Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Does the Truth Lie?

The paper carried a wire story this morning headed “British authorities arrest six on terrorism charges”. The kind of story that makes you think about how pervasive Islamic terrorism must be; how it does appear that two of the major religions of the world are squaring off once again just as in the old Crusades, even though you’d rather it wasn’t that way.

But is this really true? Some people say that stories like this are propaganda designed to maintain support for “the war on terrorism”. An article sent to me off the web yesterday sheds some light on the subject. Titled The Islamic Threat to Europe: By the Numbers it was written by Kristoffer Larsson and is about a study published by Europol – short for European Police Office. If you want to review the entire report, check it out at Europol's website.

The report says 498 terrorist attacks took place in EU countries last year. So how many were carried out by Islamists? One. That’s right, one. In the U.S., we have suffered three major attacks within our borders. Two on the twin towers and one in Oklahoma City. The two in New York apparently were carried out by people of the Islamic faith. The one in Oklahoma was domestic.

So what does Larsson contend is reason for all the stories we read about Islamic terrorism? – To keep the Military Industrial Complex running smoothly, we always need an enemy. My view of the word Islamic is that it is used to define an “enemy” and that some of our Christian fundamentalists are just as rabid as the Islamic fundamentalists, but that this conflict is not over religion. It is over economic and physical oppression represented internationally by the dominant western governments, America and Britain.

So where does the truth lie? The truths lie to us all the time. The spin our pols apply to nearly everything they say leaves us all responsible to interpret everything we read and not just accept it on face value. In this case, I lean more toward Mr. Larsson’s interpretation than Mr. Bush’s.

Yes, the "terrorists" come from the Islamic world, but is their religion the major reason they are fighting against us? There is no doubt that there are people in the Islamic world who would like to eliminate us. They believe that Islam is under attack, but, as my blog yesterday emphasized, they are striking back at our political approach – not our religion even though their recruitment spiel is that Islam is under attack. The public rhetoric that emphasizes the religions involved in this scrap comes from our side. The statements I have read from Islamic "terrorists" talk about American hegemony, not about Christianity. So is this really a face-off between Islamists and Christians? Is the basis for this conflict a difference between religions or is it between people who see America and Britain as imperialistic oppressors on one side and the American and British governments on the other?

For my money, regardless of the etiology of all this death, I would very much appreciate the press backing away from characterizing the conflict as a religious one. If the “terrorists” were not labeled Islamic, wouldn’t we have a different view of the reasons for all the furor? Even the term terrorist carries some spin. That’s why I often put it in quotation marks. Fighters who do not have a government are always labeled terrorists or insurrectionists or some such designation other than the name they choose to call themselves. The name terrorist automatically makes them outlaws, so we feel we don’t need to give their cause any credence.

We’ve all come to expect our politicians to lie to us at all times, but if the press would speak in such a way that the truth didn’t lie, we would all understand our world much more clearly.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. – Mahatma Gandhi.

Yours in Peace -- BR

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