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  • It's a mad world

       November 11, 2009

    After the Fort Hood attack, I've heard people everywhere say the same line about how the vast majority of Muslims are peaceful people. I've always believed that too. I desperately want to believe that. But the more I think about it, the more I think that it's not really true. And not just about Muslims. Maybe we're all one crazy movement away from terrorism, murder & mayhem.

    Back in college, I took at great class called Contemporary Political Thought. Since I was blessed to be a Political Science major in the heady days of the end of history - Marxism didn't even merit a nod. How refreshing, right? Anyway, the final paper challenged us to come up with our political philosophy and the rationale behind it.

    My philosophy was centered around the fact that people wouldn't just act in self-interest - they were capable of more benevolent action - sometimes they would even harm themselves to help others - and that therefore a government wasn't just a force binding people to the social contract. Government should be an arm of the people who could act not only beyond their self interest but also beyond their passions and make rational, pragmatic decisions. I talked about how soldiers would sacrifice for their platoons and how so often when people talk about how when terminally ill patients are stripped down to their essentially humanity what's left isn't some kind of cold calculus. What's left is love. Because people were essentially good, they didn't need a strong government to hold them back or philosopher kings to make the decisions they wouldn't. Basically, we could be trusted and therefore my political philosophy was grounded in limited government and participatory politics.

    I still believe in limited government, but as I've gotten older I've had to put the kibosh on participatory politics because, quite frankly, people are dumb.

    Anyway, in recent years I could draw on examples like the outpouring of generosity after the Boxing Day tsunami, 9/11 or Hurricane Katrina or any number of smaller heroic stories to point out that yes, people are essentially good.

    But, at the same time, how can that be if hundreds of thousands of Rwandans can literally hack their neighbors to death with machetes? How can that be in the wake of the Holocaust and genocides in Sudan and Bosnia that couldn't have happened without both the active participation and passive acceptance of millions? And how can that be when 3,000 people are murdered because they showed up at work and people around the world cheer and party?

    What's wrong with them? I know that the generally accepted explanations are that they hate us because a) we've stuck our noses in their business for too long and support Israel and it's kind of our own fault or b) they hate us because most of us aren't Muslims and therefore we suck. But is that an excuse to dance in the streets? I mean, I hate Brett Favre, but I wouldn't throw a party if something horrible happened to him. Really.

    I still think maybe that yes, people are generally good, but they're also generally weak and easily led. Most of us are herd animals, not lone wolves (except for guys wearing this, obviously). We want to belong. It's why we laugh louder & longer at a movie in a theater than we do if we're watching it at home. It's why the Slow Clap happens. It's why the Three Wolves T-Shirt I linked to above is now one of Amazon's most popular items. Movements can start with a single person. Sometimes it's whoever started Rickrolling and sometimes it's a reactionary Iman.

    Now don't get me wrong, I don't think we're sheep. We don't need a shepherd. We're more like a herd of mustangs that could, potentially, be rounded up and broken. Or, alternatively, we could live out our lives happily on the range. I think the problem right now in the Muslim world, generally speaking, is that they don't have limited government - they've never been mustangs. In an authoritarian state it only takes a few wackos to start a movement that can trickle down by force and that need to belong. When in Rome...

    So, I don't think it's entirely accurate anymore to talk about how awesome and peaceful the world's Muslims are. You can't change the facts by complaining about them. I guess I'm just sick of the silent majority of Muslims being so, uh, silent.


    Posted by at November 11, 2009 11:08 PM

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    Comments

    #  November 12th, 2009 5:08 PM      themandownthehall
    Well said Kris. To me silence is consent and approval. I think it was Boortz that had the stat that said that all but 3 of the wars currently raging on the planet were started by muslims. Real peaceful  
     

     

     


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