By Robert A. Vella
The recent terror attack in Nice, France – the latest in a worsening trend – has understandably generated tremendous outrage against Muslims. The target, an incredibly beautiful and peaceful vacation resort which I remember fondly, made the attack even more unfathomable and unpalatable. In the atheist community, reactions have focused primarily on blaming the precepts of Islam – specifically, its violent expressions of jihad or “holy war” against its perceived enemies. A now-deleted opinion post by a fellow WordPress blogger had provided an illustrative example of this outrage as well as poignantly revealing debates in the comment section.
Anyway, my message is this:
The real world is not simply black-and-white. Close examination exposes varying shades of grey and color. Subjective generalizations are almost always wrong because they are too easy. The much more difficult nuances of methodical, objective analysis are superior means of understanding.
I abhor institutionalized religion as much as you do, and believe it to be responsible for great harm. However, the circumstances causing Islamist-inspired terrorism in the world today go far beyond that theistic influence. Religion can and does exploit susceptible minds reeling from misery, but its success is wholly dependent upon opportunism. Educated, prosperous people are generally immune from its devices.
The bulk of the populations in the Middle East are terribly uneducated and poor. Their countries have been abused by internal tyrants and external powers. They are mad as hell and are striking out any way they can. You would too if it was your children, your family, your friends, and your neighbors so aggrieved.
I suggest becoming more familiar with human psychology, group dynamics, sociology, politics, and the history of the Middle East; that is, if you really want to understand this ongoing tragedy and its escalating extent. The history of Palestine is a good place to start. Before the onset of oil exploration, WWI, WWII, and the establishment of Israel as an internationally-recognized nation, Palestine was a sleepy backwater land where Jews, Christians, and Muslims of all sects got along rather peaceably. Why? Did not radical Islam exist back then too? What really triggered this momentous change?