This morning I read a post over at Momastery. It was a thought offered as a contemplation on the events that toppled the Twin Towers in New York, known to some of the world as 9/11. In the follow up discussion there emerged a few comments condemning Islam. I decided to offer my own thoughts with something I thought was missing from the conversation.
Here’s what I wrote as an added comment:
One of the major points being missed here as the evils or lack thereof of within Islam vs Christianity are discussed, is the nature of empire. It’s the undisclosed point that needs to be brought into the light here.
I’m not from the US, I was born and reside in New Zealand.
It’s easy to note the violence in the Qu’ran and condemn those who follow the way of violence with those parts of the text as the justification, it’s not so easy to critique the machinations of empire when one’s way of life is dependent on the way that empire operates.
This may be a hard truth to hear, but the US has undermined and continues to undermine democracy and freedom around the world in the pursuit of upholding US interests and the US way of life – or more appropriately, the Western way of life (New Zealand is a part of the empire of the Western life).
Look at 9/11 in Chile and see what that date means for Latin America. Check out the 1950′s in Iran and the toppling of democracy there and how that eventually led to the revolution of the 70s and current anti US sentiment in Iran. The US sponsored Saddam to go to war with Iran and he openly used chemical weapons to do so. Look at the group the US supported to fight Russia in Afghanistan when Russia invaded that nation. That group became Al-Qaeda and is currently active on the side the US is supporting in Syria – a group that became disillusioned with the US military presence in the Middle East and snowballed towards the attack on the Twin Towers. Look at the carpet bombing of Cambodia as the precursor to the Vietnam war that paved the way for the Khmer Rouge.
These are the actions of an empire protecting its power at all costs. The violence of the terrorists that hit the Twin Towers was direct, obvious and evil – but the evils of empire are no less evil. Rome did it, China has done it, the UK did it, the USSR did it, Russia does it and the hegemony of the West with the US as its champion does it. As Christians it is upon us not to simply point out the evils of the ‘other’, but more so to act as a prophetic voice towards the evils of the empire we find ourselves in. If we do not then our faith is simply co-opted as a tool of the empire to justify its actions.
To quote from above with a little twist – no other ideology on earth is more violent than that of unadulterated empire, no matter what it uses to justify its violence.
The anger of the Middle East and many other parts of the world has not been created in isolation. The root cause of the evil perpetrated is not the Qu’ran, it is simply fuel for the anger. The root cause is human greed and desire for power and control. It is this that drives the violence perpetrated against others not just by Muslim fundamentalists but all those who push down others to allow their own desires to triumph.
I appreciate the original post because it notes the nuance of humanity. It’s too easy to try and define categories of ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’ with all the justifications for those categories and then to look at the world through such a simplistic lens. We can’t afford to do that. Our faith demands much more from us and if we are to play our part in God’s story of the redemption and reconciliation of his whole creation, we can’t fall into that trap.