Pope Fiasco

This week, the world is dealing with another inflammatory situation from the loving, uniting realm of religious rhetoric. The Pope's comments have once again inflamed the Muslim world with righteous indignation. Extremists are renewing calls for holy war in response to an address given at a university in Germany.

There are so many things going on here. We have a Pope who made the comments, apparently surprised and "upset" over the response to them. Really?!!? Surprised? That is hard to believe. Was he in Papal hibernation during the cartoon flap? His excuse is that the comments were not his, but those of a 14th century Byzantine emperor. Now, personally I think he has a halfway valid argument. I've read his comments and I don't believe he is endorsing the statement, but rather discussing the relationship between violence and the spread of one's faith. But, there are a couple of problems. First, it doesn't matter what I think. I'm not going to be offended anyway. Second, his inclusion of the inflammatory statement seems unnecessary to his broader point. If he had just referred to the second point made by the "erudite" emperor, it would have been a good point made about any religion, without referring to any particular one.

The Pope should certainly know better than to make a statement like this, but the reaction has definitely been over the top. The ridiculous rhetoric from the fringes of the Muslim world was to be expected. Of course, the press is acting like the extremists are the voices of all of Islam.

So, why did it come to this? (This is the part that the wingnuts are going to love)

In allowing our government to perpetrate an occupation of a sovereign Islamic country that posed no threat to us in response to a criminal attack by a completely unrelated entity, we have been complicit in the appearance of renewed Crusades against Muslim lands and peoples. So, although the Pope's statement was not representative of American views (officially), it gets attached to our policies because of our apparent war against Islam.

I'll repeat this over and over again. The President is wrong. The way to beat extremism is not to declare war on abstract concepts and extreme tactics. It is not to bomb the Muslim world into submission to remind all of the "might" of America. The only way to defeat extremism is the same as the way to stop crime. Examine the root causes of it, even if this means introspection. Change the conditions so that the extremists' recruitment does not seem so appealing to so many.

No comments: