“They create a moral equivalence that simply does not exist”

Found a series of articles and interviews by a gentleman named Richard Benkin (he seems to be a little bit controversial, but that’s not very relevant here) . In an article titled “An India-Israel-United States Alliance: The Last Great Hope for Humanity”, he writes-

Our enemies are ruthless and will gladly sacrifice the lives of their own children, let alone ours, to achieve those goals. Fuzzy thinking about this can destroy us, and unfortunately there is plenty of it to go around in our countries. No matter what set of elites tries to convince us otherwise, must remain focused on results; on what we have to do to defeat them. In my own country, there are people who find that distasteful; who believe it is bigoted to say that our own culture and belief system is better than someone else’s. If they think we are no better than the murderers of September 11, the suicide bombers in Israel, those who blew up people in New Delhi, or the perpetrators of ethnic cleansing against the Bangladeshi Hindus; if they think their set of beliefs is as good as ours, then they surely have lost their moral compass].

By the way, this enemy has a name, and we need to use it: radical Islam. Not terrorism, which is only a tactic; or unspecified radicals, militants, or whatever politically correct word is in fashion but Islamist radicals. For the words we use are important. If we are engaged in a war on “terror,” then all we are doing is reacting to a tactic after it happens. It means we are not engaged in a comprehensive effort to defeat the terrorists and those who send them. If our enemies are merely “the extremists,” we have decided to abandon the search for any ideology or force that unites those extremists and motivates them. We cannot do that; it dilutes our struggle, weakens us, and strengthens our enemies. This is the same reason why I always refer to Bangladesh’s racist Vested Property Act, the law that empowers that government to seize Hindu-owned lands and distribute them to Muslims. My God, it is an integral part of their jihad to rid East Bengal of its Hindus. That is racism, and we need to call it racism. If we do not, if we are soft about it ourselves, how can we expect others to see how atrocious it is?

We also have to recognize that not all Muslims are the enemy; some are our friends, more so than we might think. And if we do not distinguish among them, we will treat friends and enemies the alike. We will send a message that religion not behavior is our real concern, which would make us no better than our enemies. But that aside, our deadliest foes are united in their adherence to their interpretation of Islam; not Hinduism, Judaism, or any other religion, but Islam. When appeasing elites or those who try to give our enemies a kind face, object that, ‘well there are radical Hindus or Jews or Christians,’ they create a moral equivalency that simply does not exist. When was the last time Hindus flew a plane into a crowded building in Bangladesh? Or the last time a Jew blew himself up outside a crowded mosque? Whether or not it represents Islam’s best or Islam’s worst, our enemy is radical Islam, and we need to say that.

He’s right there, except for the “some are our friends” part. No, I am not whipping up Islamophobia, but referring to the so-called moderates. In any religion, or ideology – Hinduism, Islam, Capitalism, Communism – there are the fundamentalists – those who believe in it completely (I am a fundamentalist as far as capitalism goes), and there are the moderates – those who believe in “some” part of it (or don’t follow it completely). The problem with moderates is that while they don’t physically do anything – they are pretty harmless that way; India is full of moderate Hindus and Muslims: the silent majority – the fundamentalists are always able to hide behind them in times of crisis; that is their biggest contribution. Just like the ISI and LeT (“non-state actors”) hiding behind the impotent Pakistan government (Zardari has the ‘power’ to give India a “befitting reply”; but he cannot do anything about the terrorists who murdered his wife).

The moderates are the ones who let fundamentalists take over – who allow censorship of cartoons, of books, of paintings. So while they don’t go and blow people up or rape or set people on fire, they do come in the way of concrete action. As Benkin says, they prevent us from “naming the enemy”. About not referring to terrorists by their religion – ideology, what the ‘liberal’ media and other ‘liberals’ do is indulge in semantic warfare. The statement “All Muslims are not terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims” is blatantly false. But that does not mean that we don’t label outfits according to their ideology – the Naxalites are called Maoists because their ideology derives from Mao; the ULFA are called separatists because their terror is based on nationhood for Assam; Sikh terrorism – the one related to Khalistan – is called that because their ideology revolved around a separate homeland for Sikhs. So, if a terror group fights under the banner of Islam, regardless of how many Muslims actually support them, not calling them Islamic or at least Islamist is dishonest and an act of deluding oneself. And if someone calls the ULFA or Maoists “Hindu terrorists” – to make a point – they basically have their head up their arse, or as the BJP would say, they are being pseudo secular, or as Benkin says, they are creating a moral equivalence that is non-existent. Before labeling someone – look at the ideology, then look at the scale.

