I think it’s time I did another mea culpa for this week, and this time it has nothing to do with dropping my daughter on a marble floor. It concerns the post from several weeks ago discussing my rumbling anxiousness concerning Islam after witnessing the death and destruction following the publication of the Mohammed cartoons.
I had a small conversion experience – or at least a breath of fresh illumination – after listening to a good deal of the amazing Two Narratives show on NPR a few days ago, where an Israeli Jew and an Palestinian both were given a lot of time to air their various frustrations and dreams. If that sounds dull to you, then the next forty years will probably bore you to tears, as it is these very mindsets that will probably forge the direction of both the U.S. and the whole world. I urge you to listen to at least a few minutes.
When I wrote that blog in February, I was partially mindful that it would hurt one of my oldest friends from Carolina, a sensationally intelligent, sensitive guy who converted to Islam a number of years ago. He and I will write a blog together on this topic soon (I hope) but I need to say, in public, that my ruminations on the subject were said in the heat of fear, and I’m somewhat embarrassed by them now. Li’l bro, please accept my apologies.
It has come to this: when I heard the news about the guy who drove his SUV into the Pit at UNC and tried to kill a bunch of students, the next thing everyone said was “he’s Muslim.” To which my first reaction was: “no, he’s CRAZY.” That motherfucker was no more a spokesman for Islam than Wendell Williamson was a spokesman for Presbyterianism.
And it began to dawn on me that we are not engaged in a battle against The East, nor against Islam, nor even against Fundamentalist Islam. We are in a war against CRAZY PEOPLE, and this go round, many of them happen to be of the Islamic faith. Casting this battle in religious tones, as Bush’s right-wing minions in print and media have done, has thrown our innocence out with the bathwater.
Does Fundamentalist Islam attract violent people? I don’t think so anymore. Being poor, hungry, choiceless, young and gullible does every time, however. The rest of the religion – like the one my friend practices – is full of love, brotherhood and (in the words of Yossi Klein Halevi, a Jew who went into the mosques and prayed with his “enemies”) has an enviable “fearlessness” about it.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I still think all religions that talk about an actual God that has rules and magical resurrections and Heaven and all that is still mystifyingly stupid, but as I’ve said before, I’m content to be the lone agnostic thinking everyone else has swallowed a pill I have not. I also have zero respect for religions that place an unholy burden on their children to marry within the faith. And I also invite all of you not to give a flying Rice Krispies Shit Square what I think. I mean, everybody wants a rock to wind a piece of string around.
But the angles are suddenly becoming clear. Those men holding signs in London saying “England, Your 9/11 is Coming” deserve a tire iron to the shins, not because of their religion, but because they’re CRAZY. Bin Laden is not Muslim, he’s CRAZY. Pat Robertson is not a Christian, he’s CRAZY. Ann Coulter is not a conservative, she’s CRUEL, ANGRY from some DEEP-SET EMOTIONAL TRAUMA, and thus CRAZY.
Forget religion and take these people at their words and actions. Bush was supposed to “redefine” his foreign policy yesterday and instead said more of the same old bullshit. Instead, if he’d said “The War on Terror is now called The War on Crazy,” then I would have signed on in a second. And the first battle would be getting rid of him.