Boko Haram and Us: We Have Met the Enemy

(Note: Due to a personal schedule commitment, this week’s blog entry is being made earlier than usual.)

By training I am a physician, although now retired. A board certified obstetrician and gynecologist, to be specific. Partly because of this but mostly because, simply, I am a human being, I cannot but express revulsion and horror over the ignorant, immoral, politically and religiously motivated kidnapping of those 300+ girls in Nigeria by the radical Islamic insurgency, Boko Haram. This group, which seeks to replace the sitting Nigerian government and institute strict sharia law, is opposed to anything it deems “western”, such as secular education, including the education of females, and any other elements it determines may be a part of “western culture”. The group is a living anachronism, a throwback to ignorant barbarism so far removed in time as to be almost incomprehensible in the 21st century. Or is it?

In recent years, Islamic fundamentalism has been the cause of much worldly mayhem, but it would be wrong to view it in historic isolation. Religion has been associated with, and frequently has been the primary motivating factor, in much human cruelty throughout the ages and, to strike what may be a sensitive nerve for some, Christianity has certainly been responsible for its share of historical havoc. It just happens that today it’s Islamism.

Before we sit back smugly and pat ourselves on the back for having come so far and become so civilized, however, we should look around at what’s happening right here and now in the U.S. As I wrote in my last blog entry, the Supreme Court has just given the go-ahead to sectarian public prayer at governmental meetings, which will result in violation of the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution by providing de facto endorsement of Christianity, it being Christian prayer that is being pushed by religious bigots in local jurisdictions. The Tea Party and other fundamentalist Republicans largely behave as a Christian Taliban, attempting to impose their irrational, inconsistent, neo-puritanical morality upon us all through restrictive and often punitive legislation. To wit: the mandating of transvaginal ultrasound prior to elective abortion, a measure designed both to deter and humiliate in its violation of both corporeal and mental autonomy. What’s next? Stoning?

The terrorism of Boko Haram, then, should horrify but not leave us feeling particularly superior. Bad things could happen – are already beginning to happen – here at home, and all it will take for the triumph of evil is, as has been noted so many, many times in the past, for good people to do nothing. Speak up. Vote. Stand for our common humanity. Let’s be sure that the legacy we leave for our children and grandchildren is not a theocratic police state.

Today’s Annoyance: Those idiots who agitate to “keep the government out of Medicare”.

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