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Not so innocent

April 22, 2013

West Fertilizer Company failed to tell the DHS or or the EPA that it kept ammonium nitrate, as required by law. It had claimed to state regulators that its operations presented no risk of fire or explosion, only the possible leak of anhydrous ammonia.

This has been a challenging week for the media. But the NY Post slithered under its own low standards by falsely publishing photos of bystanders as alleged suspects in the Boston marathon bombing, and otherwise getting just about everything wrong.

By historical standards, Islam is not so different from many other religions, causing trouble in the modern world because it is so much the religion of the not yet modern parts. I am underwhelmed by Muslim leaders abjuring the acts of Muslim terrorists, or explaining that such acts represent a minute fraction of the world’s billions of Muslims. So what? Most of those leaders still are propagating some form of fundamentalism, an adherence to a scripture, whose words were captured by men they don’t know, selected by a political process centuries past, of an alleged prophet whose inspiration they have no way to test, claiming to speak for a god and his angels, for which we have zero evidence. The rationalist who would say “stop believing in stupid things” must remember that people are Sunni or fivers or twelvers or Catholics or Mormons or evangelist protestants largely because those beliefs are instilled at mother’s knee, along with what foods to eat and the right way to speak and dress. People who hold to a religion or ideology as a matter of faith can’t be expected to give it up just because occasional atrocities are committed in its name. That said, if religious leaders want to respond to extremists, it does no good to claim, falsely, that their actions are unrelated to their religion. What might make small headway is to work to reform their own religion, and to battle within it against the teachings that generate extremism. Less literalism, less fundamentalism, less condemnation of those outside the religion, less focus on the hereafter, less moral certainty.

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