lame denials

Beverly Flanigan flanigan at OAK.CATS.OHIOU.EDU
Tue Sep 18 18:23:37 UTC 2001

At 07:41 PM 9/17/01 +0800, you wrote:
>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.

I don't know if anyone else saw the excellent Bill Moyers interview with
Robert Jay Lifton on PBS last night, but Lifton defined and discussed
religious belief in just the same terms as Larry.  If anything, he said,
extremist belief is religion in its rawest or "most pure" sense, i.e., as
not allowing any disagreement or ambiguity or dialogue at all.

Beverly Olson Flanigan         Department of Linguistics
Ohio University                     Athens, OH  45701
Ph.: (740) 593-4568              Fax: (740) 593-2967

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