Condemn the Muslim extremists
Organized religious extremism is a very low and dangerous form of life. Religious extremism is by its very nature a form of extreme power and control over gullible and ignorant people. Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and New Age all have had their extremists.
For a thousand years, extremists have left a trail of misery and often death. At certain times in their history, many of the major organized religions and their offshoots have allowed the extremists to gain control.
In modern times, Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism seem to be at peace with themselves and others. However, Islam today is being unduly influenced by its extremists and seems to be at war with all the nonbelievers. I attribute this to the vast oil money that has fallen into the hands of the most extreme and primitive Islamic movements out of Arabia. They have been able to recruit and influence otherwise peaceful Muslims to their extremist cause for a new Islamic Empire run by the mullahs and ayatollahs.
Iran featured itself as the leader of this new empire, but that may be changing as Western ideas are getting through to its youth. I do not believe that local dictators like Hussein (Iraq), Qadafi (Libya), or Asad (Syria) want any part of this worldwide movement. For the West, which subscribes to religious tolerance and separation of church and state, defending ourselves against these new zealots will prove very difficult. They are like the AIDS virus, using our very strength (our freedom and tolerance) against us. There will be no quick victory. The only long-range solution is holding on to the First Amendment dearly and keeping the information highways open. Military options may be necessary but will not offer long-term solutions. It takes a long time to open the eyes of confirmed religious zealots to any rationality or tolerance.
The unprovoked killing last week of 200 mostly Australian tourists in Bali for religious reasons has tarnished Muslims everywhere. Unlike the United States, Australia is not a major financial backer of Israel, does not have troops stationed in the Middle East, and is not in bed with the Royal Saudi family. I guess the very idea of Australians drinking beer, listening to music, women being in public without veils, and everyone generally having a good time was too much for the clerics. These twisted and ignorant minds felt the need to mass murder such infidels. The goal is to drive tourism from Indonesia and plunge the country into extreme poverty. This would facilitate an Islamic revolution and the setting up of a theocracy. Mainstream Muslims there had better take a close look at what the Taliban regime is all about before they make that plunge. It is time for peaceful, mainstream Muslims to wake up and publicly condemn the extremists who are hijacking their religion.
My year-long run as a monthly columnist is now up and it’s time for The Union to use my space for others’ opinions as the paper changes its format. Most of my columns have been political in nature and that means some level of controversy. I have appreciated the many phone calls over the last year commending my thoughts. I have tried to be a forthright and critical thinker. Although most view me as a conservative, I have embraced ideas from the entire political spectrum when I thought they contained logic and truth. I have never backed away from any controversy when I felt strongly about an issue, and “political correctness” is not in my vocabulary. I will, in the future, ask to submit an occasional “Other Voices” column and hope I will be accepted.
A recent survey by The Union identified that the most important reason people liked living in Nevada County was the people. I could not agree more. People are friendly here and care about one another. Citizens have been welcomed and have brought their hopes and dreams here for 150 years. That has made Nevada County what it is today. We have never been an “anti-people” county. I hope that never changes.
Final note: Waste and control have reached a new level at the county. A highly paid county bureaucrat spent the taxpayers’ money writing a report condemning Lake Wildwood’s choice of a new entry sign. Apparently this bureaucrat was upset that the sign was much smaller and not made out of wood. Could somebody over at the county hand this guy a bucket of asphalt and order him to do something useful, like filling a couple of potholes? What’s next? Is the county going to pick the colors of our cars?
Michael Schwalm, a resident of Penn Valley, writes a monthly column.
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