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Keeping it Simple

Donald Trump thinks the US should stop Muslims from entering the country until leaders can “figure out what is going on”. This seems to be a reaction to the latest mass shooting (at least it was the the latest when I wrote this post because there could be another one any day – they happen with such regularity in the States) which was carried out by a militant Muslim couple.

I have always said that religion (and particularly Islam at the current time) should accept a lot of the blame for the atrocities happening in the world today. But that doesn’t mean that everyone who believes the same religion as the extremists bears the same blame. But they should accept some because they promote the same belief system which is the source of the murderous rampages in all parts of the world.

And yes, I know the apologists argument that terrorism is also a result of political and social forces has some truth. But that can’t hide the fact that it is primarily religious.

Look at this report on Tashfeen Malik, the woman who carried out the shooting with her husband: “She started dressing more conservatively, wearing a scarf that covered nearly all her face, and became more devout in her Muslim faith…”. Does that sound like religion played a significant part in her actions? It certainly does to me.

I admit I haven’t read the whole Koran and I certainly haven’t studied it, but from the parts of it I know it certainly seems to contain a lot of violence, misogyny, and intolerance, as well as being very, very boring. If this is the holy book at the center of the Muslim religion then I think there actually is a case to be made to be suspicious of all Muslims.

But I don’t think entry into a country should be decided based on anything as unrefined as which religion the person thinks themselves as belonging to. After all, labelling yourself as a Muslim, Christian, or anything else can indicate a huge range of beliefs depending on which particular sect of the religion you belong to, how seriously you take it, and what part of your total personality it comprises.

So a Muslim who takes the whole Koran (and Hadith and other sources of belief) literally, including all the apparent approval of violence, is a totally different threat to someone who is a more “modern” or “liberal” Muslim who participates in the traditions but either ignores or finds convoluted explanations for all the bad parts of their religion.

I have often said that I don’t have a dislike any group of people. So I have very little resentment towards Muslims, Christians, or anyone else. But I do oppose irrational, primitive, and violent beliefs. I don’t like religions because they’re just plain wrong, and if you start off with a belief which isn’t true then things often go down hill from there.

So Trump should be stopping people with extreme, irrational beliefs from entering the country, not just people with one particular religion. After all, there are plenty of violent actions carried out by Christians too. But I admit that idea is technically more difficult, and perhaps more importantly, it isn’t quite so effective as political rhetoric.

When things get bad people want simple answers. They want to be able to identify who are the good guys and who are the bad guys. But life isn’t a Hollywood Western and things aren’t quite as simple as that. Unfortunately in politics a simple answer is usually far more widely accepted than an accurate one, a principle Trump understands very well.

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