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Colin Bettis

Flight Test Engineer, United States Air Force

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Western Extremism On the Rise?

Citing recent attacks in Norway, irrational Islamophobes such as Pastor Terry Jones whose influence single-handedly cost lives around the world, and the ever increasing melting-pot that are our societies, are these events of anti-islam, antiforeignism rare occurring acts throughout society, or an increasing trend within areas that years ago used to be dominated only by white, Christian societies?

Thoughts? Opinions?

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    Jul 29 2011: I have no doubt in my mind that the views being promoted by select groups throughout the Bible belt are just as extremist as those being taught by jihadist groups throughout the middle east.
    Most don't recognize the frightening similarities shared western the anti-foreignism and its more over exposed relative over seas. Freedom of speech is always a messy topic, but I sincerely believe that people like Terry Jones should be held accountable for what they say. How long until something like Norway happens over here in the west?
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      Aug 6 2011: Good thoughts Connor - Though one small correction - Norway is a part of western civilization. Maybe you meant "far" west....
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    Aug 8 2011: Another question on my mind, since terrorism can be defined as "the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.", is there a level of extremism solely based on inciting fear through propaganda and ideals, that can still be considered terrorism? That one could be prosicuted for? This is more of what a friend of mine would describe as an "Intellectual Terrorist". My arguing is that there are individuals, groups, etc. throughout every country in the world, as well as ours, who use words to incite fear rather than weapons against other races, religions, lifestyles, etc. and direct them towards the most vulnerable individuals, the lower class. Is there a point where they could be classified at terrorists, or would this be immoral, unconstitutional, etc.?
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    Aug 6 2011: In another conversation there was mention of the fact that Americans have a reputation for being rather ignorant and intolerant of other cultures and I believe that's true.

    But then I thought more about it and realized that the entire human race has propensity to war, to discriminate unfairly, to hold biases, prejudices, etc. etc. and that it may very well be genetic. Those of us who have learned to be tolerant, inclusive, open-minded, thoughtful, etc. of other people, nationalities, cultures, religions, are that way because of our efforts to become something more than just prisoners of our genes. We are cultured. We are civilized. We are advanced.

    Sounds elitist, but it might just be true...
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    Aug 6 2011: Zenophobia is not exclusive to the western world. It is a common human condition even more commonly practiced in the rest of the world. While we in North America prize inclusivity very highly it is not as highly valued in other areas of the world- hence some of the sectarian violence. I think there is a huge difference between fearing all of the people of a particular religious view and fearing what is a genuine danger represented by a percentage of that faith. It is tough to separate the wheat from the chaff in every religion. It is not surprising that many nations - Islamic and otherwise fear Christian ideologies given what has been done in their name. Why should it be surprising thst people who fear what has been done in the name of Islam?

    All people of peace should be welcomed and loved. All people of violence deserve to be shunned. The trouble is in separating the talk from the walk. I do see a growing isolationism fomenting in the west but maybe it is time for people to take care of business at home before going abroad to right the wrongs of other nations? That includes the almost criminal use of the press to communicate the poisons of people like Terry Jones.
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    Aug 6 2011: Hi, Eng./Colin
    that's what I hinted about in the conversation Time to end islamophobia

    http://www.ted.com/conversations/4640/time_to_end_the_islamophbia_wh.html?c=298179

    In my point of view
    there are two big reasons : ignorance about islam,what western governments do to support their policy,wars in islamic countries as they don't want to loose the people support.
  • Aug 4 2011: Yes, it does seem to be back on the rise. But if one takes out political terrorism from the equation we are left, however unformfortable the notion might be, with a specific phenomenon - cultures based on Germanic-family languages being the centre of white-ethnic extremism. Norway, the EDL in England (and I use the term precisely), the US, neo-fascist groups in Germany, Austria and the Netherlands.

    Why is this? What exactly is going on? Any observations or suggestions?

    We need to look at this not as a localised issue in some parts of the US. This would, I believe, be a grave mistake.
  • Aug 4 2011: Yes what you say is undboubtably fact. Now the question is what do we do about it?
    I like to ask the question why does extremism exist? I am no expert on U.S.-Arab relations but I think the reasons are economic, religious, cultural, and ideological. Christian extremists don't realize that they are a prime example of exactly what they don't like about extremist Muslims. Both sides argue that there is a God. Which is possible, but this "God" is characterized by each culture in a culturally-tailored way. In other words we invented this God in our heads. No doubt, there certainly is a full account of all the secrets of the universe and why/how we as humans got here, but as science has uncovered since the Bible and Quaran were written, those books do not have said secrets. They have good stories that sound appealing to us and CLAIM to give you all the secrets of the universe if you just simply believe the words on the page. Well isn't that convinent. That might actually work if we didn't have 5 million differing opinions on this topic and thus the solution becomes clear. People who are all separately convinced on the validity of preposterous claims of spiritual grandeur by various prophets throughout history are going to get set in their ways and start fighting when there is a disagreement. SOLUTION: stop trying to believe convinent fairy tales and go get a degree in physics, engineering, cosmology, sociology, biochemistry, materials science, neuroscience, biomedical sciences, or anything else that will help our understanding of the universe from a FACTUAL standpoint rather than a culturally polarized SPECULATIVE standpoint. Do we all agree the Earth is a sphere yet? Well if we don't we should. Cuz its a damn sphere and I'm sorry for your soul if we need to argue about that. But that's basically how far I feel like I need to go with some of the Christians I talk to. It's like they have no ability to reason. At all, we need help coming together. Science is the way to go.
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      Aug 6 2011: I think you take your argument too far and make generalizations that no religious believer knows anything about science.

