I've got a much longer post up at the Milpub on this subject, but suffice to say that the shootings at the Paris political magazine just reminded me of what a goddamn toxic thing religion is when you throw it into the political stewpot.
And, first, I want to throw out the idea that somehow this is "Islam", that somehow Islam and Muslims are uniquely violent.
Think about it. For hundreds of years Europe was torn up by Protestants killing Catholics, Catholics killing Protestants and everybody killing Jews.
Don't even get me started on atheists and witches.
Where you went to church (or whether you did..) was a killing matter in Europe for centuries. Google "Thirty Years War" sometime and read up on what it did to Germany, among other places. Wasteland. Total fuckstory. Trust me on this.
Believing you have a pipeline to the Almighty makes a hell of a great reason to kill people who are piped into a different Heaven, and that was enough reason for Christian Europeans to do some of the world's most enthusiastic killing for centuries.
And then we stopped.
We booted the preachers the hell out of our politics - most of us - and, though we may kill each other for secular reasons, decided it was louche at best to go crusading.
Sure, some idiots still want to return to the Good Old Days when killing infidels for Baby Jesus got you into Heaven. But for most of us where our neighbors go to church - or whether they go to church or not - is a matter of massive indifference. The notion that someone is scarey because he might be Catholic and take orders from the Pope (as was said of JFK) or a Jehovah's Witness or a Mormon or a Hindu or a Sikh seems ludicrous as the Blood Libel to us today. Outside of the Balkans (determined to be perverse as they have always been) religious skepticism, ignorance, indifference, and sloth is the rule in Western public life. It's considered rude (outside the Issa household) to parade your religiousity in public, let alone so much as upbraid anyone else for their infidelity.
We just can't be arsed to kill our neighbors or the random stranger anymore because they don't love our God not because we're better or kinder people but because we just don't give enough of a shit. Who cares what the Johnsons are doing Sunday morning? The fuckin' Vikes are playing, man!
As a whole, as a society, the West seems to worship - if it worships anything - sex and money and prettiness and fame. And while that in itself is a whole 'nother cluster of fuck it doesn't seem to be as lethal. Nobody seems to shoot somebody else over Hooters girls' tight shirts.
The occasional abortion doc, maybe. But, still.
So the last religion standing seems to be Islam, at this point. Which is pretty bizarre when you consider that in 1945 the idea of "political Islam" seemed like the height of lunacy.
All over the Islamic world secular governments were replacing the old colonial regimes. In fact the heartland of the current IS and AQ shenangans - Iraq and Syria - was largely run by "Baath" parties which were overtly and fiercely secular. The exemplar for the emerging Arab states was Turkey and the anticlericalism of the Young Turks.
But between the Western powers and Israel these secular states were shown up to their populations as either venal, weak, or both. Secular dictators were suborned with Western cash and weapons, or defeated by Israeli arms. The only groups that seemed to actually fight back effectively were the jihadis. The U.S. and the West also helped coddle a Saudi regime that nursed the Wahhabi madrassis that produced so many of these jihadi vipers. Charlie Wilson & Co. turned them loose on the Soviets which seemed like a damn fine idea at the time...and then cut them loose when the Soviets ran for cover.
The the world's deadest tall Saudi had the brilliant idea that if he goaded the American bull it's smash up the Middle Eastern china shop and it worked like a mechanical ass-kicker and and here we are.
It seems to me that the BEST answer to the jihadi problem would be the same thing that provided the solution to the Western Wars of Religion; indifference.
Everytime some TV preacher or some fatuous GOP fucktard starts ranting about how my country needs a healthy dose of Jesus or a return to "biblical values" my first thought is "Yeah, like witch-burning, adulterer-stoning, and crusades? The fuck we do."
We want to return to the Wars of Religion? We want to return to forced conversion and prosecutions for heresy and blue laws? My ass; the West voted with its feet - out the church door - a long time ago and it seems to me for all the flaws in Western civilization I can't but think that decision was a damn good one.
It seems to me that a big fat dose of fuck-you-preacherman would do the whole Islamic umma a hell of a lot of good, too.