Friday, January 28, 2005

Today it's religion (and other things)

Let’s switch from my government complaints over to religion today.
I just finished reading an article in the New Yorker magazine (yes, back to having time to read that by not reading the propaganda.. sorry, newspaper) about problems in Amsterdam. A movie producer was recently murdered there, and it has revealed a lot about internal problems. One of the quotes about Holland has been ‘when the world comes to an end one should go to Holland, for everything there happens fifty years later’, meaning that things take a little while to become established or even recognized.
The government has been very supportive of immigrants, and there have been several waves from various countries or minority groups around the world. Most groups integrate into society, but one most recently seems to be having problems in fitting in. Tying in with American events, that group is composed of the followers of Islam. While other groups become more similar to the Dutch, or can be ignored, this group does not want to integrate, and is becoming harder to overlook.
The movie producer mentioned recently produced an eleven minute work written by a woman born in Somalia and raised a Moslem, she suffered from some practices that are standard there, and eventually escaped to the Netherlands. She ends up with an extreme hatred of her religion, writing very negative stories and plays, and is a firm supporter of women’s rights. The movie they created ended up being a fairly negative portrayal of the followers of Islam. The producer said he liked creating negative movies as it forced things out into the open and produced discussion, rather than the Dutch attitude of ignoring things as if they were not happening.
The discussion he produced was from a Islamic fundamentalist who shot him repeatedly then cut his throat. The writer is in hiding, unavailable even to her friends, and a number of politicians and other writers are under armed protection. Not from the producer’s attacker, he was quickly arrested, but from others that cannot permit anyone to attack their religion, either physically or verbally.
There are similar thoughts flying around the Las Vegas papers. Someone wrote that we should not ignore the Moslem attitude of hate and jihad, responses of ‘we are supposed to be tolerant of other’s beliefs’, responses to that of ‘how can you ignore a basic desire and teaching of quite a few religious leaders that America is the enemy leading to more 9/11 events’, and back and forth.
I cannot limit this to the one religion of the moment. The Catholics had their inquisitions and crusades, early America had witches burned at the stake, Hitler led a European extermination of minorities, Bush feels we have to bring our version of democracy to a backward world, Tutses kill Hutus, . . . . No need to go on with more examples.
Is it just a basic instinct for us to hate others that are not like us, and feel that we cannot permit them to exist like that, they must be eliminated or converted? Whether it’s someone with a Bible or other book coming to my door, or an army forcing people to a concentration camp, or an army forcing people to an election booth, or a crowd with machetes chopping off hands and heads, or just one individual with a belt full of explosives, why?
I have a hard enough problem in understanding why my little dog feels it necessary to attack somebody that isn’t part of his pack, much less how supposedly intelligent human beings have to change or kill other human beings. Is it impossible for people to learn, or am I wrong in being so open? Why can’t I force them to be like me?
Or do I just think too much?

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