The late, great historian Richard Hofstadter added further insight into just the type of “movement” we’re dealing with, in his 1964 award-winning tome, “The Paranoid Style of American Politics”. In it, he outlines the psychological origins of the type of crazed, Tea-bagger style of all-or-nothing dedication to an absolute end, when he wrote of their forebears:Towards the beginning of the original Terminator film, Kyle Reese, who has come back to the past to save Sarah Connor – whose spawn will save mankind – lets her know what she’s facing in her new cybernetic stalker. “Listen, and understand. That terminator is out there. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.”
Senator Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon slammed today his Barisan Nasional (BN) colleague Umno Senator Ezam Mohd Nor’s threat to wage war against those who try to proselytise Muslims.
The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in National Unity and Performance Management said in a statement that Ezam’s threats had sent out the wrong message and could damage the coalition’s reputation.
“Senator Ezam Nor’s open threat to burn two online news portals (Malaysia Kini and Malaysian Insider) is uncalled for, unwarranted and unacceptable, further fanning emotions in the controversy arising out of JAIS’ (Selangor Islamic Affairs Department) action against DUMC (Damansara Utama Methodist Church),” Koh (picture) said.
The Gerakan party president said Ezam has his right to express his views about defending Islam and his concern about alleged proselytisation of Muslims which is now being investigated.
“If he thinks that reports in the online news portals were not correct and proper, he should present cogent arguments against them, present relevant facts and solid evidence, or even take legal action.
“Unfortunately, instead of using his intellect and influence to argue and counter whatever he did not agree with, he allowed himself to be overtaken by emotions and sentiments which have evoked negative reaction of others,” Koh said.
Ezam vowed yesterday to wage war against those who try to proselytise Muslims, in a highly-charged assembly where he also defended the state Islamic religious authorities’ raid on a dinner at a church last week.
The former PKR leader and a group of demonstrators rallied after Friday prayers here in support of the Jais over its raid at the DUMC in Petaling Jaya on August 3. Among those present was Kulim MP Zulkifli Noordin.
“Those who are rude to Islam, Allah, Quran, we have no choice but to wage a war to defend our religion,” Ezam told the crowd under the newly-organised Gerakan Cegah Murtad group.
Ezam also warned the media of what he described as false reporting against Islam, citing Malaysiakini and The Malaysian Insider.
“If you don’t stop all this rubbish, we will go and burn you down,” he threatened the online news portals.
Ezam said the issue was not with religion itself.
“We have problems with those who insult our religion and try to proselytise Muslims, We have problems with Muslims themselves, who insult our religion and support the proselytising of Muslims,” he said.
By issuing such threats of violence, Koh said Ezam has gone “overboard”, and damaged, not only his own image as a senator but also that of the organisations he represents.
Does European Christendom need Christianity to survive?Does European Christendom need Christianity to survive?
“Malaysians have been known for our commitment to and practice of moderation, inclusiveness, social cohesion and harmony. 1Malaysia as promoted by our prime minister is meant to further enhance this commitment and to promote understanding and unity.
It may seen an odd question for a religious culture that once stretched from Britain to the Bosphorus, born of a deep and diffuse faith that inspired great cathedrals and monasteries and filled them with believers for centuries.
But when right-wing extremist Anders Breivik killed 77 people in a horrific rampage in Norway last month, he highlighted a novel development in the history of the West: a burgeoning alliance between believers and nonbelievers to promote Europe’s Christian identity.
“European Christendom and the cross will be the symbol in which every cultural conservative can unite under in our common defense,” Breivik wrote in his rambling 1,500-page manifesto. “It should serve as the uniting symbol for all Europeans whether they are agnostic or atheists.”
In fact, that’s been the case for any number of unbelievers for more than a decade.
One prominent example was the Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci, who spent her last years before her death in 2006 inveighing against a Muslim influx that was turning the continent into what she called “Eurabia.”
Fallaci liked to describe herself as a “Christian atheist” — an interesting turn of phrase — because she thought Christianity provided Europe with a cultural and intellectual bulwark against Islam.
There’s also Scottish-born historian and political conservative Niall Ferguson, who calls himself “an incurable atheist” but is also a vocal champion for restoring Christendom because, as he puts it, there isn’t sufficient “religious resistance” in the West to radical Islam.
(Ferguson dedicated his latest book, “Civilization: The West and the Rest
,” to his new partner, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-born Dutch atheist who has promoted the values of Christianity over those of her native Islam.)
The modern-day crusade for Christendom by nonbelievers tends to be rooted in fears about Muslim immigration, but it’s also fueled by worries about the deterioration of European culture — and nostalgia for the continent’s once central place in world affairs.
For some atheists, retaining European identity is reason enough to set aside long-standing enmity between churches and nonbelievers that dates back to the secularism of the Enlightenment and the anti-clericalism of the French Revolution.
And unlike the persistent sniping between atheists and believers in the U.S., Europe’s nonreligious conservatives have found ready allies in the continent’s religious leaders — most notably Pope Benedict XVI.
Even before he was elected pope in April 2005, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was spearheading the Vatican effort, however unsuccessful, to have the European Union’s new constitution recognize the continent’s Christian heritage. He also rejected the idea of allowing Muslim Turkey into the EU. “Europe is a cultural continent,” he told a French magazine, “not a geographical one.”
As pope, Benedict eventually softened his opposition to Turkey’s entry into the EU but continued to insist that Europe’s Christian culture must be protected, even as religious belief among Europeans declined.
In August 2005, just a few months after his election as pope, Benedict met secretly with Fallaci, news that upset Muslims when it leaked out. Muslims were even angrier at the pontiff’s controversial speech a year later in Regensburg, Germany, when he depicted Islam as prone to violence and alien to Christian Europe.
“Attempts at the ‘Islamification’ of the West cannot be denied,” Benedict’s closest aide, Monsignor Georg Ganswein, said in a 2007 interview. “And the associated danger for the identity of Europe cannot be ignored out of a wrongly understood sense of respect.”
“The Catholic side sees this clearly,” he added, “and says as much.”
But some atheists see this as well, and are equally happy to say so.
One of Christendom’s most prominent atheist advocates is the Italian philosopher and politician Marcello Pera. In 2004, he delivered a series of lectures with then-Cardinal Ratzinger that set out their shared view of the need to restore Christian identity in Europe in order to battle both Islam and moral degeneration.
Later, Benedict wrote a forward to Pera’s book, “Why We Must Call Ourselves Christians
,” which promotes Benedict’s argument that Western civilization can be saved if people live “as if God exists,” whether they believe that or not.
It’s not a new argument — 17th-century French philosopher Blaise Pascal held that even if God’s existence cannot be proved, people ought to act as though God exists because they have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
But the updated version seems to be winning some converts. In a landmark ruling last March, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Italy could continue to display crucifixes in public school classrooms because the cross with Jesus on it is a “historical and cultural” symbol rather than a religious one.
While the Vatican welcomed that decision, others wonder whether the cost was too high — essentially emptying a container of its meaning in order to preserve the cultural form.
And an empty container, no matter how attractive on the outside, can be filled with all manner of beliefs on the inside.
“In the spirit of 1Malaysia, leaders must talk and act with a strong sense of responsibility and restraint and help to resolve any inter-ethnic and inter-religious misunderstanding, controversy or conflict, but not to add more fuel to the fire,” Koh said.