Monday, December 03, 2007

More than my nutjob's worth

...did appear to be our Foreign Office's response to calls for them to show a bit more gumption in the Sudan, but behind the scenes at least they have been working tirelessly as they say, to achieve what is in the end a reasonable result.

Yesterday V was at the home of one of La Antigua's more upstanding citizens who was soon at pains to warn her that children born as a result of cloning, artificial insemination and other such abominable scientific practices have no soul or spirit, and as a result of the world filling up with such 'out of the game' beings, God would soon have no choice but to 'exterminate' us all.

This is of course just as moronic as having a hissy fit because someone decided to name a teddy Mohammed. And the irony of course is that it is today the religious nutjobs of the world that most closely resemble soul-stripped automata.

Whilst on face value it seems to me that devout, dogmatic Christian belief is a more barking mad state of mind than by-the-book Islam − Mohammed having stripped out a lot of the nonsense in his quest for a purer form of monotheistic piety − it is also the case that it currently presents far fewer dangers as a global political force. (George Bush notwithstanding).

This is because Christianity in the West had its theocratic sting taken out over three hundred years of major cultural reforms between the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. You might not know it today, but when they drafted the US Constitution, men like James Madison were determined to establish a lasting separation of church and state in their piece of America, going so far as to suggest the banishment of chaplains from the military.

Reverses there have been (generations of over-heated revolutionary nutjob types have surely given atheism a bad name) but, extremist rhetoric aside, modern Christians are surely entirely less likely to take up the cross than many Muslims are to sign up for the lesser Jihad.

In Orhan Pamuk's Snow, the protagonist Ka visits the border city of Kars where there has recently been a sharp rise in the number of young women taking their own lives. Some clearly feel oppressed by their religion and the patriarchal society it underpins, but others are committing suicide because they can no wear their headscarves in Turkey's secular schools. Perhaps the important lesson from this is the poison doesn't so much ooze out from what many feel are our 'inherent' spiritual urges, so much as from the wounds occasioned by an unconstrained clash of values and its effect on impressionable minds.

Given the unlikelihood that we will find a new planet for the Islamicist nutjobs to re-locate to any time soon, we are going to have to find a way to neutralise them ideologically. A tough ask, given that most of the ways we have tried so far have served only to exacerbate their frenzy.

Part of the problem we face is that with the disarray experienced by the socialist opponents of capitalism since the early nineties, religious nutjobism has become the natural home of western society's malcontents. This, coupled with the impact of globalisation, means that the confrontation is also essentially one between modernity and archaic cultural forms, which has helped to breed virulent hybrids like Islamism.

So I would stop short of agreeing with Ayaan Hirsi Ali when she states that all Islamic observance inevitably tends towards Islamism, because recent historical contact with our own western currents of extremism does seem to have been a necessary factor in enabling the innately political tendencies within Islam to flourish to such deadly effect.

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