Violent fundamentalist groups are all the same: criminal
US Senator Joe Lieberman has criticized US President Barack Obama's National Security Strategy because it does not indicate specifically that the US is fighting a war against radical Islam.
“This war will not end when al Qaeda has been vanquished—though that, of course, is a critical goal—but only when the ideology of violent Islamist extremism that inspires and predates it is decisively rejected,” said Senator Lieberman (Independent – Connecticut) in a recent op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal.
“I think that the threshold point for extremism is behavior,” said Thom Hartmann, a radio host and political commentator.
Hartmann explains that extremism is bigger than Islamic extremism, citing previous groups such as the Red Brigades in Italy, and the Weathermen and Tim McVeigh in the US.
“We should stop labeling them as religious extremists and simply label them, as Bill Clinton did in the case of Tim McVeigh, as criminals and prosecute them as criminals. That way we do not deify them, we don’t strengthen them, we don’t help them become martyrs. George Bush did the worst thing possible with Osama Bin Laden. He did exactly what Osama Bin Laden wanted,” said Hartmann.
Many in the United States have painted the debate as a black and white, Christian v. Islam framework and Hartmann said that the concept of religions competing through violence is not new.
“What we have to do is repudiate the violence part of it and say no, that’s got nothing to do with the religion, that’s criminal behavior,” said Hartmann.
A documentary called “Jesus Camp” documents the activities at an evangelical camp for American children. The film shows adults inciting children to go to war with Islam, and shows children chanting and dancing with sticks while wearing camouflage.
Hartmann said that society should be concerned, but not just because of religious groups, but concerned about fundamentalism in general.
“We need to, right across the board, repudiate all of them and say that’s not us and we will not allow that. When people step over that line they go to jail,” said Hartmann, citing “The Turner Diaries” and other publications that incite a fundamentalist violence based ideology, including Glenn Beck’s latest publication.
Hartmann argued that there is no real difference between extremist groups when they begin to call for the use of violence. Whether Christian, Islamic or non-religious, groups that choose to incite violence are criminal.