Tuesday 23 November 2010
Me: I was thinking on what you said about fundamentalism the other day. Can it be said that fundamentalism is not exclusive to the-religion-that-must-not-be-named but that it is part of the problem?
Aati: No, I don't think it specifically is part of the problem of the fundamentalism. You and I, and Hirsi, all have a common limitation: when we think about religious fundamentalism, we tend to think about the religion we were most intimately exposed to. There is no instrinsic difference in 'quality' or nature between a Christian fundamentalist, Jewish fundamentalist, Hindu fundamentalist or Muslim fundamentalist. They all consider themselves soldiers of their respective gods.
Religion or any belief system that is rigid and refuses to be tempered or accomodate differences, is part of the problem and no attempts at solution can be made without addressing it. Historically where certain governments made atheism part of their national policy and needed to establish power and loyalty by destroying older centers of power, they aggressively attacked religion, imprisoned devotees, and snatched away the right to religious freedom. So there IS such a thing as a militant Atheist, and the weapons are the same as other fundamentalists. You don't see it often because the conditions favoring its appearance don't occur often. There are fundamentalist Jews in Israel, but they are a minority elsewhere, and minorities don't often antagonize. Christian fundamentalism is a phenomenon West was already used to and which it dealt with. This recent rise of fundamentalism is new to the West, otherwise, in our part of the world, things like honor killing, religious riots etc are nothing new.
Me: There is no intrinsic difference between fundamentalists of various religions, but the respective religion nevertheless plays a part in the expression of that fundamentalism. So, we have established that the fundamentalist attitude precedes the religion it uses as its means of expression. But if fundamentalism is using a religion, it is because that religion contains those elements (like every other religion) that make it vulnerable to be a weapon of fundamentalism, and if we are to fight fundamentalism, we would have to attack that religion as well.
Aati: Yes, I agree. But if we attack it simply for what it is, we'll lose sight of the actual problem. So it would have to be attacked on its intolerance, etc, to forcibly reduce that and favor more tolerant versions, like in Christianity. Hirsi thinks Christians are free to leave their faith, but not because of Christianity -- it's the environment that has silenced or curbed bible-thumping witch-burning extremists.
Me: I can't argue with that.