The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):

  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”

Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Let us not confuse religion with fanaticism

I defend, and in fact share, Mitt Romney's outrage that the Cairo Embassy's first remarks, after the recent desecration of our embassy and murder of an American diplomat, were an apology for offending Muslims:

The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims — as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.

Some people claim this is not an apology; I cannot read it as anything else.

But there are some other statements that I read on the Web that, I believe, take too harshly an anti-Muslim tone, for example Rick Bayan's remarks:

Most of us would be justifiably angered to see Jesus or Moses portrayed in such a light. But here’s the point: we wouldn’t shed the blood of innocents because of an objectionable movie. It would be nearly impossible to imagine Presbyterians, Methodists or Reform Jews setting mosques ablaze after watching a stupid 14-minute video. That’s the difference between Islam and the two older Abrahamic religions.

To his credit, the next paragraph refers to “[t]he more fanatical followers of Islam,” but Bayan seems to equate Islam in general with fanatical acts like those that have recently taken place in the Middle East.

But I see fanaticism at the root of many acts by followers of different religions: the murder of doctors for performing abortions as a Christian example; Yitzhak Rabin was killed by an adherent of his own (and my) Jewish religion; and Hindus have burned down mosques in India.

No religion has adherents that are uniformly peaceful adherents of “live and let live” — there are fanatics in all religions, absolutely convinced that not only is their religion the only true one, but that any perceived deviation from what their religion tells them is a grave sin, punishable by death.

I do not condemn Islam for the acts that have just taken place — I condemn the fanatical Muslim extremists who carried them out.

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