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I beg to differ

Reader comment on item: A History of Muslim Terrorism against Jews in the United States
in response to reader comment: Religious wars

Submitted by Peter Herz (United States), May 26, 2009 at 14:22

Terms like "fanatic", "rational", and "just" (as in "justice") take their meanings from the traditions of discourse that use them. This is why a secularized West is having so much difficulty talking with the Islamic world. This problem also exposes a major flaw in the entire enlightenment project.

For people whose axioms include the belief that the Jews are kin to apes and pigs and that the eschatological battle will be fought against them [beliefs which I most emphatically do not share], the Jew-hatred of Muslims makes perfect, rational sense in that their anti-Jewish words and actions can be derived by deduction from their first principles.

I add as well that Hitler and Stalin acted with perfect rationality in relating principle and practice. It's just that I cannot accept their foundational principles.

As for fanaticism, I see Diderot's Culte Naturel and the fulminations of the Paines and Voltaires of the 18th century as a kind of mindless fanaticism. I see them as moral and intellectual parasitism as well, agreeing with Alasdair MacIntyre that Diderot's ethics smacked more than a little of Catholicism; Kant's of Lutheranism; and Hume's of Calvinism (maybe Spinoza's and Mendelsohn's smacked a little of what every 17th and 18th century proper Jewish Mother wanted her kids to be like, too? Someone conversant with Talmud kindly instruct me, please).

Yes, religion divides. And if we didn't have the historical religions around, I'm sure Mankind would find other lines along which it might divide--and find ample "rational" justification for doing so. Perhaps the murderous ideologies of the 19th and 20th centuries are a warning of what is likely to happen.

No, the current confrontation with radical Islam had blown the roof off of the enlightenment project, if romanticism, marxism, existentialism, and a few other new religions didn't do it earlier.

Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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