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When It Comes to Killing in the Name of Religion and Nationhood, Christians Hold the Modern Record

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There are few Americans -- if any but extremist Armageddon (of any religion) and anti-government militia supporters -- who feel anything but the deepest of sorrow for the victims of the Boston Marathon apparent religious acts of terrorism – conducted by what appear to be a radicalized permanent resident and his younger brother, an American citizen.  It was -- as was 9/11 --  a heinous, shocking act.
 
But the insightful Juan Cole puts into perspective that most followers of Islam are peaceful people.  The Jihadists and their networks compose a small percentage of believers in the Islamic faith.
 
Perhaps it is a little too early to start comparing the death tolls caused by different religious faiths in the last 100 years, but Cole takes a stab at it -- and this is what he finds. In the 20th Century, of the estimated (and this is hardly a firm figure, understated if anything) 120 million people were killed in wars and war-like acts (terrorism) only a small fraction of that figure was the result of Muslim killings.  Cole offers a chart that visually displays the dramatic lopsided accountability of Christian nations: mostly those located in Europe plus the US and Canada.
 
Many Americans will react with dismay that Cole is setting the record straight.  But it is vital to point out that he condemns terrorism and war for empire of any sort.  He is simply pointing out that to think that Christianity and Christian nations are more virtuous and less blood thirsty than followers of Islam is statistically incorrect.  As Cole concludes in his commentary on relative blood lust in the name of a divine force or nationhood,
 
Terrorism is a tactic of extremists within each religion, and within secular religions of Marxism or nationalism. No religion, including Islam, preaches indiscriminate violence against innocents.
 
It takes a peculiar sort of blindness to see Christians of European heritage as “nice” and Muslims and inherently violent, given the twentieth century death toll I mentioned above. Human beings are human beings and the species is too young and too interconnected to have differentiated much from group to group. People resort to violence out of ambition or grievance, and the more powerful they are, the more violence they seem to commit. The good news is that the number of wars is declining over time, and World War II, the biggest charnel house in history, hasn’t been repeated.
 
Nothing can further exemplify the deep roots of a Christian need to force others to accept Jesus Christ as saviors than the gory, bloody rampage of the Crusades, which over years left countless "infidels" slain.  Or one can look at the inquisition where non-believers in Christ were tortured and executed.  
 
Add to that, just for the sake of example, the missionary slaughter that took place when Spain and Portugal colonized Central and South America for Christ (and gold and other riches).  Or the savagery of European Christian nations conquering Africa and engaging in slavery.
 
No, there are no excuses or sympathy to be expressed for the Tsarnaev brothers.  Their act was horrifying, incomprehensible – causing the most profound grief at a finish line that is a symbol of triumph. So are the acts of suicide bombers, bombers of buses, etc.  Public acts of terrorism are gruesome, terrifying and heart-wrenching; but so are many acts of war in the name of nationhood, ethnic identity, religion -- of all these together.
 
But rather than proceed on another post 9/11 government and FOX/Limbaugh decade of Islamophobia, we need to look into our own religious and national identities to find pathways toward peace with all religions.  Faith in a divine force has been a historical spiritual need for most of the world, but the need to impose a given faith on others has been a ghastly virus that breaks out from time to time.  The result is inevitably maiming and a gruesome loss of life.
 
There is no virtue in the history of the Christian Western World when it comes to wars and killing.  We need to prevent as many acts as we can similar to the Boston Marathon massacre, but to do so, we must also look inside ourselves and recognize that killing under the flag of any religion, nation or tribal identity is abhorrent  – whether it be the Tsarnaev brothers or wars for religion, tribal identity (including nationhood) or empire.

osted on 04/23/2013 by Juan Cole

Contrary to what is alleged by bigots like Bill Maher, Muslims are not more violent than people of other religions. Murder rates in most of the Muslim world are very low compared to the United States.

As for political violence, people of Christian heritage in the twentieth century polished off tens of millions of people in the two world wars and colonial repression. This massive carnage did not occur because European Christians are worse than or different from other human beings, but because they were the first to industrialize war and pursue a national model. Sometimes it is argued that they did not act in the name of religion but of nationalism. But, really, how naive. Religion and nationalism are closely intertwined. The British monarch is the head of the Church of England, and that still meant something in the first half of the twentieth century, at least. The Swedish church is a national church. Spain? Was it really unconnected to Catholicism? Did the Church and Francisco Franco’s feelings toward it play no role in the Civil War? And what’s sauce for the goose: much Muslim violence is driven by forms of modern nationalism, too.

