For most, the term Zealot brings to mind Religious Extremism. The shabbily dressed sweating figure clasping a Bible and pounding on a podium, A Puritan all in Black burning witches or a Muslim Extremist cutting off a victims head to the Litany of "God is Great!".
Those are indeed examples and few of us have not heard someone pronounce pontifically that ALL the Death, Destruction, Mayhem and Discord through Centuries can be more laid at the feet of Religion than any other cause.
Those who are satisfied with surface impressions and shoddy logic, will be nodding in agreement at this point.
Of course to make the above case one must ignore all the GOOD that has been the result of Religious Practices. It is true that Religion has been used in the manner I described above. It cannot be otherwise.
Religion IS one of the most powerful motivating forces on the Face of the Earth. Power cannot be a source for Evil without being a source for Good in the same order of Magnitude.
This little fact is blithely ignored by those who rail against Religious Zealotry.
They also ignore the fact that Religion is not THE most powerful motivation force in human history.
Sex is. Sex in fact is probably responsible for MORE Death, Destruction, Mayhem and Discord than any other motivator in all the Ages.
I however am unwilling to give it up, to create a More
Perfect World. I find some positive aspects in it despite the intense suffering it has caused me in the past, as have we all, I would wager to say.
All of the above would be moot if the Zealots of both extremes were willing to disavow what they deem the Ultimate Evil themselves, and leave the rest of us to make our own decisions.
BUT the main characteristic of the Zealot, despite ANY surface differences caused by the direction of their fanaticism is---
The total rejection that individual choice is the right of every human being. Individual choice is an anathema to them.
There is no difference between a Christan, Muslim or Socialist Progressive Zealot, except for the Chance of Birth, which landed them in their particular group. They think, in the same manner they act in the same manner.
No clearer example could be given than that of the philosophical journey traveled by a man named Bruce Bawer, an openly gay American ( from David's Medienkritik)
"A few years back, after a prolonged immersion in American Protestant fundamentalism (I was writing a book), I moved from the U.S. to Western Europe, ready to bask in an open, secular, liberal culture. Instead I discovered that European social democracy, too, was a kind of fundamentalism, rigid and doctrinaire, yielding what Swedish writer Johan Norberg calls "one-idea states"?nations where an echo chamber of insular elites calls the shots, where monochrome media daily reiterate statist mantras and shut out contrarian views, and where teachers and professors systematically misrepresent the U.S. (millions of Europeans believe that free public schools, unemployment insurance, and pensions are unknown in America). The more I saw of the European elites' chronic distrust of the public, and the public's habitual deference to those elites, the fonder I grew of the nasty, ridiculous rough-and-tumble of American democracy, in which every voice is heard?even if, as a result, the U.S. gets capital punishment and Europe gets gay marriage.
How did Western Europe come to be ruled by monolithic ideologues?"
I encourage to read further the works of this man, he is by no means a member of the Religious Right Fascist Movement. ;-)
I have a good friend who worriea about what the Religious Right might be up to. I do not recall if he has as some described them as the American Taliban, but it is a source of concern for him.
Compared to the other sources of repression, of freedom of thought, belief and expression, I find the case totally exaggerated. Americans are to a great extent immersed in egalitarian ideals. That cannot be said of elsewhere in this world
President Bush has been mocked over and over again when he stated that our enemies hate us because we are Free.
The TRUTH is that there are other Talibans far more dangerous to the concept of Libery, Freedom and Individual Choice and they make no bones about publicly stating their desires.
There can be nothing plainer than the words of Abu Musab al-Zarqaw
"We have declared a bitter war against democracy and all those who seek to enact it----"Democracy is also based on the right to choose your religion," he said, and that is "against the rule of God"
Those sentiments are amply echoed by Transnational Progressives.
One example, the British columnist Will Hutton,
" The essence of Hutton?s argument is that ?all Western democracies subscribe to a broad family of ideas that are liberal or leftist? (note the sly conflation here of ?liberal? and ?leftist,? which in Europe, of course, are opposites), and that first among these ideas is ?a belief in the primacy of society? as opposed to the insidious ?American belief in the primacy of the individual.? Hutton traces the prioritization of society over the individual back to medieval feudalism, which he holds up?hilariously?as an ideal. The trouble, he explains, started when Puritan individualists ?who passionately believed that they could individually establish a direct relationship with God? emigrated to North America and invented ?an explosively new and radical ideology? that justified ?an individualist rather than a social view of property.? This led to the American Revolution, which Hutton compares unfavorably with its French counterpart of 1789, since the former put the individual first (bad) while the latter introduced a ?new social contract? (good).
Indeed on of the problems Mr Hutton sees with America is the very concept of Freedom of Expression and the Press.
?European governments and the EU,? because they?re ?aggressive in their regulation of broadcasting content? and ban, for example, ?racist expression.? He favors, in short, allowing government bureaucrats to decide what is and isn?t racist (or, for that matter, sexist or homophobic) and to punish transgressors.
"While American broadcasters,? he notes, ?plead the First Amendment?s commitment to absolute free speech, making public interest regulation almost impossible??the knaves!??Europe acts to ensure that television and radio conform to public interest criteria.? Public interest criteria:
As it turns out the best cure for European propaganda is for them to actually visit the US.
As a polar opposite to Mr Bawer
"Jean-Francois Revel?s L?obsession anti-americaine, which has now appeared in the U.S. as Anti-Americanism.16 Revel?s earliest opinions of America, he tells us, were formed by ?the European press, which means that my judgment was unfavorable?; yet those opinions changed when he actually visited America during the Vietnam War. Decades later, he notes wryly, the European media still employ the same misrepresentations as they did back then==
Western Civilization IS under attack in the 21st Century by Zealots. To call them terrorists is simplistic, terrorism is but one tactic.
The world is divided into two camps as Robert Heinlein once stated
Political tags - such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth - are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surely curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort
I have stated this time and time again, and it bears repeaing, the only difference between the Muslim Taliban and the Transnational Progressive Taliban,is over WHO gets to Control Society, their goals and aims and idealized structure of Society is the same.
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Updated: Tuesday, 17 January 2006 3:49 AM CST