Friday, September 14, 2012


I heard on the radio yesterday my favorite comment on the current violence in the Middle East.  Alas, I cannot remember who it was.  She said that Christianist fanatics and Islamist fanatics live in a kind of symbiosis.  They need each other and help each other.  One foments provocation and the other exploits the reaction.  Without each other, they could not exist.  That is a symbiotic relationship.  They need each others' hatred like air and water to survive.

It is the rest of us who must suffer their presence.

Terry Jones burning a Quran in Florida

Islamist fanatics burning the American flag

All of this madness cost the life of Ambassador Chris Stevens.  Stevens was not the usual Imperial American Proconsul appointed to oversee oil company and military interests in the Middle East.  He played an active role in helping the Libyan opposition to topple Qaddafi, and he was probably responsible for saving the city of Benghazi from a certain massacre at the hands of Qaddafi's forces.  The Libyans deeply regret his death.  It looks likely that organized Islamist militants exploited the rage over the anti-Islam video to stage an attack on the American consulate in Benghazi in retaliation for the recent death of an Al Qaeda chief at American hands.

The Middle East is a tinderbox of accumulated and long repressed resentment over exploitation and humiliation by the USA for many decades.  The region swarms with cynical opportunists eager to exploit that resentment for their own purposes.
By the same token, the USA itself has become an increasingly polarized and volatile place with growing inequality, declining standards of living, diminishing prospects, legalized political corruption, cultural and demographic change, and the transition from democratic to oligarchic rule.  We have our own growing population of violent religious fanatics who have political and financial influence, and easy access to weapons.  There are cynical opportunists here eager to exploit people's fears and resentments to gain power.  For them, a flare up of ancient Christian versus Muslim hostility, together with insulted American nationalism, is a golden opportunity.

One side gains nourishment from the other, a true symbiosis.

Fanatics are all alike.  It doesn't matter what they believe, the mindset, the actions, and the consequences are always the same.


Secretary of State Clinton speaks out forcefully against fanaticism for the feast of Eid al Fitr.

We can pledge that whenever one person speaks out in ignorance and bigotry, ten voices will answer. They will answer resoundingly against the offense and the insult; answering ignorance with enlightenment; answering hatred with understanding; answering darkness with light. ...

In times like these, it can be easy to despair that some differences are irreconcilable, some mountains too steep to climb; we will therefore never reach the level of understanding and peacefulness that we seek, and which I believe the great religions of the world call us to pursue.  But that’s not what I believe, and I don’t think it’s what you believe… Part of what makes our country so special is we keep trying. We keep working. We keep investing in our future.

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