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  • Jim Lunsford  On December 28, 2008 at 2:28 am

    And if the conspiracy theorists are right, and our government does nothing to refute their claims (such as hold independent investigations and provide some form transparency in government)and Bush actually did endorse it as a black flag operation, would that make christianity a face of terrorism? This war on terror is nothing more than a revival of the Crusades. All for monetary gains over the lives of the fools who believe in the propaganda machine. Get real.
    No religion, per se, is terroristic, but it appears to me that Christianity has been hi-jacked by those who would want the end times to come about. Christ was about love and salvation. His message is clearly different than the rest of the Bible. Yet, Fundamentalists always grab onto the war-mongering side of the religion. They are what is known as anti-christians. Peace, Jim

  • Aristotle The Geek  On December 28, 2008 at 2:50 am

    “And if the conspiracy theorists are right…”
    I don’t know of a Christian conspiracy to take over the world, or a Hindu conspiracy. But I do know of a beast known as political Islam that dreams about the revival of the Caliphate. I am no supporter of the “war on terror” – civil liberties in the US, and therefore worldwide, has been one of its biggest casualties. But do you really expect people to watch on as bomber after bomber comes and blows himself up killing scores in the process? If Bush did engineer the so-called ‘black flag’ operation – I assume you are talking about 9/11 – then that won’t make it ‘Christian terror’ but corporatist terror – an attack the aim of which is making money. Christian terror will happen when Christians start blowing themselves up in the Muslim world with alarming regularity, or shooting people in the streets, to take revenge for perceived ‘injustices’.

    “No religion, per se, is terroristic”
    Religions are not ‘terroristic’, but all of them are intolerant – the degree of intolerance varies. And its just one small step from intolerance to terrorism. I am a strong atheist, and I don’t believe that religion has by itself done any good. Whatever Christ preached, his followers are not exactly following the principle of ‘love’. The more religious a society, the worse it is for individual liberty. And yes, communism is a religion too.

  • Jim Lunsford  On December 28, 2008 at 4:39 am

    I would agree that all religions are intolerant to a degree, but that is because they reflect their audience/subjects. They are rudimentary political machines and so have to conform to certain rules of protocol. But, since you call communism a religion, wouldn’t that also make your capitalism a religion as well? And naturally, Atheism is a religion as well. Myself, I don’t like religions even though I do believe there is a God. I’m just pretty sure we don’t have a clue what this God really is. I just do the best I can, and don’t really worry about after-lifes, which seem to be a hall-mark of religious control. Instead, I attempt to live a life more in keeping with doing my part to make this a better world. But I digress.
    If a religion is intolerant, it is because it’s followers insist on intolerance. Our progression towards tolerance marks a progression of our societies, not our religions. In other words, the majority of the people make any religion fit their own level of ignorance. Personally, I believe our entire species is pretty ignorant, but that’s an entirely different topic! lol To say that there has been no good out of religion is to also say there has been no good out of humanity. For all these religions do is reflect our state of being. They do not dictate it. Unless of course the religious heads are in a position to do so. Just as governments do. Just as all people who thirst for power do. I am running the risk of writing a novel here, but I just wanted to end this with an appreciation of your argument. Thanks and peace, Jim

  • you12  On December 28, 2008 at 9:18 am

    I am with Aristotle. Religion is a glaring failure. To say that religion is good but its followers are bad is itself an admission of failure since religion is suppose to elevate us from our “Human Weaknesses.”

    Its the equivalent of saying that the medicine is good but the patient’s body is just not responding!

    Regarding intolerance, all collectivist concepts are intolerant. religion, Nationhood,race…

  • yet_another_hindu_infidel  On December 28, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    The statement “All Muslims are not terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims” is blatantly false.
    why? because it sounds harsh? no prob, a little rephrasing will fix that.

    All Terrorists are Muslims but all Muslims are NOT terrorists.

    does that sound ok?

    Religions are not ‘terroristic’, but all of them are intolerant – the degree of intolerance varies.
    tolerance and intolerance are a wrong way to judge religions. it’s rather oppresion and the instinctive reaction that follows.

    are hindu’s and buddhists supposed we remain tolerant when muslims blow bombs in their neighborhoods?
    both religions clearly state the punishment to killing as hell. so why do they choose the intolerant path?
    the answer is human instinct. you slap a person on this left cheek and he’ll slap you back.
    that’s “human instincts” over-riding “religious teachings”.

    but that couldn’t be said about islam. intolerance towards non-muslims is it’s core basic. the american secularists will hardly understand why the dharmic stock hates islam. america and middle-east are too far from each other while india is right in middle of the islamic world. we get bombed every week. we know our enemy. secularism aside, i can live under and religious society’s roof except islamic. my secularist protests under an islamic roof will result in myself getting killed. islam is a threat to secularism. i’ll gladly vote for a hindu/dharmic republic any day.

    ahem, so long live modi. long live VHP, RSS and shiv sena. the beauty of being a hindu is that i can yell “ram laxman ki maa ki chut” inside a train filed with hindus and nobody would care. it shows that there hindus and not some religious freaks. heck, my family members are atheists but everyone comes around for a laxmi pooja at diwali. why? it’s because we admire traditions.

    but like i keep saying… the more you read about islam, the more you write about islam.
    and the more you write about islam, the more you sound anti-islamic aka racist.

