Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Religious violence sounds like extreme political violence: it aims at revolution, expropriation, not just faith on its own


CNN has the expected detailed story on the claim of responsibility for the Hebdo attacks in France by AQAP, here. It also has a detailed examination of the public perception of the connection between Islam and violence here, “7 Questions”, by Daniel Burke, here
  
It’s important that the Koran does not itself mention blasphemy, whereas the Bible does. (Islamic hadiths appear to condemn it.)  It’s also important that the idea that there is some call to violence in the Koran is, according to this article, a self-serving stretch of words.  Perhaps it’s comparable to supposed condemnation of homosexuality in the Bible. The New York Times on Wednesday offered this analysis by Mustafa Akyol, p. A23, "Islam's Problem with Blasphemy", link
  
And 5 million copies of the latest Charlie Hebdo paper have been printed, but so far it seems to be print only, BBC story link here
  
In the meantime, French police have arrested about 50 people for “apology for terrorism”.  Foreign language students know that cognates among languages are often not literal, but expressing support for it, even in a single tweet, is a crime in France and some European countries.  In the US, it requires making a threat or actually providing tangible support to be a crime.
  
What does all of this add up to?  It seems that to threaten a journalist for reporting news, including the existence of an offensive image, is an admission that the news needs to be disseminated and heard.  (Look at the situation with North Korea.)  But this is more about having “something to hide”.
  
This sounds like trying to stir up a “revolutionary idea”, possibly leading toward conquest of others (“apostates”) by force in some cases. The Nazis did the same thing out of a secular ideology.
  
It is common for poor or less affluent people in any religion to believe that their faith is all they have.  So desecration of their “god” destroys their identity (even to the point that an extremist can exploit the idea of “avenging” the god).  From a psychological perspective, one could believe in a false god or “idol”, and then feel destroyed when that idol is desecrated, shown to have “clay feet”.  This is the problem with “upward affiliation”: when it works it really works, until one is stopped by force.  The sensational atonal dance music by Arnold Schoenberg in the “Golden Calf” passage of his opera “Moses and Aaron” reinforces this point.  I remember, in Sunday School lessons as a boy, that having “idols” was such a big deal that I once wrote down “I have idols” in a music association exercise in third grade.   All of these “strings” come together.  
    
But, Jesus and Mohammad are not idols.  But a lot of us sometimes behave as if somehow they were. There may be only one God in our universe, but “free will” is available to every one of us.  

Update:

Rather silly and incredible plot against the US Capitol busted as a man in Ohio is arrested in a Twitter sting, WJLA story here.

Update:  Jan. 16

The New York Times has a front page story by Doreen Carnaval and Alan Cowell, "French rein in speech backing acts of terror: debate over fairness; Recent law allows for rapid trials and stiff prison sentences" here.  Even shouting verbal support of attackers can lead to prosecution;  this is not just about Internet speech. The NTY points out that this sounds like a paradox.  

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