I don’t figure that Muslims killed more than a 2 million people or so in political violence in the entire twentieth century, and that mainly in the Iran-Iraq War 1980-1988 and the Soviet and post-Soviet wars in Afghanistan, for which Europeans bear some blame.

Compare that to the Christian European tally of, oh, lets say 100 million (16 million in WW I, 60 million in WW II– though some of those were attributable to Buddhists in Asia– and millions more in colonial wars.)

relviolence

Belgium– yes, the Belgium of strawberry beer and quaint Gravensteen castle– conquered the Congo and is estimated to have killed off half of its inhabitants over time, some 8 million people at least.

Or, between 1916-1917 Tsarist Russian forces — facing the Basmachi revolt of Central Asians trying to throw off Christian, European rule — Russian forces killed an estimated 1.5 million people. Two boys brought up in or born in one of those territories (Kyrgyzstan) just killed 4 people and wounded others critically. That is horrible, but no one, whether in Russia or in Europe or in North America has the slightest idea that Central Asians were mass-murdered during WW I and looted of much of their wealth. Russia at the time was an Eastern Orthodox, Christian empire (and seems to be reemerging as one!).

Then, between half a million and a million Algerians died in that country’s war of independence from France, 1954-1962, at a time when the population was only 11 million!

I could go on and on. Everywhere you dig in European colonialism in Afro-Asia, there are bodies. Lots of bodies.

Now that I think of it, maybe 100 million people killed by people of European Christian heritage in the twentieth century is an underestimate.

As for religious terrorism, that too is universal. Admittedly, some groups deploy terrorism as a tactic more at some times than others. Zionists in British Mandate Palestine were active terrorists in the 1940s, from a British point of view, and in the period 1965-1980, the FBI considered the Jewish Defense League among the most active US terrorist groups. (Members at one point plotted to assassinate Rep. Dareell Issa (R-CA) because of his Lebanese heritage.) Now that Jewish nationalsts are largely getting their way, terrorism has declined among them. But it would likely reemerge if they stopped getting their way. In fact, one of the arguments Israeli politicians give for allowing Israeli squatters to keep the Palestinian land in the West Bank that they have usurped is that attempting to move them back out would produce violence. I.e., the settlers not only actually terrorize the Palestinians, but they form a terrorism threat for Israel proper (as the late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin discovered).

Even more recently, it is difficult for me to see much of a difference between Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Baruch Goldstein, perpetrator of the Hebron massacre.

Or there was the cold-blooded bombing of the Ajmer shrine in India by Bhavesh Patel and a gang of Hindu nationalists. Chillingly, they were disturbed when a second bomb they had set did not go off, so that they did not wreak as much havoc as they would have liked. Ajmer is an ecumenical Sufi shrine also visited by Hindus, and these bigots wanted to stop such open-minded sharing of spiritual spaces because they hate Muslims.

Buddhists have committed a lot of terrorism and other violence as well. Many in the Zen orders in Japan supported militarism in the first half of the twentieth century, for which their leaders later apologized. And, you had Inoue Shiro’s assassination campaign in 1930s Japan. Nowadays militant Buddhist monks in Burma/ Myanmar are urging on an ethnic cleansing campaign against the Rohingya.

As for Christianity, the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda initiated hostilities that displaced two million people. Although it is an African cult, it is Christian in origin and the result of Western Christian missionaries preaching in Africa. If Saudi Wahhabi preachers can be in part blamed for the Taliban, why do Christian missionaries skate when we consider the blowback from their pupils?

Despite the very large number of European Muslims, in 2007-2009 less than 1 percent of terrorist acts in that continent were committed by people from that community.

Terrorism is a tactic of extremists within each religion, and within secular religions of Marxism or nationalism. No religion, including Islam, preaches indiscriminate violence against innocents.

It takes a peculiar sort of blindness to see Christians of European heritage as “nice” and Muslims and inherently violent, given the twentieth century death toll I mentioned above. Human beings are human beings and the species is too young and too interconnected to have differentiated much from group to group. People resort to violence out of ambition or grievance, and the more powerful they are, the more violence they seem to commit. The good news is that the number of wars is declining over time, and World War II, the biggest charnel house in history, hasn’t been repeated.

by on Apr. 23, 2013 at 2:34 PM
Replies (121-126):
kailu1835
by Ruby Member on Apr. 25, 2013 at 12:35 PM
This wouldn't open for me.

