War, Religion, Terrorism, and Other Random Nonsense
My last post generated a number of thoughtful comments, so I thought I’d write a follow up post. Not to mention that my life has gotten extremely busy, I’m between Internet connections, and my main computer got an ugly virus. So I won’t have the time or the means to write dedicated posts in the near future. Add it all up and it equals more random posts on various things … in this case several thoughts inspired by the comments people left on the last post.
First, absolutely agree that the more people are certain they know what is going on in the world, the less they know. Most people couldn’t play a decent game of chess to save their lives, and they are going to tell me they have history and current events all figured out? Chess has 5 types of pieces and very simple rules, the world has millions of different pieces and people make up their own rules. This is why extremists of all ilks bore me, of course they are wrong. If there were simple answers, people and nations would all live in harmony and peace.
We don’t all live in harmony and peace, although times have been getting better in some respects. More on that later. Now, a pet peeve about atheists especially, but a lot of other people as well, including the religious. So so many atheists have cheesed me off by claiming that religion inspires a lot of violence, true … then claim that 9/11 was caused by religion, FAIL. Here in the USA we have been subjected to endlessly repeated propaganda about how the big bad Muslims hate us all because of their religion, but the reality is far more complicated.
Yes, jihadists and extremists like Osama Bin Laden aren’t nice people and they have done some very bad things, and no doubt their faith plays a big role in their motivations … as faith motivates people everywhere of all faiths. Their grievances though, the things that have inspired “Islamic” violence in the Middle East since 1948 … are purely secular. The situation in Palestine, western support for dictatorships like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, American actions in Iraq, all inspired and inspire entirely predictable and “rational” violent responses in some quarters.
I’m not justifying violence, I’m pointing out that violence in response to violence is entirely normal. And the USA and Israel have killed a large number of people in the Middle East, killing that goes on today. And as General McChrystal said, every civilian we kill makes the US ten new enemies. Or more scientifically, several studies have shown that Islamic suicide bombers are not motivated by religion or a desire to sleep with virgins in heaven, they tend to be educated people making the ultimate sacrifice to defend their homes and families and way of life. And often they are people who have lost loved ones to an enemy. One of the first suicide bombers in Iraqi history was a women whose husband was killed in the US invasion. She walked up to an American checkpoint and set off some grenades. Made a BIG impression on other Iraqis I might add. Would there be American Christians who might do the same thing if our country was invaded and occupied by a “benevolent” invader? I sure hope so.
Moving right along, I just read this article which makes the claim that major state sponsored killing is down dramatically since the nineteen eighties, IE there are far fewer big wars going on today. It also makes the claim that 9/11 was an extremely unusual event wildly outside the norm for terrorist attacks, true … and that governments murder vastly wildly more people than terrorists, also true, and that in the twentieth century there have been fewer than twenty terrorist attacks that killed more than 100 people. I don’t believe that for a moment, unless the author is only talking about terrorist attacks in the west I suppose. The main point is that governments kill vastly more people than terrorists. And that here in the West, the threat of terrorism is trivial, and people shouldn’t buy into the permanent state of war and fear mongering that the US government in particular seems to be selling.
The article also makes the point that wars are down because outright conquest simply isn’t cost effective these days. And that I agree with, but it’s fodder for another day and anther post.
“Peace is not only better than war, but infinitely more arduous.”
George Bernard Shaw
(The above image, being a faithful reproduction of a work that has long been in the public domain, is claimed as Public Domain under US copyright law. It’s by the sixteenth century Dutch painter Pieter Bruegel, it’s titled: Massacre of the Innocents. It shows Spanish soldiers murdering a Dutch village. In the original painting the animals and packages being tossed about and killed were children, but the first owner found the images too disturbing and had them painted over. The Spanish slaughtered all sorts of Dutch people, and yes, they used religion as an excuse, whole villages would be declared “heretics” and executed. The motivation was the same one all conquerers have though, greed. I don’t think I need to spell out why I chose this image, but just in case some wonder, it’s to show that nothing has really changed much since then, the cycle of war and violence is eternal apparently.)