John at Americablog has a profound observation on the (alleged) difference between our religious fundamentalists and their religious fundamentalists (emphasis added):
One man's Islamic fundamentalist is another man's Christian fundamentalist
This photo in today's Washington Post of Islamic fundamentalist students rioting in Pakistan got me thinking about the difference between Islamic radicals and America's religious right. Both want to live in a theocratic state where they can force others to live under their own warped, hate-filled, minority version of an otherwise peaceful mainstream religion. And yes, the Islamic radicals are more violent than our Christian radicals, but only because our Christian radicals know that violence isn't acceptable in America. So they express their violence in their hearts, and their souls, and their politics. But at their core, they're no different. They hate all the same, and they'll happily bash with the power of a club or the power of the state. Both claim to represent the true God, both think they speak for all Muslims and all Christians, and neither does.
Exactly. Our fundamentalists love to sit around, sanctimoniously pointing out how they're not a bunch of raging, violent, hate-filled loons. However, one suspects that's simply because they can't get away with it here, and there would be consequences if they tried. But, every so often, the mask slips and the real extremist emerges and the consequences are ugly indeed.
No, our wingnuts are far more civilized and would never descend into that kind of violent madness. But, deep down, you have to suspect that they'd give it some serious consideration if they thought they could get away with it.
DEEP AFTERTHOUGHTS: In a funny way, beating up on people using the power of the state is even more insidious than outright violence. If someone hated you so much that they came at you with a baseball bat, you could at least defend yourself in a similar manner, and it might be a fair fight.
But why resort to violence when you can slowly and inexorably grind down those same people with the power of the state? Strip them of their rights, deny them housing based on their skin colour or sexual orientation, make it difficult or impossible for them to get and keep certain jobs, perpetually describe them in public forums as abominations, tell them they can't marry the person of their choice, criminalize their private behaviour, and on and on and depressingly on. And, all the while, defend your actions with flowery phrases like "freedom of speech" and "freedom of expression." After all, it allows you to keep your hands clean, doesn't it?
Yeah, that'll work. Violence might give you instant gratification, but there's nothing like slowly and permanently dehumanizing some demographic to give you that all-over warm, fuzzy feeling of religious satisfaction while still letting you attend all the classier dinner parties.
Or letting you hang out over here. Yeah, you can still do that, too.