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The Christian Terrorists Amongst Us

Leonard Pitts

Leonard Pitts

A very interesting piece from Leonard Pitts about double standards and the reality of Christian fundamentalists willing to resort to violence in our country.

Yes, there are Christian Terrorists Among Us

A few words about Christian terrorism.

And I suppose the first words should be about “those” words: “Christian terrorism.” The term will seem jarring to those who have grown comfortable regarding terrorism as something exclusive to Islam.

That this is a self-deluding fallacy should have long since been apparent to anyone who’s been paying attention. From Eric Rudolph’s bombing of the Atlanta Olympics, a gay nightclub and two abortion clinics to the so-called Phineas Priests, who bombed banks, a newspaper and a Planned Parenthood Office in Spokane, Wash., from Matt Hale soliciting the murder of a federal judge in Chicago to Scott Roeder’s assassination of abortion provider Dr. George Tiller to brothers Matthew and Tyler Williams murdering a gay couple near Redding, we have seen no shortage of “Christians” who believe Jesus requires — or at least allows — them to commit murder.

If federal officials are correct, we now have one more name to add to the dishonor roll. That name would be Hutaree, a self-styled Christian militia in Michigan, nine members of which have been arrested and accused of plotting to kill police officers in hopes of sparking an anti-government uprising.

Many of us would doubtless resist referring to plots like this as Christian terrorism, feeling it unfair to tar the great body of Christendom with the actions of its fringe radicals. And here, we will pause for Muslim readers to clear their throats loudly.

While they do, let the rest of us note that there is a larger moral to this story, and it has less to do with terminologies than similarities.

We are conditioned to think of terror wrought by Islamic fundamentalists as something strange and alien and other. It is the violence of men with long beards who jabber in weird languages and kill for mysterious reasons while worshiping God in ways that seem outlandish to middle-American sensibilities. And whatever quirk of nature or deficiency of humanity it is that allows them to do what they do, is, we think, unique. There is, we are pleased to believe, a hard, immutable line between us and Them.

Then you consider Hutaree and its alleged plan to kill in the name of God, and the idea of some innate, saving difference between us and those bearded others in other places begins to feel like a fiction we conjured to help us sleep at night.

“Preparing for the end time battles to keep the testimony of Jesus Christ alive,” it says on Hutaree’s Web site. And you wonder: Who is this Jesus they worship and in what Bible is he found? Why does he bear so little resemblance to the Jesus others find in their Bibles, the one who said that if someone hits you on your right cheek, offer him your left, the one who said if someone forces you to go one mile with him, go two?

Why does their Jesus need the help of men in camo fatigues with guns and bombs? In this, he is much like the Allah for whom certain Muslims blow up marketplaces and crowded buses. Muslim and American terrorists, it seems, both apparently serve a puny and impotent God who can’t do anything without their help.

Sometimes, I think the only thing that keeps us from becoming, say, Afghanistan, is a strong central government and a diverse population with a robust tradition of free speech. The idea that there is something more is a conceit that blows apart like confetti every time there is, as there is now, a sense of cultural dislocation and economic uncertainty. That combination unfailingly moves people out to the fringes, where they seek out scapegoats and embrace that feeble God. And watching, you can’t help but realize the troubling truth about that line between “us” and “them.”

It’s thinner than you think.

Leonard Pitts Jr. is a columnist for the Miami Herald.

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  • Sir David ( Illuminati membership number 5:32) Warning Contains Irony

    And the prize for weirdest post of the week goes to … Leopoldo Borner

  • Leopoldo Borner

    When I was growing up, Saturday didn’t BEGIN until “Soul Train” came around the air! I not really know what personal hell drove you to take your own personal life, Brother Don, but know that you were–and always will be–loved and revered inside my house FOREVER! Love, Peace, and SOUL!

  • Ron Breen

    The simple fact of the matter is that there is no more a Christian Terrorist than there is a Jewish Terrorist or a Shinto, Buhdist, Islamic or atheist Terrorist. Every religion and secular idealogy espouses peaceful co-existence. The ACTUAL terrorists that we see on the world stage are sick individuals who have twisted their respective religious and secular writings to support their own insane desire for 15 seconds of fame. They (terrorists) are all absolutely crazy, and THEY have no special blessing from GOD (or from “no being” — for the atheists – a religious group unto itself – I digress)

    The Plan (if terrorists are cooperative): Find terrorists, arrest terrorists, incarcerate terrorests.

