For those who don't understand what this thread is about, Red Tulips and I have been engaging in a dialogue that has touched on a few different subjects. I am very, very grateful to be able to have this discussion with someone like her. Most of the time, I tend to shy away from on-line conversations about Judaism, Islam, and Christianity because so often they end up in shouting matches.
On the other hand, I've spent several years studying Middle Eastern and Maghribi culture so it's obviously something I'm interested in. I have my first mentor professor to thank for that. Dr. Mackie Blanton is one of the most amazing people I have ever encountered and whatever I become, I know I do that it is at least partially because of the way he challenged me to aspire to become a life-long academician. He was the first person to ask me to serve on a Muslim/Christian/Jewish dialogue panel. I've never met someone more dedicated to increasing the level of unity between people of all faiths. On top of all of that, he was a great father figure. I remember when my daughter's pre-school was having open house and he came too. My daughter really used to think that he was just her really tall buddy. Even now, I'm always slipping up and calling him "Brother Blanton", which is an appellation that I only used with ministers from my childhood church. It just seems to fit him and he said he didn't mind me calling him that but he's earned that "Dr." label more than a lot of other people who walk around feeling self-important because of their PhD.
My second mentor professor was a physics professor. Dr. Ashok Puri is Hindu. Even though his focus is on the sciences, the biggest lessons that he taught me was that we need to care about others even if we don't seem to share much in common with them. I don't think I could even do justice by trying to describe how much time that he spends to helping people of color and women overcome academic deficiencies and go on to obtain graduate degrees. He could easily have chosen to devote his time and efforts to helping students of Indian descent. Heck, he could have just focused on his own two sons and he'd still be worthy of a lot of respect. One of the things that I really appreciate about him is how he made himself available to us no matter what he was doing. God only knows how Mrs. Puri was able to put up with us students calling his house all the time and all of the trips out of town that we all took.
I know I've gone off on a tangent but I just wanted to mention these two professors who took me under their wing and changed my view about how much mankind can actually accomplish in the way of brotherhood. Anyway, this is a message that I wrote in response to Red Tulips post "Redefining Terrorism". I've posted it here so that anyone who visits here can chime in if they want to.
I don't think that when people use the "one man's terrorist..." cliche it's necessarily an attempt to justify a particular action as morally acceptable. I think it is simply a way of saying that who gets labeled a terrorist depends on what the labeler's interests are in the particular issue. I mean, if my favorite cousin goes out and kills a bus full of Japanese people, am I likely to view it as terrorism or just a case of road rage gone too far? The more we feel like we have in common with a group of people, the less likely we are to condemn their actions. That's human nature. It's because when we see ourselves in someone, it becomes to easier to be lenient with them as we'd want someone to be with us. If we can't relate to someone at all, then it's not such a problem to enact the harshest of punishments against them because we don't see ourselves as ever being anything like them.
First of all, this term "Islamofascists" makes absolutely no sense. It is specifically because America does not consider these people to be lawful combatants that it is claimed that the Geneva Convention standards do not apply to them. If this were some Islamofascist war then it would have to be against a particular government's army. I really wish that these labels would stop being thrown around so haphazardly. It only muddles the issues.
I do not believe that terrorism is ever justified. The problem with saying that the cause must be "THAT GREAT" is that those who engage in terrorist acts almost always feel that their cause is "THAT GREAT" even though the people who are their victims usually disagree. I can't think of a single group that has engaged in terrorist acts that did not think their actions were justifiable. I do not see how terrorism saves lives. It simply exchanges one type of atrocity for another. I see nothing ethical about that, especially since the majority of people who are victims of terrorism aren't necessarily guilty of anything. Yes, Jews were being systematically slaughtered. To me, the answer to that is for the slaughterers to stop killing NOT for other people to also become killers. Jews becoming killers did/does not prove that Jewish life is not cheap. It only proves that some Jews do not value life any more than the people who were willing to kill them. It's basically the equivalent of me as a parent spitting on my kid in order to teach my child that spitting on people is not acceptable. It just isn't logical despite whatever temporary satisfaction some may get from killing those they consider their enemies.
I'm sure that if you asked the "Rebels" if their cause was great enough to justify terrorizing those who disagreed with them, they'd have said it was. Why? Because people generally don't want to believe that they are unethical no matter what they do. I do not see genocide as an excuse for engaging in terrorism as we discussed before because if I were to believe this, then it would completely ethical for me to go out and kill anyone who isn't a Native American. With the number of Native Americans that have been slaughtered being much higher than the number of Jews that were killed, then the case for killing non-Native Americans would be even greater, would it not?
All terrorism is a means to an end. If the terrorizers didn't hope to accomplish something, then there would be no point in engaging in terrorist actions. It's rather scary to hear that some think that we should judge who lives or dies based on what we think of their religious tenets and traditions.
Weren't these the same sort of arguments that the Nazis made about what might happen if Jews were allowed to take over the world? The consequences that they claimed would result was used as a justification for engaging in atrocious killings but it was all conjecture, mere speculation. We don't know what a world run by Jews would be like any more than we know what a world run by Muslims would be like. I think that both hypothetical situations would probably depend on what specific individuals from these faiths were put in charge. But even if there was the possibility that an evil Jewish or Muslim world-government might come to power and make the world the sort of place that's uncomfortable for people like me, I still don't think that it would be acceptable for me to kill Jews or Muslims. I don't think that entire groups should suffer because they don't promote the sort of lifestyle that I prefer.
If killing others is not the only option available to Muslims, then it's only logical that this is not the only option available for any other individual or group. We can all decide not to be killers and the sooner that people stop believing that death can be a path to peace, the better off we all will be. I don't feel any safer when a Muslim is killed than I do when a Jew is killed or when a Hindu or Buddhist or a Christian is killed. It all increases the likelihood that eventually it will be me that's killed...or worse yet, my child.
Your argument about where Muslims are "indiscriminately killed" is also illogical. The Nazis claimed to have good reasons for killing Jews. I don't buy that any more than I buy into the arguments that people have legitimate reasons for killing Muslims.
As long as people accept the argument that some killing is justified all killing will be found justifiable by someone.