Notes from the editorial cutting room floor:
Where do we draw the line between religious fundamentalism
these days? I can’t think of a more dangerous and pertinent question for these times. On the one hand there’s some deluded extremists fighting for a hardcore misinterpretation of an idealised Islamic State (by way of a sectarian power putsch) and all the fundamentalist repression that implies (for women, free speech, etc); and on the other there’s a US Republican slash NeoCon movement deliberately blurring and diluting the separation of Church and State in defiance of that State’s constitution, which is also considering implementing a suite of repressions by dressing it up as Patriotism. Are you devoted enough to your country’s ideology? Both (half-baked and fragmented) ideas of state perceive themselves to be battling the other in a fight for cultural and political supremacy on the global scale. Or, at the very least, deftly manufacturing the impression that such is the case, that the other is a real and legitimate enemy. On a stage where half-facts and fear become political bedfellows. But as with any battle there are very real fallouts, and some wild, religious extremists at the periphery egging each other on.
I wonder what it feels like to be in a large population or group a culture, a religion or a state and to have a small number of hard liners or fanatics become the vocal minority, the public face of your group. Even though everyone might know they don’t speak for the group, or that they hardly speak coherently or accurately at all about that group’s core principles and beliefs but somehow they’ve become shamelessly adept at exploiting shared attitudes and beliefs for political power and thereby tarnishing the goodwill of the group, so even other groups start think you’re all
extremists. This is the politicising of religion and if you look back a little further in time, you’ll find that religion has been political though the ages. This is the problem faced by the majority of Muslims who are believers in peace and harmony, wherever they live, who face the consequences of revenge attacks. And yet, reading that back just now, that issue could also be read into the Neo Conservative movement in America’s executive branch.