Islamic Fundamentalism: Still A Danger

The hyper-reactionary hatred of Terry Jones and his merry band of bigots down in Florida may have muddled the waters surrounding Islamic fundamentalism and its dangers, showing that we certainly have our own share of anti-intellectual sorcerers. Now that that and the Ground Zero hate festival is over, however, Islamic radicalism’s ugly head is springing back up with a story out of my native Seattle:

In a disturbing and matter-of-fact article, Seattle Weekly’s editor in chief Mark D. Fefer explained to readers that there would not be a cartoon by Molly Norris in that week’s paper, nor would there be one in any future issues. No, she wasn’t fired. Norris has followed advice from the FBI, left town, and changed her name after a fatwa was placed on her by Islamic extremists following her cartoon promoting the made up “Draw Mohammed Day.”

Norris has been effectively silenced into submission (that word used intentionally) by the forces of fear. If we play by the rules of religious fundamentalists, Muslim, Christian or whatever other theocratic label the forces of reaction choose to label themselves with, we are not going to live in freedom any more. We will live in the same feudal regression that now dominates the Middle East and that once dominated the West during the times in which Galileo Galilei was put under house arrest by the Catholic Church for his theory of heliocentrism. While Thomas Freidman may have jokingly called his book on globalization The World Is Flat, forces around the world who fear their “traditional” cultures are under threat by globalization seek to have us regress to an era in which knowledge was illegal and, in the minds of men, the world was flat.

  • Procopius

    If anyone is living if fear, it’s you. While you wait for the next person who wants to invite whatever fatwa over their planned exploits, the rest of the world is living its life.

    Or maybe this country should keep spending trillions of dollars in the Middle East and central Asia to ensure that things get mired perpetually deeper into what you fear. idk. We don’t have the money to do for much longer anyway. Maybe then the Great Islamlic Dread Armies will engulf us at that time.

  • Michael

    It’s not fear of Islamic fundamentalism that is key here but fundamentalism generally. With honor killings up throughout the world, book burnings in our country and the pope speaking down to atheists after years of scandal, fundamentalism is pushing the worst of humanity. I’m not advocating war anymore but reason here and worldwide.

  • Muchael

    In that last post, “anymore” should have been “anywhere.”

  • Procopius

    Mike I think you should be more clear about what you consider “good.” Our 1970-Now involvement in the Middle East, to include our modern wars, or not, or what. Is this “God’s Work” at hand?

  • Michael O. Powell

    The problem is that I have very complicated, contradictory views on this. I have family members from North Africa, one of which is a big human rights activist. The danger of fundamentalism is something I think about because it comes up in my life. It’s not abstract as I’m sure it is for many Americans.

    Given that, of course, the United States is not in a position to nation building and certainly does not have the credibility or fiscal ability to do so. We also play as destructive a role often for every time we play a positive one. With bridges collapsing and schools furloughing in the most historically prosperous parts of America, it’s really hard to make the case that Afghanistan should be our focus when Americans at home can’t make ends meet.

    Given that, what is prudent now should not be what is viewed as written in stone permanently. In the 1990s, it was prudent and necessary to take out Milosevic and end a major genocide of Eastern European Muslims. When they have the ability to do so, superpowers should avert disaster. They shouldn’t try to offensively reshape the world, however, and certainly shouldn’t make building up other nations a priority over building their own.

    To say what is good, however – I would say that symbolic support of Iranian dissidents would benefit us far more than acting like we’re about to take out that regime or assist Israel in doing so. There are many liberal democrats throughout the Muslim world that could be the natural allies of America if we took a more JFK esque “Ich bin ein Berliner” approach than a “United States Uber Alles” one.