18 January, 2014

Editorial: Forget "extremism"; Just use the term "hypocrisy" instead

Extremism. Terrorism. People cringe at the mention of these words. They bring with them feelings of anger and hatred, plots to bomb buildings and special events just for the fun of killing innocent civilians, and most importantly seem to pit members of one faith against another in modern-day crusades.

This couldn't be more true for fundamentalist sects of the three Semitic faiths — Christianity, Judaism, and Islam — especially as we dig deep into history here. 2,000 years ago, as Jesus was conducting His earthly ministry, we see how He was at odds with the rather fundamentalist Jewish leaders of the time: the scribes and Pharisees. See, if you actually looked at a Jewish woman of those days, and saw both the veil and headscarf that was required of Jews at the time, you'd actually think she was Muslim!

See, the scribes and Pharisees, being fundamentalist Jews known to have written fundamentalist books (i.e. Jubilees) as examples of their strict legalism, started using interpreters — very similar to the Supreme Court justices of today — to turn a small handful of laws written by Moses into thousands of laws that were impossible for anyone to live up to, like Muslim extremists do today, and also like al-Qaeda and the Taliban, they tended to unfairly exempt themselves from having to live up to the standards that they set. It's no wonder, therefore, why Jesus railed against them to the degree that He did in the Gospel account.

And of course, Muslim — and also Christian (I'm looking at you, Irish Republicans, Klansmen, and neo-Nazis)  and Jewish (JDL) — terrorists of today aren't much different. In all cases, they're extreme fundamentalist sects of the respective faiths that they claim to represent. Of course, in Islam that hypocrisy tends to be very obvious — people who conduct terror plots and call non-Muslims "crusaders and Zionists" by day, yet stare at pornography, run brothels, pig out, and conduct oil-soaked Ponzi schemes by night — but then again, we also see examples (such as Northern Ireland) of Christians attacking other Christians the same way — by calling each other heretics — and likewise in the Jewish case, examples like the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin carried out not by Hamas militants but by radical right-wing Jews with motives that almost resemble those that Anders Behring Breivik used to carry out the attacks in Norway.

Then again, the Muslim example is probably the single most significant of the three at describing an example of a hypocrite. The terrorists claim to be of a familiar God — the one that the Jews call Yahweh, that they call Allah, and that we Christians call the Heavenly Father — yet what they practice completely contradicts that claim. They publicly express hate, which we certainly know is hate that neither the Torah, nor Bible, nor even Quran (to a degree) endorses. They wage unsanctioned wars, wars that according to the Torah, Bible, and Quran alike are to be carried out only against pagans, never against members of their own faith or of similar faiths. Most importantly, they shout out claims of "Death to Israel", "Death to America", "Death to Zionists", and "Death to Crusaders" despite the fact that the Quran specifically refers to Jews and Christians as "people of the book" not to be messed with. Even by Muslim standards, those slogans are themselves hypocrisy, and guess what? They go to great lengths to try and persecute even the slightest dissent against Sharia as blasphemy. If that's the case, the only ones they should charge with blasphemy are themselves. Why? Because their definition of blasphemy — which is indeed a very broad one, amounting to mere dissent against the Quran and/or against Muslim leaders — is a definition that certainly includes making death threats towards members of faiths that the Quran deems illegal to be messed with, and oh, yeah, if we did the same with the Bible, it too would be blasphemous. Heck, it's almost as if they're proud to be called hypocrites, given that the very names "al-Qaeda" ("the Base" in Arabic) and "Taliban ("scholars" in Arabic) mean the exact same things in Arabic that "Parush" (most literally "set apart" — or, in a practical sense, "self-segregate" from those who don't believe, completely indicative of what Muslim terrorists also want to do in modern times) and "Sofer" mean in Hebrew.

See, people just don't listen. The parallelism between the habits of the scribes and Pharisees and those of al-Qaeda is certainly no coincidence. Yet they still conduct that very hypocrisy that Jesus railed against the scribes and Pharisees for: launching attacks, out of pure hatred, against the very people that the Quran — which they of course will defend to the death, as we've seen with reactions to Quran-burnings by Christian extremists — tells them not to touch. Not to mention, at least in private, committing the very adultery — in the form of brothel operation and porn distribution — that they say others should be stoned for. Well, this is exactly why I'm so happy to be a Christian who interprets the Bible the right way: because Jesus' teachings give me eyes to see this hypocrisy in people.