“What we feared, has happened.”—Charles Michel, Belgian Prime Minister
Two explosions in Zaventem international airport and a third one in the Maelbeek metro station killed at least 31 people earlier today in Brussels, Belgium. At least 100 people were injured in the blasts.
According to the BBC, a web site associated with the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the blasts in Belgium. On Friday, Salah Abdeslam, a key suspect in the November attacks in Paris, led to security officials throughout Europe issuing warnings. Abdeslam told authorities after his arrest that he had created a new network and was planning new attacks.
A week ago, a car bomb in Ankara, Turkey, killed 37 individuals. The Kurdistan Workers Party is blamed for last week’s attack in Ankara.
Paris, Brussels, Ankara. Madrid. London. Terrorists are murderers. Murder is not an idea. It is not a political statement. Murder is murder. It is not an idea. It is a vacuum, and vacuums are totalitarian in their lack of purpose.
I have been writing about Raif Badawi, a Saudi Arabian blogger who was convicted of “insulting” Islam and sentenced to 10 years in jail and a whipping, 1000 lashes with a cane. I have been writing about several prisoners in that country who face beheading for the supposed crime of protest. I have been writing about the coldly impossible illogic that sits at the heart of a theocratic legal system.
I wrote this a few months ago:
Saudi Arabia is a theocracy that has religion, one particular religion over all others, serving as its legal and judicial spine. A major offense in that system is “insulting” that religion.
I do not name the particular religion in my posts about this story because it is not the religion itself that is the issue—Islam is a major faith and it teaches love as each religion teaches love as the highest ideal—the problem comes when a government decides to become a theocracy and then decides that a free-thinking citizen represents a threat to either those holding power or those holding religious power, and that it must squash that freedom of thought. That it must punish thought itself. That it must shed the blood of thinkers.
Every nation that has been a theocracy at any point in its history possesses this bloodshed in its past. Every one. Thus, the specific religion that is at the heart of this particular story is not the issue, nor is religion itself, for that matter. The abuse of and executions of citizens by the state for possessing independent thoughts and for sharing them, that is the issue. As Raif Badawi put it, and I will again quote: “States which are based on religion confine their people in the circle of faith and fear.”
On several occasions, readers have “corrected” me, some politely, and pointed out that the particular religion ought to be named, that the particular religion ought to be blamed.
No. Fundamentalism is what needs to be named. Fundamentalism is what needs to be confronted. Saudi Arabia is a theocratic nation. ISIL (or ISIS) wants to be one, is fighting a “revolution” to become a nation that will be a theocracy and will oppress. (My country, America, does not have lily-white hands. Oppression is a part of its history. I can wish this was not so, but that is America-centric of me to do so. We helped create the political will to fight a revolution against us.)
The people who committed mass murder this afternoon in Brussels quite possibly thought of themselves as “revolutionaries” (it is reported that these were suicide attacks, so the past tense is used), but they were not. They are not. They were the polar opposite. Revolutions are fought for freedom. What freedom were today’s attacks to be emblematic of? The freedom to oppress?
There is no freedom, no greater good, no humanity, in dictating which god to pray to, how to pray, the existence of one god or God, or the nonexistence of any gods or one God. There is no revolution in killing innocents (some of whom were quite probably Muslim) because the country in which they reside does not officially pray to the same god.
Murderers are murderers and they always have been, but murder is not an idea. It is not a political statement. It is empty and totalitarian.
The universe is indifferent and entropy is a reality, but alongside entropy, the universe possesses—or was given—creativity. There is no indifference in creativity. Fundamentalism of every stripe—whether it is in power or is fighting to be in power—pretends to be political, but it is a political declaration of being pro-entropy, which is an untenable stance.
We live in an increasingly neurotic era, globally. America, my home, has spent more than a decade (some would insist the number is more like six decades) attempting to strong-arm the world into agreeing with our own self-regard. My country is unspeakably offensive about it.
Murder is murder. It is not an idea. It is a vacuum, and vacuums are totalitarian in their lack of purpose. History teaches us that ideas fill the vacuum, the murderous vacuum. Flood the world with more ideas, please.
Flood the world with ideas. Love is stronger than hate. That’s an idea. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” That’s another idea.
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