    The Plan (if terrorists are NOT cooperative): Find terrorists, make them dissapear.

    Humanity deserves to rid itself of hateful killers. It is what it is. Either control terrorists or suffer the consequences.

  • rollin

    Loonwatch? I think I clicked upon Loon Central from most of the Christian bashing going on here. This must be where Tavis Smiley comes to do his liberal loon Christian hater research. Does the Saud family pay the overhead? Or is it paid by American haters right here at home.

    That’s all, folks………….go suck an egg.

  • Cagliostro

    Except I repeatedly used words like “Christian terrorists” in this discussion, so I’m not guilty of a double standard.

  • Lena Rose

    Cagliostro Says:
    April 12th, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    “@Lena

    “How on earth is that a double standard? Bombing and terrorism are synonymous.”

    Sorry for my late response — I forgot to check back to this thread.

    My point was not whether you said “bombing” or “terrorism,” it was that you called one violent act “Islamic” but did not call a similar violent act “Christian.” That is the double standard.

  • Hey, you named Cagliostro, Barry Lyndon, Cassidy, and whatever else you call yourself here, you said:

    “They end up establishing regimes because theocracies – no matter what religion – will always be oppressive.”

    The Caliphate, the most enlightened theocracy (even the West acknowledges that) got it’s inspiration directly from Religious Law in this Sharia, Quran and Hadith.

    What is oppressive is how the men in power choose to abuse the laws for their own power.

    Don’t even think of coming back with more of your atheist promoting nonsense, i’d wipe the floor with you, if that were the subject but as usual you’re here to divert and lead peopler astray.

    GET YOUR SORRY ASS OUT OF HERE IF YOU CANNOT STAY ON TOPIC.

  • Truth Hurts

    @ Cagliostro
    Re: April 10th, 2010 at 10:02 pm I ask –

    “A- Which dictatorship supplies Islamic terrorists with resources/weapons in the US?”

    April 11th, 2010 at 8:47 pm You answer –

    “I was thinking more about hamas being supplied with weapons by Iran; Christian terrorists don’t anything like those resources.”

    Even the first question is not answered, this is the typical distorting effect of wearing of Loooony lenses!

    “in the US” if you did not read it the first time round, or the second time when you quoted my question, LET alone reading the article bearing the title “The Christian Terrorists Amongst Us”.

    Hamas? Iran?

  • Cagliostro

    For the second time they’re not anarchists; they haven’t issued any statements denouncing every single type of government or authority, as I stated before they would reject the ideology since it’s a western point of view. I don’t think you understand what anarchism actually is.

  • Robaby
  • Cagliostro

    “it was about nationalism and even the former foreign minister of Israel Tzipi Livni says it is a nationalistic not a religious conflict.”

    I didn’t say it was only about religion; if you read my post you will note that I wrote that the cause is popular because they can’t stand the idea of a powerful Jewish state in the Middle East.

    “And do you honestly think Saudi Arabia has a strong military?”

    I admit I’m not familiar with the saudi military; I just assumed that an oil rich dictatorship would have a strong army.

    “As for anarchism, members of al qeada are anarchists”

    Wrong, there isn’t a single al-qaeda statement that’s remotely anarchistic; they are a heavily authoritarian organization and they would no doubt reject anarchism because it is a western ideology.

    “They offer people nothing but anarchy.”

    You clearly don’t understand what anarchism actually is; have any al-qaeda members condemned governments and authority in general (which would obviously include Islamic law)? Of course not.

  • Robaby

    Cagliostro, the Palestinian issue is popular because East Jerusalem is holy to Muslims and because Palestinian were expelled all over the Arab nations. Moreover, even before muslim groups like Hamas and Al Qeada was formed in the 80s, the largely secular and socialist Arab regimes and PLO were fighting Israel and I gaurantee you it was not to establish a caliphate, it was about nationalism and even the former foreign minister of Israel Tzipi Livni says it is a nationalistic not a religious conflict.