Quoting Carpy:

http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2011/05/terror-trends-40-years-data-on-international-and-domestic-terrorism

Carpy
by Ruby Member on Apr. 25, 2013 at 2:59 PM
don't know why just Google terror trends

Quoting kailu1835:

This wouldn't open for me.



Quoting Carpy:

http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2011/05/terror-trends-40-years-data-on-international-and-domestic-terrorism

Peanutx3
by Ruby Member on Apr. 25, 2013 at 3:01 PM
1 mom liked this


Quoting Peanutx3:

I understand this was posted in response to all the anti-Muslim posts but really what purpose does posting these kind of articles?  Posting these types of articles is as bad as posting any kind of anti-religion article. They only serve to divide. 



Carpy
by Ruby Member on Apr. 25, 2013 at 3:04 PM
Guns are just a sideline and mostly for hunting, the money is in fireworks. Sorry. I have no desire to have enemies. I make my money on celebration.

Quoting Momniscient:

lol. Of course I do. Because you strike me as one who really really wants Islam to be the enemy. And to sell guns to those who need enemies.

Quoting Carpy:

You strike me as someone who isn't quite in touch with reality.

Quoting Momniscient:

I guess you don't want to believe that terrorism is a bogeyman but I also think you aren't paying attention if you really think that to a lot of Americans terrorism isn't automatically associated with Islam. Hell it's right here in this very thread.

My guess is that you probably don't want to think that way. That in and of itself is interesting.

Terrorism as the big scary thing is just a replacement of the commie (it was touted as real and tangible during the cold war too) or the Asian person who needed to be put in an internment camp after the bombing of Pearl Harbor because they were real and tangible threats. Or when the Irish were real and tangible threats to the American way of life. Remember when the British were the real and tangible threat?


Only history has told us that those real and tangible threats weren't really real or that tangible...America thrives on xenophobia and the threat of the 'other.'

Always has.

Quoting KreatingMe:

We disagree. I don't think it's obvious. I don't think Islam and terrorism are synonymous to a large amount of Americans. I think they're synonymous to some, who are the minority. 

I disagree that terrorism is just a catchphrase. It's a very real danger. It's tangible, it's happened, again. It's  not a boogeyman or an abstract idea. Almost 3,000 Americans died on Sept 11. The fantasy is in pretending that radical terrorists don't exist and aren't a danger to the US. 

Quoting Momniscient:

I think it's obvious that there are a lot of Americans who see Muslims as the bogeyman. Just the whole 'Timothy McVeigh wasn't doing it in the name of christianity' thing is case in point. There is very little thought that goes into Islam beyond bogeyman mentality. Islam and terrorism are synonymous to a LOT of Americans.

Terrorism is a fun little catchphrase that puts a convenient bogeyman into the spotlight. Just as commies were bogeymen in the cold war and Japanese during WWII. Ever wonder why?

Cause they are visible and Americans just love a common enemy to freak out over.


Quoting KreatingMe:

Do you believe Americans see Muslims as the boogeyman or terrorists as the boogeyman? 

Quoting Momniscient:

The graph is skewed, but I can see a point.

The US has always needed a bogeyman though and Christianity just doesn't fit the bill. Muslims are much more easy to see.







Momniscient
by Ruby Member on Apr. 25, 2013 at 4:12 PM

Snicker.

Uh huh. You'll forgive me if your worldview isn't one I find informed or desireable. lol.

Quoting Carpy:

Guns are just a sideline and mostly for hunting, the money is in fireworks. Sorry. I have no desire to have enemies. I make my money on celebration.

Quoting Momniscient:

lol. Of course I do. Because you strike me as one who really really wants Islam to be the enemy. And to sell guns to those who need enemies.

Quoting Carpy:

You strike me as someone who isn't quite in touch with reality.

Quoting Momniscient:

I guess you don't want to believe that terrorism is a bogeyman but I also think you aren't paying attention if you really think that to a lot of Americans terrorism isn't automatically associated with Islam. Hell it's right here in this very thread.

My guess is that you probably don't want to think that way. That in and of itself is interesting.