  • Jim Lunsford  On December 28, 2008 at 5:01 pm

    To make it clearer, religion IS the follower’s belief structures. And, since religion is really a form of government, it has to follow this basic precept of government. Enough people have to submit or believe in it’s authority in order to make it whatever it is. Ergo, it is not that it is no worse than it’s followers, it is that it IS the view of it’s followers. That is a huge difference. Perhaps the rest of my reply will make more sense with that clarification. And by the way, I have no religion either. I have no idea if this presence I feel is just myself, a Jungian mass consciousness, or even if it is just my response to having a brain that is hard-wired to seek the answer to questions like, “Why are we here?” I still hold that religions reflect humanity’s intolerance, not that religions per se are intolerant. Humanity is intolerant; at least to the degree espoused in my previous post.

  • Aristotle The Geek  On December 28, 2008 at 10:24 pm

    y.a.h.i.,
    “why? because it sounds harsh? no prob”
    Because it is wrong. And your rephrasing too. There is a difference between a Muslim (person) and Islam (the religion) – a person practices a religion. I just gave three different examples of terror groups whose agenda is not related to ‘bringing the world under Islamic rule’. Add the LTTE to it, and the IRA, and the Chechens, and ETA (Spain), and the Kurds (in Turkey), and FARC (Columbia). As Benkin says, ‘terror’ is a tactic. And different groups have different agendas. The Chechens may be Muslims, but they are fighting for autonomy from Russia; the Kurds are fighting for Kurdistan – against other Muslims. Understand this difference. That’s why I ended with “Before labeling someone – look at the ideology, then look at the scale.”

    “tolerance and intolerance are a wrong way to judge religions. it’s rather oppresion and the instinctive reaction that follows.”
    Intolerance ‘shows’ in different ways – banning music and dancing for example (the Taliban), the Saudi ‘vice’ police etc etc. Intolerance leads to oppression. And don’t tell me Hindus and Christians are ‘tolerant’ – they are not. As I said they only vary in degree.

    “that’s “human instincts” over-riding “religious teachings”.”
    Lets leave instincts to animals – they can’t do better. We have ‘brains’. When the pin pricks every one reacts, yes. The point is they shouldn’t, not unless the pin ‘really’ pricks, and even then the reaction has to be ‘under law’. If every time someone publishes or draws or says things you don’t like, and you bay for his blood, the world will burn till hell freezes over.

    i can live under and religious society’s roof except islamic.
    Probably. That’s because – as I said somewhere – most world religions have moved ahead – the separation of the church and the state is complete (its unraveling though, slowly) – not the case with ‘most’ of the Islamic world. But a theocracy – Islamic, Christian, Hindu – is still a theocracy. The ‘word of God’ is law. There will be no lasting peace.

    “but like i keep saying… the more you read about islam, the more you write about islam.
    and the more you write about islam, the more you sound anti-islamic aka racist.”

    The spade has to be called a spade. And as a result, if you have to live with the “racist” or “communal” epithet, so be it. Understand the ideology, that’s all I can say.

  • Aristotle The Geek  On December 28, 2008 at 10:43 pm

    Jim,
    “But, since you call communism a religion, wouldn’t that also make your capitalism a religion as well? And naturally, Atheism is a religion as well.”
    If all beliefs are religions, yes. But capitalism’s core idea is that individual rights have to guarded at all costs. And individual rights are the only ‘rights’. This is the ‘dogma’ under which I operate.
    Organized religion – or religions based on ‘God’ – operate under a moral code supposedly derived from His rules. If He says jump – or the priests say that ‘He says jump’ – you jump. Religious ethics, and therefore its politics is deontological in nature – rule-based or duty-based.

    “If a religion is intolerant, it is because it’s followers insist on intolerance.”
    As I said, religion is based on a set of rules that ‘have’ to be obeyed if you want to call yourself religious. The rules are written in books – Bible, Koran, whatever – and are interpreted by the priestly class to serve their interests. So, if a religious book says – “if you don’t follow ‘my’ God, you will burn in hell”, or “kill all those infidels and God will make a place for you in heaven”, does it not make the religion intolerant rather than the followers? Some followers have the sense to not interpret the books as is, but others do not. While the fault for any direct action lies with the person who does it, religion cannot be absolved of its share of the blame.

    “Personally, I believe our entire species is pretty ignorant, but that’s an entirely different topic!”
    Most humans are stupid beyond belief, I grant you that.

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