In recent days, North America has again faced the terror of mass violence (Boston), and the threat of mass violence (Southern Ontario). The response of law enforcement in the United States following the Boston Marathon bombing was commendable and effective. Unfortunately, the need to lockdown the city of Boston for nearly 24 hours is a horrible consequence of security that almost means the terrorists have at least partly, and very temporarily, stopped the freedom that exists in western nations.
Many commentators and politicians have commented. Justin Trudeau came at it from the viewpoint of a liberal apologist who believes in cultural relativism – asking us to consider the reasons why the terrorists acted before convicting them in the court of public opinion. I, of course, think this is a foolish statement because the problem is not what our society has done to these people but how these people have been indoctrinated.
The cultural relativist viewpoint is utopian. It assumes that all cultures and societies have the same underlying moral views, particularly on human rights and the value of human life, and that they can objectively and fairly evaluate situations. However, this is demonstrably untrue. And it is particularly untrue when a subset of a society has had their religion hijacked by leaders who, for political reasons, are inciting their followers to violence.
One of the problems of statements like those of Mr. Trudeau is that they set up a strawman for other politicians, like Prime Minister Harper. The PM can sidestep the bigger problem of religious incitement by simply attacking Mr. Trudeau’s ridiculous statement. He gets to avoid approaching the more serious underlying problem.
Tonight on his radio show, Rob Breakenridge, played a clip from Bill Maher‘s HBO show from Friday 19 April. On it Maher rightly points out that the only religion in the world today that breeds terrorism is Islam. Only one faith threatens violence when satirized. As Maher compared – it is difficult to get tickets to the Book of Mormon show on Broadway – no one could make a “Book of Islam” comedy in a similar vein due to the threaten of violence. Yes, other faiths have acted similarly in the past, but as Maher stated, we aren’t in the past. It’s the 21st century and all of our faiths need to start behaving as if they can peacefully coexist in the modern world.
What we need our leaders, law enforcement, media commentators and investigative reports to be doing is exposing the fundamentalist teachings in the mosques and madrassas right here Canada and the United States. We should be moving to block the websites of organizations that spread terror. These people are indoctrinating disaffected youth in North America and inciting them to violence, either here (e.g. Boston) or overseas (e.g. Somalia, Algeria, Mauritania, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, etc.)
This indoctrination is far more damaging and dangerous to our society and well-being than any prior “fifth-column” problems that our societies have faced. While the German-American Bund and Comintern worked inside our borders during the before and during the wars of the 20th Century, none had the ability to turn people into suicide bombers. We should not overreact and intern entire ethnic or religious groups as we unfortunately did to the Japanese residents during WWII.
But we must investigate what is being taught by imams and other religious teachers and leaders. This includes pushing the leaders of the Islamic faith in North America that such teachers will not be tolerated. I don’t care if it is at a large mosque or a small “religious school” that runs in a nice woman’s living room where people send their children to learn Arabic and the tenets of the faith. If the teachings run counter to the fundamental freedoms of western society, or incite violence we must act against them.
As I have stated before – the western world was made better through the process of the Enlightenment when reason overcame superstition. This happened hundreds of years ago in the West, often inspired by Islamic thinkers such as Ibn Sina and Ibn Rushd. We need to help Islam experience it’s own Enlightenment.