I had planned today as part one of a long running series about our friends in the GOP and their shirking of constitutional responsibility, but events of the last week have steered me in a different direction, as they are wont to do.
Militant "Islamists" have murdered an American citizen this week, in the name of whatever twisted vision it is that they follow. It's got me thinking....how did they get there? You all know my story, but I remain closeted at the moment; it's just not safe out there. But I don't even go to a mosque...perhaps that's where my disconnect is, since I don't really talk to anyone else who follows Mohammed at this time.
But let's try to piece some of this together. Merriem-Webster defines radicalism rather dryly, and in fact it doesn't really sound that bad:
rad·i·cal·ism noun \ˈra-di-kə-ˌli-zəm\
: the opinions and behavior of people who favor extreme changes especially in government : radical political ideas and behavior
Whether or not you agree with whatever changes are in the offing, reading this definition puts it back on the timeline; because I want changes NOW, that apparently makes me a radical. But there is something a little more insidious, and it warrants its own entry at the Wikipedia, Political Radicalism
The term political radicalism (or simply, in political science, radicalism) denotes political principles focused on altering social structures through revolutionary means and changing value systems in fundamental ways. Derived from the Latin radix (root), the denotation of radical has changed since its eighteenth-century coinage to comprehend the entire political spectrum—yet retains the “change at the root” connotation fundamental to revolutionary societal change. Historically, radicalism has referred exclusively to the "radical left", under the single category of far-left politics, rarely incorporating far-right politics though these may have revolutionary elements; the prominent exception is in the United States where some consider radicalism to include both political extremes of the radical left and the "radical right". In traditional labels of the spectrum of political thought, the opposite of radical on the "right" of the political spectrum is termed reactionary.
But this is all still the political arena. We see that every day here inside the beltway. The factions are so far apart in their radicalism that neither side even wants to think about something as bipartisan as compromise; like the terms "liberal" and "conservative", "compromise" has become an expletive, and we all suffer for it.
So finally, we reach my target today...which is radical religion. We've seen it here in these United States, from Billy Sunday, to the Temperance Movement...John Birch, The Moral Majority, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and perhaps culminating in Fred Phelps and his "church". All of these things have called for radical changes in the United States based on religion. Something expressly forbidden in the First Amendment, but tried and legislated at times nonetheless.
Since it is indeed all about Islam, let's take a brief look at what is defined as "Islamism
"the belief that Islam should guide social and political as well as personal life",
"the [Islamic] ideology that guides society as a whole and that [teaches] law must be in conformity with the Islamic sharia",
an unsustainably flexible movement of ... everything to everyone: an alternative social provider to the poor masses; an angry platform for the disillusioned young; a loud trumpet-call announcing `a return to the pure religion` to those seeking an identity; a "progressive, moderate religious platform` for the affluent and liberal; ... and at the extremes, a violent vehicle for rejectionists and radicals.
an Islamic "movement that seeks cultural differentiation from the West and reconnection with the pre-colonial symbolic universe",
"the organised political trend, owing its modern origin to the founding of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in 1928, that seeks to solve modern political problems by reference to Muslim texts",
"the whole body of thought which seeks to invest society with Islam which may be integrationist, but may also be traditionalist, reform-minded or even revolutionary",
"the active assertion and promotion of beliefs, prescriptions, laws or policies that are held to be Islamic in character,"
a movement of "Muslims who draw upon the belief, symbols, and language of Islam to inspire, shape, and animate political activity;" which may contain moderate, tolerant, peaceful activists, and/or those who "preach intolerance and espouse violence."
a term "used by outsiders to denote a strand of activity which they think justifies their misconception of Islam as something rigid and immobile, a mere tribal affiliation."
I don't know if that scares people or not; some elements of it don't sound
as bad as the western media would have us believe, but in the end its the methods for these tactics that are causing all the problems.
What is it that attracts young men to these principles with violence? I can read these things and shrug; I'm not inspired by them to oppress women, or destroy cultural artifacts, or indeed attack other civilizations in the name of "Islamism".
But I may have just answered my own question. I live in the United States. We're not in a war zone; I have a job, I have medical care, I have food and shelter. Perhaps it is true. Comfort breeds complacency. In a war zone, or where there is no hope, the despairing and the downtrodden may just be willing to embrace anything that even gives them some semblance of hope, whether or not faith in that hope is justified.
It's the kind of subject that I'd love to read more about, but given the toxic atmosphere in the US these days, any research I did online would probably prompt a knock on my door in the middle of the night...so what does that say about us, actually?