Islam, fundamentalism and scapegoating

It’s very clear that Islam in general, and Islamic fundamentalism in particular, serve as the main scapegoat in western culture these days. It’s a favorite shadow projection object for many, and it tends to cloud rationality and reason – as it has historically in similar situations.

It’s equally clear that the threat from Islamic fundamentalists, although real and needs to be addressed, is very small. It completely pales in comparison with so many other things, including that we still live in and propagate social systems – in economy, production, transportation, food production and more – that are not aligned with ecological realities. By living within these, we are destroying our own life support system. If we were to be upset about something, and pour great amounts of resources into something, that’s it. And there are so many other areas more important than the threat from small groups of terrorists. (For instance, more people die in traffic accidents in North America each week than died in 911.)

And, although I am no expert here, it does seem that Islamic fundamentalism has one main cause, and that’s how the west has treated the rest of the world over the last several centuries. It seems to be a very understandable reaction to imperialism of all sorts – military, economic, cultural and more. And yet, that’s not something we hear much about from politicians and media.

I realize there are good reasons for this. More generally, shadow projection is very common at individual and group levels. And in this case, as so often before, this tendency is harnessed and channeled by some who have the means to do so, and gain from doing so. It’s in many people’s interest that we have an “external” scapegoat. It distracts from what’s happening here. It galvanizes people. It scares people so it’s easier to push through policies and military interventions that it otherwise would be difficult to get support for. It is also good for the media, since fear sells newspapers and news shows. I also realize that most people are not very rational when it comes to assessing and ranking threats. What’s dramatic and immediate, and what the media and politicians focus on, is what many will perceive as the biggest threat. And I realize that if the media and politicians would acknowledge and address our own role in the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, however indirect it is, that wont’ be very popular amongst a certain segment of the population (the more conservative, mostly).

P.S. Some articles do address this, as this article I just came across.

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