July 25, 2003

Seeds of Our Demise, Part 8996

These eyes have just beheld the most interesting (I use that for want of a better word) example of anti-religious bigotry yet. It occured in the comment thread to this post. One "Zeke" wrote:

All those good men you mentioned are dead because there are Islamic fanatics that hate us and everything we stand for. I don't pretend to understand them, or feel anything for them except the need to destroy them. But U. and Q., for all their despicable qualities, were not religious fanatics.

Then someone named "Valencia" chimed in:

I agree with Zeke. While I liked this piece overall (especially the bits about the firehouse, which I thought were very touching), I thought it conflated a lot of disparate elements under the Islamic extremist banner. I don't think the reason Hussein & crew were so nasty to their people had much to do with religious extremism, whereas the attack on WTC certainly did

So being raped, tortured, and killed by a religious fanatic is worse than having same done to one by an agnostic thug. Mm-hm, I see.

Posted by Andrea Harris at July 25, 2003 12:05 AM

During the Reagan years, I remember progressive (actually, they were still liberal, then) friends of mine arguing that anything other than a wholesale condemnation of ALL human rights violations was consistent and ethical. "Black or red, the terrorized are still terrorized."

Of course, the point was that our support for Guatemalan death squads and the like was at least as bad as Soviet activities in Afghanistan and in Eastern Europe.

Now that the great issue of Communism vs. Western freedom has been resolved, isn't it interesting how terror now DIFFERS, depending on who's doing it? That, as you note, being killed by a religious fanatic is worse than being done in by a secular terrorist.

And no matter which argument you pick, whoever WE oppose is still the one that deserves the sympathy?

Posted by: Dean at July 25, 2003 at 10:38 AM

Zeke and Valencia say U and Q weren't driven to their barbaric acts by religious fanaticism. In this they are correct.

I don't see a hint of sympathy for U and Q in their comments, nor anything which even remotely translates to "being raped, tortured and killed by a religious fanatic is worse than having same done to one by an agnostic thug". Zeke and Valencia are merely pointing out the category difference between Arab fascists and Muslim fascists. Their comments are reasonable in both tone and substance. I think we may safely assume that they hold U and Q in the same low esteem as the 9/11 perps.

Posted by: dipnut at July 25, 2003 at 12:54 PM

I think dipnut is right. Don't see anything in Zeke and Valencia's statments that cry out "I am an anti-religious bigot". They are saying that Q and U are not religious extremists.

Is that what you disagree with?

Or is the idea that the Hussein regime was not religously extremist that makes you uncomfortable.

Posted by: ESP at July 25, 2003 at 01:44 PM

Hey, ESP, yeah, it makes me really uncomfortable that the Hussein regime "was not religously (sic) extremist." [/END SARCASM] Normally I'd consider someone who said something like that a troll. Perhaps you didn't mean it to come out that way.

To address dipnut: perhaps I am too sensitive, but I read Zeke's comment on how he doesn't "pretend to understand them," (religious fanatics) "or feel anything for them except the need to destroy them" as the sort of bigoted statement we are always getting criticised for. He seems to have spent a couple of braincells on figuring out the Husseins, ones which he does not seem to think that religiously motivated killers deserve. I just couldn't figure out why he needed to even mention his feelings towards one or the other. And then Valencia chimed in... In any case, they seemed to imply (and I will again say that perhaps I am being too picky) that there were differences in degree between the two sorts of evil groups in just how evil each is. I could be mistaken.

I didn't say that either he or Valencia weren't reasonable. Incidentally, Zeke answered me in the comment thread with a statement to the effect of "secular despots are generally not a threat to our security," and I responded rather stridently, but I still think that his statement was too sweeping. Perhaps now secular enemies are less of a problem than religious ones, but that isn't always the case.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at July 25, 2003 at 09:50 PM

Just trying to understand and pardon my spelling.

The underlying post that Zeke and Valencia was speaking of was (If I recall correctly) about the firefighters who lost their lives on 9/11. It seemed reasonable to me to be a little bloodthirsty after dwelling on something that emotional. That is my emotional reaction when I first hear about a heinous crime or about atrocities. You think that someone that evil should not ever be allowed to that again.

Myself, I don't care if you are a secular despot or a religious one, they both deserve to be removed from power, tried, convicted and thrown in prision or executed. Failing that, the fate that befell Q and U will do. It is just more likely that the religious fanatic is a hypocrite as well. I don't suffer hypocrisy in myself or others well. Then again we are all hypocrites at times.

Next, just who is we?

If you arguing from the right then I guess it is reasonable for you take what they wrote as trollish. The impression that I got from your comments was that you were being trollish, and frankly I was being trollish in that last question. As Mel Gibson said in "Braveheart" "I'm goin to peck a fight." I don't mind picking a fight, or participating as long as it doesn't get personal. Don't learn anything that way.

The question of whether a secular despot is more of threat than a religious one is interesting. Generally, I would think that secular despots are more interested in retaining their power, and making money. To do this they oppress their people and as long as they are left alone they will leave you alone.

Religious fanatics (or political ones for that matter) are a different animal. If you are of their religion you will probably not run afoul of them. However, in the context of Islam v. Judeo-Christian they are more dangerous.

I gathered that Saddam saw himself as a Saladin. Thus, more of a military or secular despot. After G41 and the coalition kicked his butt I think he gave up on those aspirations and played at being the religious despot. No one bought it.

Now, how Hussein being a religious despot or secular one impacts on the Bush Admin's justification for the war is something that reasonable people can and have argued to they are blue in the face. The "truth" of that is better left to historians that will get hold of the de-classified papers after I am long dead.

Posted by: ESP at July 26, 2003 at 02:17 AM

Just to answer one of your points: by no means had Saddam Hussein given up any of his ambitions. There is absolutely no evidence for that, and plenty of evidence to the contrary. Your statement is a product of wishful thinking and a misunderstanding of how despots, secular or otherwise, operate.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at July 26, 2003 at 08:41 AM

Hence the words "I gathered" and "I think". I was not saying that he gave up being a despot but that he attempted to make himself over to a more religious one.

As far as evidence, no I do not read or speak Farsi. I have not been an eyewitness to anything in Iraq, ever. I am not privy to Iraqi documents. I do not have access to the Iraqi people(other than occasional man on the street clips on the news) nor government officials. I do not have access to classified U.S. government information (where the "truth" is most likely to be) That is where the real evidence is, not in the hearsay that we receive from the media or news documentaries. Even well documented history can have the authors bias in it. Hence, it is only my opinion.

Even the media "evidence" is biased as so many on the right have been bemoaning for 15-20 years. And both right and left routinely misquote, twist and ignore what the media as a whole says to suit the needs of their passionate and immediate argument. Hence, it is only my opinion.

Finally, no I guess I really don't understand know how despots operate, having never been one myself. Is it like. . . no I won't go there. I have never meet a despot, just don't run in those circles. My understanding comes from, history, media and I certainly did not lay out all of my "understanding" in the previous post.

You seem to imply from your last sentence that you do.

Posted by: ESP at July 26, 2003 at 01:33 PM