Let’s Not Forget Our Own Extremism

To deem behavior or opinion as extremist depends on a particular point of view.

In January, a million people gathered behind world leaders who elbowed each other to be out in front of a “Je Suis Charlie” banner. When normality does not sell, as Vincente del Bosque puts it, elites cut out an increasingly radical profile. Behind them, among the masses, it looks as if intolerance is drawing a crowd.

But it begs the question, if we have civilized ourselves in part by cultivating tolerance, then why do we appear to be living in times of such virulent extremism? Are many of us so inundated with radical political viewpoints and infatuated with war that we now assume that the word “intolerant” cannot be associated with the expression of our own (Western) politically extremist views?

Children fill containers with drinking water in the Old City of Sanaa on Wednesday. (Reuters)

To deem behavior or opinion as extremist depends on a presumptive point of view. I would like to think that the preferred standpoint is one that draws from the better lessons that humanism and restoration thinking has to offer. That is to say, we should seek to foster the pursuit of common goods and rights.

At the same time, we ought to recoil from presuming to have the key to universality and from too firmly pressing our own fears into a dogmatic ideology, as evidenced in the Global War on Terror. Viewed this way, the authoritarian militarism that now often stands, nudging to make war, close to the heart of establishment politics in many Western countries finds a mirror image in militant jihadists, who do the same for Islam.
Appetite for Violence

Mohammed Tuaiman, a 13-year-old Yemeni boy, hounded by nightmares over fear of drones,

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Categories: Americas, The Muslim Times