Terrorism as the big scary thing is just a replacement of the commie (it was touted as real and tangible during the cold war too) or the Asian person who needed to be put in an internment camp after the bombing of Pearl Harbor because they were real and tangible threats. Or when the Irish were real and tangible threats to the American way of life. Remember when the British were the real and tangible threat?


Only history has told us that those real and tangible threats weren't really real or that tangible...America thrives on xenophobia and the threat of the 'other.'

Always has.

Quoting KreatingMe:

We disagree. I don't think it's obvious. I don't think Islam and terrorism are synonymous to a large amount of Americans. I think they're synonymous to some, who are the minority. 

I disagree that terrorism is just a catchphrase. It's a very real danger. It's tangible, it's happened, again. It's  not a boogeyman or an abstract idea. Almost 3,000 Americans died on Sept 11. The fantasy is in pretending that radical terrorists don't exist and aren't a danger to the US. 

Quoting Momniscient:

I think it's obvious that there are a lot of Americans who see Muslims as the bogeyman. Just the whole 'Timothy McVeigh wasn't doing it in the name of christianity' thing is case in point. There is very little thought that goes into Islam beyond bogeyman mentality. Islam and terrorism are synonymous to a LOT of Americans.

Terrorism is a fun little catchphrase that puts a convenient bogeyman into the spotlight. Just as commies were bogeymen in the cold war and Japanese during WWII. Ever wonder why?

Cause they are visible and Americans just love a common enemy to freak out over.


Quoting KreatingMe:

Do you believe Americans see Muslims as the boogeyman or terrorists as the boogeyman? 

Quoting Momniscient:

The graph is skewed, but I can see a point.

The US has always needed a bogeyman though and Christianity just doesn't fit the bill. Muslims are much more easy to see.









Carpy
by Ruby Member on Apr. 25, 2013 at 4:53 PM
whatever

Quoting Momniscient:

Snicker.

Uh huh. You'll forgive me if your worldview isn't one I find informed or desireable. lol.

Quoting Carpy:

Guns are just a sideline and mostly for hunting, the money is in fireworks. Sorry. I have no desire to have enemies. I make my money on celebration.



Quoting Momniscient:

lol. Of course I do. Because you strike me as one who really really wants Islam to be the enemy. And to sell guns to those who need enemies.

Quoting Carpy:

You strike me as someone who isn't quite in touch with reality.

Quoting Momniscient:

I guess you don't want to believe that terrorism is a bogeyman but I also think you aren't paying attention if you really think that to a lot of Americans terrorism isn't automatically associated with Islam. Hell it's right here in this very thread.

My guess is that you probably don't want to think that way. That in and of itself is interesting.

Terrorism as the big scary thing is just a replacement of the commie (it was touted as real and tangible during the cold war too) or the Asian person who needed to be put in an internment camp after the bombing of Pearl Harbor because they were real and tangible threats. Or when the Irish were real and tangible threats to the American way of life. Remember when the British were the real and tangible threat?


Only history has told us that those real and tangible threats weren't really real or that tangible...America thrives on xenophobia and the threat of the 'other.'

Always has.

Quoting KreatingMe:

We disagree. I don't think it's obvious. I don't think Islam and terrorism are synonymous to a large amount of Americans. I think they're synonymous to some, who are the minority. 

I disagree that terrorism is just a catchphrase. It's a very real danger. It's tangible, it's happened, again. It's  not a boogeyman or an abstract idea. Almost 3,000 Americans died on Sept 11. The fantasy is in pretending that radical terrorists don't exist and aren't a danger to the US. 

Quoting Momniscient:

I think it's obvious that there are a lot of Americans who see Muslims as the bogeyman. Just the whole 'Timothy McVeigh wasn't doing it in the name of christianity' thing is case in point. There is very little thought that goes into Islam beyond bogeyman mentality. Islam and terrorism are synonymous to a LOT of Americans.

Terrorism is a fun little catchphrase that puts a convenient bogeyman into the spotlight. Just as commies were bogeymen in the cold war and Japanese during WWII. Ever wonder why?

Cause they are visible and Americans just love a common enemy to freak out over.


Quoting KreatingMe:

Do you believe Americans see Muslims as the boogeyman or terrorists as the boogeyman? 

Quoting Momniscient:

The graph is skewed, but I can see a point.

The US has always needed a bogeyman though and Christianity just doesn't fit the bill. Muslims are much more easy to see.








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