Sunday, November 29, 2015

They Did It for God

Two weeks after Islamic religious fanatics unleashed their terror on the population of Paris, Americans are afraid that they might be the next target.  They want to prevent Muslims from taking refuge in the United States, for fear that there might be terrorists hidden among them.  In many cases, these Muslims have themselves been displaced from their own homelands by the religious extremists.  America has traditionally welcomed such people, in the spirit so eloquently expressed by Emma Lazarus.
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

Who would be so cold-hearted as to turn them away?  Of course, it's the right-wing Christian crowd, spurred on by their political leaders.  Ben Carson, the favorite of the evangelicals, insists "They don't want to come here.  They want to go home."  That makes perfect sense for him to say, perhaps because hundreds of thousands of desperate people struggling to escape their war-torn homes really do want to go back there, or perhaps because he is willing to say whatever appeals to his base of Christian voters.

To justify their position to the public, Republican politicians make this analogy: If you knew a sack of peanuts contained five poison ones, would you eat the peanuts?  It's a bad analogy because we don't know that there are terrorists among those who are to be settled in the USA.  We have a stringent vetting process to prevent that.  And it's true that the vetting might miss some terrorists, but it's also true that a sack of peanuts (or anything else we eat) could contain some bad ones.  But because the risk is small, we still eat the peanuts.  But even a slight risk is sufficient to keep these morally superior Christians form offering safety and refuge to thousands of non-Christians who need it so badly.

Nobody can guarantee that some terrorists will never get into our country.  Those who have so far managed to do so have entered the country by legal means.  But the fact is, we know that there are many more terrorists here already, born and raised in our country.  They are Christian extremists, and they vastly outnumber Islamic terrorists in this country.  One of them just struck in Colorado Springs on Friday, killing three people and wounding nine.  And there's nothing new or unique about this act of terrorism.  They are responsible for many lynchings, murders, bombings, and arson.  And we've been living with them for a long time. 

What do Islamic terrorists and Christian terrorists have in common?  They all believe they are doing God's work.  Their religious beliefs serve as justification for any heinous act they can conceive.  They believe that these acts are morally correct.  Some of the most despicable acts in the history of humankind have been justified by religious beliefs.  Because when God is on your side, anything goes.

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