theft of it.)

When the second major terrorist attack occurred in France (though wrongly, as it should have never been a situation of victim blaming), the conversation could very well have changed.  It hardly did.  The Islamic terrorists, though pledging allegiance to an Islamic terrorist organization, were very sparingly identified as such.

The Pulse nightclub massacre occurs and the conversation (though I completely agree that guns are a problem, more on that later) turns to gun control and assault rifles.  Reports quickly tried to distance the attacker from a "true" Islamic terrorist suggesting that he didn't know "true" Islam.

Then, only days ago, an Islamic terrorist drives a large truck through a crowded area and kills 84 (or more) innocent people.  ISIS was quick to claim the terrorist as one of their "soldiers" and it has become (as if it wasn't almost certainly going to turn out that way) absolutely clear that he was driven by religion to commit such an atrocity.

Today, I scroll through my wife's Facebook feed to see people defending religious belief -- that this attack was an aberration of faith and/or that the Islamic terrorist wasn't well educated about Islam.  One part of that argument is the "No True Scotsman" fallacy - that anyone who does anything that doesn't agree with your definition of a thing isn't a "true" one.  The second part of the argument could be completely true (and it is something that this blog has touched on a number of times) - that most followers/believers are far less educated about their faith than many atheists and critics are.

I apologize for the digression but I think it helps illustrate the point.  When Catholics were polled about acceptance of evolution, only 68% of them believe "humans evolved over time" -- despite acceptance of evolution being the actual position of the church.  Recent interviews with Christians revealed general ignorance of the bible - the vast majority of people in the pews are not familiar that the bible stories about Jesus were not written by eye witnesses.  This is a fact that educated theologians, almost without exception, completely agree with.  From a personal experience perspective, when speaking with "average" believers, I have yet to come across one that is familiar with many bible stories/references that I often bring up - a large number of Christians simply know only what is told to them from the pulpit or they are just willfully ignorant and have been sold on the idea that claiming to be a Christian or blindly defending the bible and the church is the right and moral position to take.

It isn't a defense of religion to say that its adherents who are committing atrocities aren't educated enough about that particular religion - it is a scathing indictment of the dangers that religions and faith poses.  It is completely possible that ISIS is using a misinterpretation of the Islamic texts or it may be that ISIS is using religion as justification or even that ISIS is taking advantage of Islamic adherence.  Either position you want to take on that, the finger still points to religion in general and Islam in particular.

Given that this entry is already in excess of 600 words, I won't be thorough in the discussion about what the Koran, Bible and other "holy" books actually say, it is important to not gloss over the fact that the actions and claims of religious terrorists are well supported in the books/doctrines that they adhere to.  Many Christians will probably read this and argue that this is an Islam only problem but, until the Enlightenment (and even now with their record on equal rights (on everything), abortion, birth control, science education and much more), Christians were no better (arguably worse) than Islamic terrorists of today.  The Christian bible has countless horrible ideas and stories and any Christian that denies such only further goes to illustrate the point that whenever a Christian tells me to "read the bible", I'm often correct in stating "it isn't me that hasn't read the bible".

I'll be absolutely clear - Islamic terrorism is real and belief in the unbelievable is to blame.  As Jim Jefferies says "This isn't a war on Islam, it is a war on religion".  Let's call it what it is and the sooner we start to, the better off we'll all be - hopefully it happens while there's still even a bush left for you to beat around.