November 29, 2015 by JImbo
It is said that “Religion is the Opium of the Masses.” While often attributed to Karl Marx, the concept is ancient in context if not exact wording. Every religious group turns to their faith in times of crisis, grief and pain. It is a natural, vital part of the role of faith in human society.
Religion, like drugs is neither inherently good nor bad. A small amount can heal you. A large amount can kill. The fault lies in not the medicine, but the application by the individual.
So why then is it considered wrong to talk of radical fundamentalism as a sickness or disease? Why if we criticize a religion or specific belief system, is it assumed that we are impugning a whole people? Can’t the same rational logic be applied to faith as is applied to medicine?
If a person drinks too much, we call them an alcoholic. The amount is subjective of course. What is “normal” or “acceptable” to one person is too much or too little to another.
The same is true of any action. Gambling, pornography, even binge eating can be addictions. The problem is not the action per se, but the relation of the person to it for harmful ends.
One person may have no problem with binge drinking alcohol, but draws the line at one cigarette. Likewise, marijuana is illegal in some places and encouraged in others while alcohol is shunned. What works for one person does not always work for another person or society.
Couldn’t we also apply this to religion? Isn’t “radical fundamentalist Islamist” just the same as a drug addict? Or, perhaps even more accurately a drug addict who has no tolerance for other “medicine?”
Islam by itself can be moderate, just like drinking can be moderate. It can be a good thing in a community if taken in small doses. The problem is that in some contexts the opposite is true.
Personally, I believe that we haven’t had as many issues directly with Islamic extremism not because Islam is innately different here. It is just practiced differently. The people are different.
Consider how alcohol is used by college kids and older people. Who tends to be binge drinkers? Who tends to have problems with addiction? Who has the lack of maturity and ability to make those life decisions?
The youth tend to get into problems, lacking perspective. They get drunk, get high and get into Socialism. In short, they don’t know what to avoid and go for whatever makes them feel good at the time.
The native populations of Western countries (to include older immigrants) don’t tend to fall for this Islamic extremism. They don’t tend to be binge drinking or getting high every day. They have jobs, families and a lifetime of experience to draw on.
Why are the attacks happening in Paris? There has been a rapid influx of young Muslims. Many don’t have jobs. Many don’t have family to stop them.
In short, they take to Islamic radicalism like any other college age kids do with alcohol, weed or Socialism. They get into self-selected groups of like -minded individuals and lose perspective.
Blaming Islam itself is like blaming weed, alcohol or oxycodone for a problem. It entirely avoids blaming the individual and a destructive subculture. Just as a drunk driver is blamed for the accident, so should the terrorists and their supporters be judged for their actions.
However, likewise NOT realizing it is based in Islamic culture is just as bad. You can’t have a DWI without drinking or doing drugs. Yes the person abused those drugs to get there, but those drugs were still a factor in the crash.
More broadly, we have to confront the permissive society in which these actions are deemed acceptable. It’s not just the individual. It’s not just the religion or booze. It’s also the society in which choices are made.
Attacks here tend to be “lone wolves” and loners. Attacks in Europe have tended to be larger groups and planned. That isn’t a coincidence. Consider the circumstances.
If you don’t have a group to drink with, or it is frowned upon you drink in private. You tend not to hurt anyone, or at least hide it well.
When out drinking in a group, young kids tend to get rowdy in public and aggressive. As the saying goes…trouble tends to come in three or more…after 2 am. The point is that the other youths in say a college environment without supervision tend to be enablers. They make it that much worse.
Europe has Muslim “ghettos” filled with angry, unemployed and unsupervised juveniles. They have no role models and enough angst to make hipsters jealous. We expect young people in that situation to get into trouble.
Make no mistake. I’m not excusing them. It’s not just about Islam. Just look at Chicago. Same situation and 2,700 shootings this year. 440 are dead and counting.
The difference is that gang bangers in Chicago have no worldwide church leaders condoning their actions. When a poor kid in Chicago is killed, it’s “just thugs killin thugs.” When a Muslim kid guns down a stadium of people there is a cheering section in many parts of the world.
Change on the streets of Chicago has to come from the churches and homes of Chicago. Change in the “martyr” culture of Islam has to come from within the homes and mosques of the communities themselves. The kids who killed 130 people in Paris didn’t just “happen” to run to the St. Denis part of Paris. It’s a known Muslim ghetto full of disgruntled, disaffected immigrants who feel the tribal attraction of Islam just like the Chicago kids feel more “family” connection to their gang than anything else.
Cancer is make different diseases with many different causes. However, all cancers share in common that they are a malignant growth or tumor on healthy tissue. It is often the same type of tissue even, just gone bad and growing out of control, pushing out the healthy and harming the body.
We need to start treating radical Islam like a cancer. To keep the whole body (religion) of Islam healthy it must be cut out. You can never “end” this radicalism.
Cancer has no “cure” either. It’s not some foreign entity like a virus or bacteria. It is growths of the body, created by the body. It is a deformity of the normal process of healthy growth.
Do we blame a person for having cancer? Well that all depends now doesn’t it? Sometimes it’s genetic. Sometimes it’s random.
Then again, sometimes they smoke 10 packs a day. Sometimes they drink a case of beer a night. Sometimes they are 200 pounds overweight.
Are there communities encouraging the growth of fundamentalism? Is a sick community more likely to become infected? Are we missing the warning signs of early detection?
*President Sisi of Egypt famously touched on this in a recent speech. He called on fellow Muslims to see Islam how it is seen by non-Muslims…
“…a source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction for the rest of the world. That thinking—I am not saying “religion” but “thinking”—that corpus (body) of texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the centuries, to the point that departing from them has become almost impossible, is antagonizing the entire world. “
He has a point. He’s no outsider either. President Sisi came to power after the Muslim Brotherhood took charge of Egypt during the “Arab Spring.” The kids took to the streets and wanted “Hope and Change.” They got the Muslim Brotherhood…. Radical Islam and strict Sharia Law.
Turns out after months of that they were ready to kick the Muslim Brotherhood to the curb and bring in a “moderate.” Hence President Sisi is not President with very high approval ratings and a very moderate, even secular style of government which is closer to the modern Egyptian style.
Having been through this revolution…twice… Egypt is poised to act as a teacher in how to evolve religion, not give into extremism and regress into tribalism. The Egyptian military is actively attacking terrorists in the Sinai and in Libya.
Why is this relevant?
Well, consider who is streaming into Europe. Young Muslim males. What usually happens when massive amounts of young, Muslim males with no jobs, no family ties and no societal restraints descends on a society?
If they had axes in their hands we’d call them Vikings.