    And do you honestly think Saudi Arabia has a strong military? Why then did the US have to come to their rescue in the Gulf war? Why is the US doing it again today, to counter the Iranian threat? If Saudi Arabia has a strong military surely they can handle Iran with their F-16s compared to Iran’s F-14s.

    As for anarchism, members of al qeada are anarchists, because they don’t even seem to want to have an islamic state because they are constantly just killing people and killing each other and declaring muslims as non-muslims whenever it suits them. They need war and choas to survive. In Iraq they just blow things up to try to create choas and anarchy especially when they instigated the secterian violence. They offer people nothing but anarchy. That’s why Hamas and muslim brotherhood and even some muslim extremists have distanced themselves for them.

  • George Carty

    @Cagliostro: “do you really think that wealthy regimes such as saudi arabia have a weak military?”
    Actually the Saudi military is weak, because it has been deliberately kept that way by the ruling family for fear of a coup. Any army which is good at advancing against the enemy is also capable of overthrowing an oppressive regime back home.

    And it’s not just the Saudis either.

    Did you know that one of the reasons why the 1967 Israeli pre-emptive strike against the Egyptian Air Force was so successful was because the Egyptian radar was switched off? The reason the radar was switched off was becase Nasser’s regime were more afraid of Muslim Brotherhood sympathizers in the military (who they feared would attempt to shoot down the Defense Minister’s plane) than they were of the Israelis!

    And more recently, what about the way Saddam Hussein murdered most of his best generals during the war with Iran, because of his paranoia about coup plots?

  • Les

    @cagliostro/hellboy/Barry/Cassidy

    “the palestinian cause isn’t popular because of human rights, if that was the cause surely they would be also fighting for human rights in their own countries?”

    Um… the Palestinian cause is almost entirely based on human rights. And pro-Palestinian activists also fight for human rights “in their own countries”.

    “It’s popular because they can’t stand the idea of a powerful non-Muslim country in the Middle East, it’s an obstacle to restoring a caliphate.”

    LOL restoring the caliphate? Good luck with that one. That’s really the issue here. You do know Saudi Arabia would have to be dealt with too in order to restore the caliphate? The majority want Palestine liberated from Zionist rule and oppression. The caliphate is a ruse.

    “Your attempt to paint Israel as being the bad guy and Muslim states as being the underdogs is absurd;”

    How’s that? Israel has a modern military funded by the US and it is a nuclear state. Yes, Israel is the bad guy. Deal with it.

    “do you really think that wealthy regimes such as saudi arabia have a weak military?”

    You’re seriously comparing a US client oil state with Israel?

  • Cagliostro

    @Robaby

    What nonsense, of course wealthy Muslims aren’t oppressed; the palestinian cause isn’t popular because of human rights, if that was the cause surely they would be also fighting for human rights in their own countries? It’s popular because they can’t stand the idea of a powerful non-Muslim country in the Middle East, it’s an obstacle to restoring a caliphate. Your attempt to paint Israel as being the bad guy and Muslim states as being the underdogs is absurd; do you really think that wealthy regimes such as saudi arabia have a weak military? I have yet to hear of a single middle eastern terrorist who believes in anarchism or anything remotely resembling freedom. They end up establishing regimes because theocracies – no matter what religion – will always be oppressive.

  • Cagliostro

    Also I don’t think that a Muslim majority country would be a hellhole; Bosnia is mostly Muslim and it’s tolerant, modern and maintained a good human rights record even in the face of genocide.

  • Cagliostro

    @Hassan

    It’s true that some terrorist groups do have legit gripes; the MEK is certainly correct that the Iranian regime should be overthrown, however their goal is to set up another brutal regime, not exactly a just cause. If any Muslim suffering under a secular state thinks that a theocracy is the solution that person is deluded; an Islamic government like all theocracies can only cause misery.

