Friday, October 12, 2012

This Isn’t About A Clash of Cultures – It is About Human Freedom

Sadly, we’ve seen the results of yet another attack on our basic human freedom to think and write in opposition to conservative faith. Ever more radical members of the already radical Taliban decided that a 14-year-old girl’s blog, in which she wrote about the plight of girls living under religious oppression and who called for the right for herself and all girls to receive a formal education, was gunned down on her way from school. So infuriated was the group by her writings that they decided it was best to assassinate the child for speaking her mind.  Her ultimate crime, according to the Taliban, was “Acting too Western.”
These acts of violence, which are meant to curtail one’s right to think, write or to speak freely are warnings directed at not just the perpetrator of the expression, but also towards any and all of those who may want to express the same or similar sentiments. 
I often wonder why those on the religious political left, who are so concerned about Western intrusion into world affairs and “social justice” appear to be vacant about calling out those who kill innocents in the name of their faith.  What these religious leftists in their morally relativistic world ultimately do is condemn the world to more religious violence because of their appeasement and complicit silence.
Those who are in the secular media, or brave politicians and activists from multiple nations who do their work with clarity, and even those who may have religious faith but who are willing to take a stand to prevent religious violence and intimidation deserve our respect and support. Clearly, the world is horrified when children are shot in the head – gunned down for the crime of free thought. 
But sadly, such abhorrent and ignorant violence and dare I say evil behavior is widespread. We see the patterns of religious hate appear each and every time an individual, political group or faith-based nation is “insulted” because someone may speak their mind, draw a cartoon, write a book or article or blog post, or even make a film.
While everyone may have the right to feel insulted by another’s set of ideas, killing in the name of those insults is just terribly wrong. As an atheist, I know this is a fact and on a scale of moral goodness, I’d say that places me as a non-believer, way above those who have faith and kill in the name of their faith.  
How can we not stand together when we read even part of the AP article:
“Pakistani police have arrested a number of suspects in the case of a 14-year-old girl shot and wounded by the Taliban for promoting education for girls and criticizing the fundamentalist Islamic movement, officials said Friday.
The shooting of Malala Yousufzai along with two classmates while they were on their way home from school Tuesday horrified people in Pakistan and internationally. The shooting has been followed by an outpouring of support for a girl who earned the enmity of the Taliban for publicizing their acts and speaking about the importance of education for girls.
The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the shooting, saying that the girl was promoting "Western thinking."
Providing more details, a Taliban spokesman said the top leadership of the Taliban's Swat Valley chapter decided two months ago to kill Yousufzai in a carefully planned attack after her family ignored repeated warnings.
The Taliban spokesman, Sirajuddin Ahmad, said her family had been warned three times — the most recent warning coming last week — before the decision was made to execute her.
Ahmad said the local Taliban leader Maulana Fazlullah and his deputies selected three attackers, including two trained sharpshooters, who carefully studied the girl's route home from school.
This child was assassinated for her writings which is a political act of attempted murder. Personally, as a father, I can only imagine how the parents of this little girl must be hanging on; my heart goes out to them. There is nothing worse than losing a child.
As a humanist, I see the attempted murder of this little girl as a terribly violent act by those so blinded by their faith that they would feel threatened by a child. 
As an atheist, the shooting only verifies what I already know. That religion, even in its mildest forms is a force for separating humans from one another. And in its most vile form like in this poor girl’s attempted assassination, it is a terrible evil which needs full eradication if we as a species are to ever become more fully human and evolved.

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