lame denials

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Sep 17 11:41:57 UTC 2001

At 5:18 PM -0400 9/17/01, Conversa wrote:
>At 01:14 PM 9/17/01 +0800, Lawrence Horn wrote:
(I think it was actually Laurence Horn)

>>Certainly the perpetrators of the recent attacks must be godless
>>secular types, since obviously no religious believers could be
>>capable of such infamous...oops, never mind.
>I understand your frustration but I would not categorize the
>perpetrators as "religious believers". Even my Muslim friends tell
>me that their religion does not endorse the killing of the innocent
>nor suicide, and some tell me that these two acts are "sinful" and
>"punishable by damnation."  The faction represented by these
>terrorists is so out of line that some have described what is going
>on as a "battle for the soul of Islam." On the one side the
>terrorist extremists and their quasi-religious views and on the
>other the decent, peace-loving and responsible "center" of Islam.

I'd have to disagree here, and I'm relieved we're now talking about
differences in the denotation of lexical items instead of just
politics and religion.  I think by any standard the (putative)
perpetrators are very much "religious believers", even if their
particular view of Islam does not comport with yours or with those of
who you see (and I see) as "mainstream" believers.   I'm not sure how
you can define "religious believers" so as to exclude fanatics,
whether we're talking about the Jewish guys who shot up a Palestinian
mosque or the Catholics who organized the Spanish Inquisition or
roasted various pagans on various stakes or the Protestants who
burned suspected witches in Salem to purify their village or Hindus
who assassinate Moslems and vice versa in India or...
The point is that (as far as this radical secularist/born-again
Unitarian sees it) you can't dismiss the "terrorist
extremists'...views" as "quasi-religious" because we don't agree with
them, i.e. the view that if you kill lots and lots of infidels and
yourself, there will be many dark-haired dark-eyed virgins waiting
for you in heaven.  These views ARE religious, even if they're not
those of "responsible" Islam.


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