  • Robaby

    Cagliostro, Hassan’s point is correct, because even if you come from a wealthy background doesn’t mean you can’t be oppressed. Maybe they are wealthy because their parents were conformists and cooperated with the dictatorial regimes of the Arab nations. These rich extremists see how they can’t stop the oppression of Muslims in Palestine with their money and their money becomes worthless. They see how the Jewish people have a mighty military and thermonuclear weapons and intermediate range ballistic missiles(IRBMs) and ICBMs as well as Nuclear Submarines in Israel and Christians have a mighty military and thermonuclear weapons IRBMs and ICBMs as well as Nuclear Submarines in America(even if both these countries say they are secular). But Muslims have at most a country such as Pakistan with tactical nukes with limited range. Thus Christian and Jewish extremists can mouth off and threaten Mecca and Medina and many Muslim cities with destruction and Muslims can’t do anything in response and are punished with war for trying to get powerful even if it just defensive weapons(i.e. Iraq). This is the current reality in the Middle East. One can even see how although Iran possess no existential threat to Israel(even according to Defense minister Ehud Barak) while Israel does pose an existential threat to Iran and refuses to sign the non-proliferation treaty and continues to get more powerful, all attention is focused on Iran as if they are the second coming of the Nazis and Ahmedinejad is Hitler. How ridiculous can one be? Moreover, many of these Muslim extremists are just planning for war and not for governing, and many are anarchists, so when they end up actually establishing a regime they have no idea how to rule and their regimes become oppressive because they believe they are at a constant state of war.

  • Hassan

    There are REAL grievances out there, and there is REAL oppression by these governments. But some people are so stuck on the ridiculous notion that Muslim-majority countries are just supposed to be that way. Just like blacks are supposed to be poor and fatherless, and White nations are supposed to be 1st world and ethical. These outcomes are the result of historical accident, and wherever you see these poor results, you’ll also find that people desperately seek any promising form of change. In this case, the ideal hypothetical Islamic state is the default automatic goal for Muslims suffering under incompetent and brutal secular regimes.

    A good example is the incompetence and unwillingness to act on the part of the Lebanese military. 1000 Lebanese citizens were killed, and every airport and bridge in Lebanon destroyed, in that ridiculous attack Israel committed a while back. It wasn’t just “Hezbollah areas”, it was all over the country, crippling it’s infrastructure.

    And the entire time, you heard not ONE word about the lebanese military or government saying ANYTHING. This sends a very loud message to the Muslim world: the government of Lebanon is unwilling to respond to direct attacks and demands nothing in recompense for the 1000 civilians killed. Hezbollah is essentially the only legitimate leadership in Lebanon.

  • Hassan

    Obviously, Cagliostro, you have no idea what the Middle-east is like. Every western-backed nation in the Middle-east is a repressive regime, and the “terrorist groups” are motivated more by idealism than nihilism. Islam is less influential in those governments than Christianity is in the American government. Muslim terrorist groups are not actively campaigning for ‘oppressive regimes’, or really anything concrete. But they are campaigning *against* oppressive regimes that currently exist.

    Your assumption makes as much sense as me saying Teapartiers want to turn America into a neo-nazi hillbilly state so they can kick out the blacks and nuke Mecca. A lot of people believe that, but it presumes too much. Like the teapartiers, these groups are defined by the regimes they are *against*, not by any actual ideas of their own.

    And despite the wealth of some terrorists, there’s such a thing as empathy and nationalism in people that ties those who’ve “made it” to those of them that haven’t. And it’s not about wealth or poverty anyway, it’s about the very real oppression in the form of these dictatorships America sponsors and protects, as well as the oppression felt by Muslims in war-torn regions.

    My example with America and China wasn’t accidental- Americans feel like ONE PEOPLE, sharing a language and culture. If someone tears us into 50 countries through invasion, puts dictators over them, and then re-invades or starves out one of these states, do you think Americans really wouldn’t care? When the dictatorship in whatever former-US state you live in allows you to gain an education, or gives you wealth, are you really going to overlook the military, economic, and political oppression and victimization of Americans in other former-US states? Perhaps you would, but many would not.

    Poor and uneducated people don’t take initiative as often as educated and wealthy people. That’s simply how humanity works. It takes a certain level of political and philosophical awareness to plot and carry out ideologically-driven attacks.

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