Up at 2:30AM packing for a trip to New York to attend my eldest sister’s wedding. Yes, photos of that event will be forthcoming, too, once I get the Africa photos done!
Today I got my new headshots done for an updated press kit. I think my head looks fat. Man, have I bloated of late! What do you think?
Back to the heavy stuff… A couple of people have asked about my contention that terrorism is a political thing and not a religious thing. After all, if a suicide bomber screams the name of his god as he murders a dozen people, is that not indication of a religious basis for his action? As I mentioned in a commentary elsewhere, it’s my belief that religion is an enabler, not a cause. Politics is always the cause.
It’s easy to forget that Muslims did not invent terrorism. It’s been around as a political strategem for centuries. One can argue that Robin Hood was a terrorist. The patriots at the Boston Tea Party were terrorists. Guy Fawkes was a terrorist. Jews fighting for the establishment of Israel, lead by the likes of the late cyclops, Mr Begin, were terrorists. Chrstian abortion-bombers are clearly terrorists, as are the militiamen in the American frontier. The unabomber, too, was a kind of terrorist hoping to effect pro-environmental political change through his random killings. And of course the IRA were terrorists.
To expand the discussion, it can easily be argued that any force that attacks a civilian population for the purposes of attaining a political goal are in essence terrorists. When armies deliberately target civilians to win a battle or get a strategic advantage, that’s terrorism. The blitzing of London in WWII was terrorism by the Nazis, designed to stultify Britons with fear. Axis launches of disease- and exposives-filled balloons to the American shore were acts of terrorism with political but no military goals. When Truman nuked Hiroshima and Nagasaki, large urban centres were chosen for a maxmimal death count –not to effect a military outcome, but to both politically coerce the Japanese and to send a message to the Russians. That was terrorism. Was it justified? The hawks say so. So, by their world view, sometimes terrorism can be justified.
Clearly, religion is not necessary for the conduct of terrorist acts. It’s not even needed for the generation of suicide bombers. Japanese kamikazee pilots weren’t religious fanatics, after all. Rather, for those already stirred by a political bug, such as a perceived injustice, a galvinizing and linking force might be religion. It might also be race (in the case of the Jews) or nationality (in the case of the Yankees). I’m open to the suggestion that Islam might more easily lend itself to being such a galvinizing force than, say, Buddhism. The West’s longer flirtation with secularism has mostly, though not entirely, removed those teeth from Christianity. But let’s not kid ourselves: every religion contains the seeds for extreme dogmatic positions which lead quite easily to the enabling of terrorist actions. All that’s required is enough perceived systematic injustice.
My Toronto Star article appears in today’s issue. Read it online here and here.