We discussed a news story over on the podcast a while ago, where we talked about Christian-on-Muslim violence and cannibalism in Africa and started talking about how to handle such things. I made some comments about just taking these people out who think that violence is a good thing and got some negative comments. Some people think that we, as atheists, ought to always take the high road no matter what the religious do.
Okay, I think that violence ought to be the very last thing that we resort to in any conflict and that’s regardless of our religious or irreligious natures. It shouldn’t be necessary for an advanced human species to resort to killing others in order to put forward a superior social system. I get it. However, we, as an advanced human species, shouldn’t believe in imaginary friends in the sky and, as a result of such beliefs, go around eating people in the streets, beheading members of other religions, molesting children, etc. These are things that we, as a species, should not permit, yet the Religious Horror Show proves that such ideas are rampant and widespread.
I’m not going to say anything about liberals or conservatives because the idea that we ought to take the moral high ground seems rampant on both sides. I agree, at least as far as it goes, but taking the moral high ground doesn’t solve the problem. You cannot debate with people who are unwilling to listen, this is a common problem with the religious. If they won’t listen to reason and they continue to act in a manner outside of social acceptability, what then? What do you do? Do you just sit back in your ivory towers and express your disapproval of their actions while they continue to kill innocents in the streets? Do we encourage the UN to issue vaguely critical statements against those who are totally out of control? How do we actually stop the people who are unwilling to stop on their own?
The answer, no matter how much some people don’t like it, is violence. Taking military action is a tried and true manner of getting things stopped when nothing else works. We went to war over slavery in the U.S. and put an end to it. We went to war against the Nazis and wiped them out. How much good had talking to either side done? None. How much good did taking action, even violent action do? Lots.
Today, we have a problem with some religions, they act to harm others first and foremost and don’t listen to reason. They don’t want to talk, they want to kill people. It’s part and parcel with their religious beliefs and those beliefs cannot be intelligently debated in any way. Therefore, they cause harm to people, what should we do? Sit back and watch or take action? We’ve tried all the genteel ways of making these people deal with reality. What next?
Given a perfect world, we’d never need to resort to violence but this isn’t a perfect world and people who think they can solve all problems with words simply have very unrealistic expectations. I don’t think we should swoop in with our bombers and our armed forces at the first sign of trouble, but there comes a time when force, even lethal force, is necessary to solve problems and save lives. Some people and some groups need to be taught a lesson that larger society simply will not tolerate their actions any further. They need to get slapped down hard because being slapped down hard is the only thing they respect. It’s a shame but it’s their fault, not ours, that they don’t listen to reason.
And so, while I didn’t mean to offend anyone by talking about violence, neither am I sorry that I did. Oh sure, a lot of what I did was hyperbole, extremism for extremism sake, done against extremists, I’d never actually advocate walking through the streets of Africa butchering anyone and everyone who admits to practicing witchcraft, but the violence is there and needs to be stopped, no matter how we need to do it. The same is true of some Muslims who need to be shown, once and for all, that their violent ways are unacceptable to the advanced world that surrounds them. The same is true of some fundamentalist Christian sects who practice and preach violence on others. The Buddhists in Myanmar is another example. Sectarian violence or violence against non-believers needs to stop and it needs to stop now. Talking hasn’t worked. What would people suggest if not a proper and decisive application of violence? How else can we stop these things from happening? I haven’t heard any realistic suggestions, have you?