Monday, January 11, 2010

The amount of influence non-extremists have over extremists can be summed up with three words:

There is none. The whole column is good, but this bit in particular should be read:
Here's the sad truth: Mainstream Muslims have zero influence over extremists. In fact, if one of those guys had a single bullet in his gun and you and I were up against the wall, he would shoot me first. He hates me more because not only do I not follow his perverse vision of Islam, I also represent an alternative interpretation. He insists Islam requires domination; I suggest Islam inspires cooperation.
Actually I could say something similar in commenting about white Christians. I denounce the various and sundry terrorist attacks committed by white Christian extremists (e.g., blowing up government buildings and family planning clinics, assassinating physicians who perform abortions, killing people at a Holocaust museum, etc.), but there is no way in hell that such activity will persuade the extremists to renounce their course of action. In fact, someone like me is more of a threat to the white Christian extremist for largely the same reasons that the writer above describes regarding Islam: I'm not following some perverse extremist vision of Christianity or white supremacy, and I represent an alternative interpretation that in an extremist's eyes constitutes an existential threat. Like the above writer, cooperation rather than domination is more my thing.

Of course at this point it is worth mentioning that unlike the above writer, if a white Christian hauls off and goes on a politically motivated killing spree, there will be practically no insistence by corporate media pundits that white Christians denounce the extremist's actions. On the other hand, a Muslim extremist does something like that, and the pundits have their proverbial knickers in a twist, demanding that their fellow Muslims "do more" or to "try harder." Not only that, but whatever attempts to denounce said terrorist attack or attempted attack will be dismissed as "not good enough." There is, on other words, a clear double-standard at work here.

Thing is, there is precious little one can do to reason with others who are fanatically devoted to a cause. It's not even worth the bother. What is worth the bother is to use that same energy to reach out to those who have not yet been swept up into religious, political, and/or ethnic extremism and give them sufficient information to inoculate themselves against extremist nonsense.

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