Friday, July 14, 2006

Fundamentals of fundamentalism

I've been reading Londonistan: How Britain is creating a terror state from within by Melanie Phillips.

I'm maybe a quarter of a way through book, but something really struck me from the British commentary that springs up around one terrorist atrocity or another. Most commentators blame poverty, Palestine, ancient rifts, post-colonialism, globalism, America's new imperialism - anything, anything and everything but just sheer religious nuttery. It was as if they just couldn't or wouldn't see it.

The downside of this robustly downt-to-earth apprach is that the British now find it very hard to deal with religious fantacism. They no longer recognise it - or want to recognise it. Presented with patently ludicrous ideological ranting, they refuse to believe that anyone can take it seriously. So when [British based] Islamist clerics such as the hook-clawed Abu Hamza or Omar Bakri Mohammed were loudly trumpeting their hatred of the West and their calls to holy war against it, MI5 regarded them as little more than pantomime clowns, shooting their mouths off in the open where everyone could hear them and laugh them to scorn.

I grew up in Tennessee and the Vol-in-Law in Belfast, so we feel pretty safe in recognising religious nuttery when we see it. We grew in cultures that might kill or condemn, shout or persuade, rant, build bombs writhe on the floor or handle snakes all in the name of the spirit. And frankly, it's nuts. But the gentle folk in England just aren't really used to it - and they just refused to believe that people would do crazy things out of religious passion - how it can grip someone's soul just as hard as crack or smack - and make them do things a sane person oughtn't. (Indeed here's a fresh example straight outta Memphis)


Sam said...

This is a little off subject, but could you share your take on the CPS decision not to prosecute anyone for the Menezes shooting. I always value your perspective on British politics and...stuff.

Anonymous said...

The questions to ask are what is making these people turn to religion and who benefits from it?

Given religious nuttery, what can be done about it? You cannot repress the nuttery, you have to find out what is at the base of it and what you can do about it.

Remember, to be human is to be crazy. Each and every one of us is crazy in our own crazy way.


Vol-in-Law said...

"The questions to ask are what is making these people turn to religion and who benefits from it?"

What makes people turn to religion in Lawrenceburg or Belfast? I expect the answers are similar. Upbringing is often a factor. It's not so much the religious 'nuttery' that's the problem, it's the content of the beliefs.