Friday, 20 February 2015

I am Master of this College, What I don't know isn't knowledge

'"No religion is responsible for terrorism — people are responsible for violence and terrorism," Obama told delegates at the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism.'

One of the enviable privileges that religion still enjoys is the default assumption by public figures that all religion is good religion. Although those behind Islamic State (there's a clue in the name), are deadly serious about Sharia, praying five times a day, destroying antiquities that might be considered idolatrous, or which might hint at the religious diversity that used to exist within the borders of their self-declared Caliphate and cite the authority of the Quran or hadiths to justify their every action, we're supposed to believe that they're not really religious at all.

It's a neat rhetorical trick - all religion must be good, because any examples of bad religion are immediately re-defined as not-religion or not "true" religion. I suspect that if politicians were able to successfully pull off this trick for their own profession, their standing would be a lot higher. Politics would become a high and noble calling, because broken election promises, being economical with the truth, smears, demagogues appealing to prejudice and hate, corruption, gerrymandering, misleading spin, careerism and all the other things people love to hate about politics would simply be redefined as not-politics.

Amazingly, President Obama manages to pack even more wrongness into this short passage with the idea that individual people are the problem, rather than the ideology they follow, which is dangerously close to the mindset of the people he's trying to counter, who hold that religion itself is perfect and unquestionable and reserve their head-chopping "justice" for the weak, flawed, sinful people who fail to live up to its unimprovable dictates.