      Science is a kind of knowledge, while religion is lifestyle.
      Do you really believe that if people stopped having faiths and got degrees in physics, that extremism would disappear?
      Aside all the religious extremism, there are also social/political segregations and racial disparities that advocate extreme views. You sound rather disproving of human/cultural diversity, when I think that is something we need to be absolutely grateful for.

      It's unfortunate that varying beliefs have begotten extremist fights, but your solution of abandoning faiths altogether sounds pretty ridiculous. Do you suggest that we get rid of market economy since there would always be victims of failed business? With freedom, there is always going to be an unexpected outcome. What we need to focus on is how to minimize the impact of these adversities and help those who have been unfairly striked by them.
      • Aug 6 2011: Well although I may have sounded like that I don't think cultural diversity is a bad thing. In fact I am one of the biggest proponents of equalizing the global economy so that all cultures beliefs and lifestyles can exist in equality and without the fear of being trampled by a wealthier or more dominant culture. What I am saying is that at this point the "culturalists" are all taking their individual ideals too far. Whenever someone has an idea they naturally want to spread it to the world and try to subdue all differing opinions and that's what I want to end. I want to draw not just geographical borders but intellectual borders so that we can not only live in peace but also think in peace. And right now I just feel like everyone is totally and utterly abusing their right to free thinking by letting their ideological frustration turn into violence. Don't get me wrong though I hold my country, The United States of America, fully and completely responsible for 99.99999% of all the world's fighting and if I were able to assume the presidency for one day I would attempt to completely dismantle the entire US Military in one day before getting impeached. Someone has to take the first step to ending this cycle of violence and I think it should be us.
        At that point we can celebrate and promote religion even though I feel like they are just fairy tales to help us deal with the inability to grasp the cosmic perspective. Believe me, I find all different types of Religious faiths to be fascinating and many of which inspire me greatly and I want to make sure everyone can believe what truly inspires them and helps them feel like they have a place in the universe. For me that happens to be mathematics but I am fully aware that others need a more emotionally based theory of life to help them get through their lives. However I won't tolerate religious friction that turns into violence and gets people killed and wastes money. In the end, they are just stories, no one needs to die.
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          Aug 7 2011: You sound a lot more flexible than you did last time.
          But I still hear a lot of hasty generalization and nonsequitur arguments.
          I think you need to be careful when describing a group of people, because you tend to use a lot of "everyone," "all," "always," and other hyperboles - quite ironical for someone who is so against extremism.

          And here are some questions:
          1. Do you really think we're living in "peace" with geographical borders?

          2. Do you think drawing "intellectual borders" would help us "think in peace"? How do you define "intellectual borders"? What does "thinking in peace" really mean?

          3. Your arguments contain various contradicting ideas which confuse me. I get that you believe religious faiths are "fairytales." And previously, you said, "stop trying to believe convinent fairy tales." But here, you say, " I want to make sure everyone can believe what truly inspires them and helps them feel like they have a place in the universe." What do you really think about religion?

          I don't think you're "fully aware" of others' needs and perspectives as much as you claim to be. As I've mentioned earlier, with freedom of belief, there WILL be unexpected adversities. While you claim to respect the others' faiths, you say, "I won't tolerate religious friction" which is a natural consequence of coexisting varying beliefs.

          "In the end, they are just stories, no one needs to die."
          OF COURSE no one needs to die. No one needs to die for ANYTHING. But the reality is that people die for money, status, power, and many many other things that they don't need to die for.

          And I repeat. They are not just stories for some. They are truths. They are life.
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    Aug 2 2011: In my opinion western extremism has never dropped. It may have slept in low profile for a while but its roots are so strong that, you cant wipe out racism out of Europe. If we look deeply into the paths of history, we can see that Jews and Muslims were consecutively harmed by christian extremists. And as the time goes by this christian extremism turned its scope to Christians with different views. I am not blaming the church or pope here. I dont even blame extremists like Wilders and Haider because they represent the hatred that is already grown in society they are not the cause of it. And in turkey where I live a different kind of extremism is called nationalist modernism ( which is not modern) is planted now.
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    Aug 1 2011: This western extremism is really on the rise in my opinion but we should have expected at that , it is a normal reaction to the islamic extremism and other kinds of extremism which hit us in the last decades .
    Knights templars , crusades .......... the same thing happened then , the same thing happen now , we are the same people in this terms.
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    Jul 29 2011: i wouldnt say its rising, these groups have been killing for thousands of years.
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    Jul 29 2011: It almost happened this week again at Fort Hood. An American born Jihaddist was about to strike various locations in Kileen with fire power. Ya nevah know.