Saturday, 19 January 2013


There was a great pair of cartoons in the period leading up to the invasion of Iraq. In both of them George Bush is standing in front of a map of the Middle East. In the first he points to Saudi Arabia and says 'Most of the terrorists who hit the Twin Towers came from here.' In the second he points to Iraq and says 'So we are going to attack here. I am not suggesting that the West should invade Saudi Arabia; but I wonder why we go out of our way to help the Saudi government, selling them arms from fighter jets to cattle prods. With their funding of madrasas all over the world they are the main exporters of so-called fundamentalist Islam 'Fundamentalist' is a ridiculous name for people who take sacred texts literally. They are not interested in the fundamental meaning underlying the words, nor in the importance of their context for interpreting them. In reality there is nothing to choose between literalist Muslims, Christians and Jews; they all believe that their own understanding of their favourite texts makes them absolutely right about whatever they do; God is on their side and anybody who stands in their way should be neutralized or even killed. This seems to be more particularly a problem of the Western religions. Has anybody heard of 'fundamentalist' Buddhists or Taoists? It sounds like a contradiction in terms. The book of LaoTse begins: 'The way that can be known is no absolute way'.

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