comparing Islamists to Christianists

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Anatole Kaletsky’s article from the TimesOnline begins by describing the often-obscene responses he received from US readers to his criticism of Bush in a recent column. Kaletsky had planned to retaliate by noting that “American ultra-conservatives were the only people on earth who could possibly rival Islamic fundamentalists in their paranoia, touchiness and lack of humour,” but changed his mind in light of the recent cartoon controversy, Kaletsky turned instead to “a serious comparison between the Muslim and American fundamentalists’ intolerance of other people’s ideas.”

The three distinctions Kaletsky observes are betweem “civility and legality,” “verbal abuse and physical violence,” and “religion and other beliefs.” Christianists fare better than Islamists in each of these comparisons, and yet he concludes:

Far from commanding any special respect or protection from the State, religions must be exposed to relentless criticism, like all non-rational traditions and beliefs. […] In America, the Constitution, with its prohibition against the establishment of any state religion and its absolute defence of free speech, demands a robust competition between faith and reason and among the religions themselves. And in the end, as America’s surprising piety clearly shows, it is not just society but also religion that emerges stronger from the refiner’s fire of competition, criticism and even insult. [emphasis added]

Perhaps it is this rational criticism that has civilized the majority of American religious believers?

(Thanks to Andrew Sullivan for the tip.)

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on February 9, 2006 12:39 PM.

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