(Note: this article was written in 7/16, when the onslaught happened. It has been updated in 8/20 because, like many of RG’s articles, the importance of understanding what happened and why is relatively timeless.)
In his response to a Muslim terrorist killing 50 gays in a gay nightclub, President Obama didn’t mention Islam. However, he did condemn hate, assault rifles, and discrimination against gays.
With black and white quasi-fundamentalist thinking in the US, many people think Obama is all right or all wrong. However, he seems to be right on many things and wrong on some things….some big things.
For instance, he is totally right on assault rifles. It is insane and without any reason whatsoever that the U.S. permits citizens to buy and own assault rifles. For what? Is there any purpose for assault weapons other than to mow down numerous people at once? Do hunters need them? Do home owners need them to protect their property? Are they any good for individuals fighting an oppressive government (for which the 2nd Amendment was created)?
We come back again and again to the philosophical error of fundamentalism. Gun proponents often cite the constitution’s 2nd Amendment: “The right to own guns shall not be infringed.”
First of all, the Constitution, like the Koran and the Bible – and every other human document — are not absolute documents. They don’t contain absolute, eternal, and certain truths – regardless of how much we strive for these absolute truths. (Who wants to live in a world or probability and uncertainty?)
With the Bible and the Koran, the key theological conflict (the thesis and anti-thesis) is whether or not God:
1) has revealed his truth at a certain time, once and for all; or
2) whether He is continuing to reveal truth. (Some believers hold that God reveals new truths at every moment; others believe He stopped revealing himself after Jesus, 2000 years ago, or after Mohammed, 1400 years ago.)
Concerning the Constitution, the thesis is that it contains certain and absolute truth. The anti-thesis to this belief is that the Constitution needs to be modified and interpreted as history moves on.
Concerning assault weapons, the 2nd Amendment was written when only one-shot rifles and cannons were available. Thus the writers must have meant that Americans must have the right to own rifles or canons. And it is quite possible that writers didn’t mean that every Tom, Dick, and Harry had the right to own a canon. And certainly they didn’t mean that every person had the right to own a surface-to-air missile….or an assault rifle.
Probably, in the long run, the 2nd Amendment will have to be repealed. Then the right to own weapons will be decided by political lawmakers. Then, hopefully the U.S. will be like nearly every other country in the world and prohibit the purchase and ownership of assault rifles……or surface-to-air missiles.
Fundamentalism and Islam
Obama may have even been right in not mentioning the Islamic influence on these – now common – mass murders.
Obama may have learned from George Bush II that we should be careful before we declare war on a country or, in this case, a religion. If he stated that fundamentalist Islam was a main cause of such carnage, he could have opened a destructive can of worms that could not be contained.
Obama may have decided to leave more absolute truth to writers (like me), academicians, and religious leaders, and leave political truth to politicians. That is, politicians must only state truths when they don’t have dysfunctional consequences.
Those other persons concerned with truth can state the truth as they see it, and let the chips fall where they may. These non-politicians’ chips don’t cause war, starvation, economic collapse, and other destructive effects. Good politicians must be more functional……and more responsible with their words
However, fundamentalist Islam is a main cause of all these murders, and most people know it. Whole nations of people yelling “Death to America” has effects.
And most laypersons are aware that the Koran is basically a fundamentalist document. Most Muslims believe that the Koran is directly from Allah, is literally true, and cannot be modified. And many laymen are aware that the Koran specifically states that:
believers have the right to kill infidels;
that women should be subordinated to men (that is, they are inferior);
that homosexuals can be killed;
that thieves can have their hands cut off;
that apostates (any Islamic believer who converts to another religion) can be killed;
that there should be no separation between religion and state (religious leaders should rule the country);
that the whole word should submit to Allah, the Koran, and Allah’s representatives here on earth, the Caliphates; and
that Muslims have the right to impose Islam on people by force.
The anti-thesis to the above paragraph is that it is cherry picking statements out of the Koran and that the Koran says the opposite of these beliefs as well.
This anti-thesis may be true. One can interpret sections of the Koran in many different ways. And Islamic leaders (Imams) have done exactly that. Some say “peace” and some say “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.”
However, the fact remains that many Muslims – probably over 5% — believe in the violent interpretation of Jihad. These believers are not extremists; they are not psychopaths; they are not psychotics. They are authentic Islamists who believe in an authentic and rational interpretation of the Koran. They are not necessarily wrong. The Koran is wrong.
We can see the 1.3 billion Muslims as falling on a bell curve, going from the right wing, through the peak in the middle, and onto the left wing.
Probably, from 1% to 25% are on the right wing, believing in a variation of the above-stated values. Perhaps another 1% to 25% are on the left wing – advocating peace, democracy, separation of church and state, and religious freedom. The rest can be seen in the middle somewhere.
The problem that the world has with Muslims is that probably over 5% of Muslims are committed to the violent and fundamentalist interpretation of the Koran. They will put this belief into practice if given the chance. This means that out of the 1.3 billion Muslims in the world, over 65 million will practice violence to promote their religion if given the chance (including destroying Israel). It also means that of the one million Muslim immigrants that German recently took in, over 50,000 are committed to use violence to promote Islam if given the chance.
This fact is an anti-thesis to the current Progressive belief that an ethical person cannot “generalize about people.” Thus, by definition, they believe that all people are the same and all groups of people, including Hindus, Christians, and Buddhists, have the same percentage of their followers committed to the violent practice of their religion as in the Muslim religion.
These Progressives the dysfunctional belief that we cannot think rationally or freely when deciding policies regarding Muslims. They demand that we base all of our perceptions and thoughts on the (false) premise that all religions and all people are equal in every way. Anything else is racist.
And then we must passively and quietly accept the consequences of this dysfunctional — but idealistic — belief.