|Photo courtesy of www.scenesofreason.com|
I follow Hedayah on Facebook -- an organisation that is doing some great work with regard to pushing back against religious extremism and radicalization.
Along with their official posts, they also distribute the work of others in their social media feed, like this one by Average Mohamed via the NPR website.
What is as interesting as the article is the comment stream that follows it. It's the usual fare: "You are the problem/they are the problem/tolerance is the problem...."
Strangely, NPR don't seem particularly interested in a broader point of view than the standard binary of "total war/total peace", and have refused to post my commentary.
So, I'll do it here instead.
(Makes more sense if you head over to the source of such consternation first, check it out, then take a peak at the commentary. Apparently "bombing things to hell" and insulting any religion that is not one's own is okay, but the odd redacted colourful word is not.)
Behold: the comment that NPR don't seem to want to publish.
This commentary seems to be the new standard response to anyone who is deciding to think about stemming the tide of extremist behavior.
* Dude thinks there must be a better way of dealing with the genesis of extremism by sending a message to those who are most likely to be radicalized -- disaffected youth who self-associate with the concept of being disenfranchised.
* Decides to make cartoon that, albeit in a rudimentary fashion, might at the very least open a dialogue regarding people being diverse, and that diversity can be embraced.
* Posts self-funded cartoon on what (assuming that garage managers don't earn that much to begin with) must be at best a modest amount of cash available for production funds.
* Internet loses its collective mind in a s**t-storm of "They did this", "So did they", "They did it worse", "No they didn't", "Did...", "Didn't.."
The thing that astounds me is that people will bang on about extremism and radicalization being a massive problem, but are so resistant to the idea that someone from the perceived 'other side' is actually doing what they can, even in such a tiny way as this underfunded amateur cartoon.
There is no answer to be found in looking at the scorecards of any religion. Hell, even Buddhists have historically been known to have a reasonable go at eradicating a perceived enemy with an all-but-genocidal fervor -- despite being the lifestyle of choice for peace-loving hippies over the last several decades.
What is key is this: "Globally, we are in a pretty cruddy situation, so what the tap-dancing f*** are we going to do about it now?"
The idea that one religion can be eradicated is naive, so there isn't much hope of a long-term solution there. Even if it were possible, what is the alternative? Inoculating the Muslim world, and thus making them Christians? Or Jews? Or Pastafarians? Or *shudder* Scientologists?
What would that actually look like? Particularly if the political/economic landscape remained the same?
Average Mohamed has done something positive here, and it is terrifying that the response to it is often reduced to veiled (or overt) arguments in favor of increasing violent response, rather than recognize that there are other ways to approach the issues.
This is the meat of the argument -- the situation has become so huge that a reductionist binary attitude of "Blow them all back to the 8th century hell they came from / stop all military intervention and hand out flowers" just doesn't cut it.
Management is key: Dealing with the current situation is necessary, but so is managing the components that feed the situation.
If nothing else, Ahmed has tried to reach out to the most vulnerable to stupid ideas of all humans -- youth.
For as long as there have been teenagers, there has been teenage angst against "the man" and dominant culture -- after all, it's how we ended up with Emos, and who wants their kid to be an Emo? I mean it's better than a radicalized religious nut, but it still frames the unusual choices a teen might embrace.
(Don't get huffy, tongue is firmly in cheek regarding the Emo comparison... I actually like Fall Out Boy, I just wish they'd give some credit to The Cure for their pioneering of pre-emo stuff around the time the members of FoB were born.)