A Fundamental Disagreement

Things got heated between Greenwald and Maher on Real Time last Friday:

David Atkins criticizes the arguments on both sides for being “too simplistic to be taken seriously”:

Maher and Greenwald are both right, and they’re both wrong. Yes, the problem has much to do with oil, imperialism and oppression. But it’s not quite as simple moral relativist academics might like it to be. And yes, the problem is religion–but not in the way that Maher thinks it is.

The problem, as it is everywhere, is fundamentalism. The problem that causes anti-choice terrorists to bomb abortion clinics, Timothy McVeigh to blow up a federal building or Eric Rudolph to bomb innocents at the Olympics, is the same problem that causes so many Muslims to become entrapped in terrorism and anti-progressive movements. It’s a struggle against modernity and against progressivism that occurs : 1) whenever religion of any kind is allowed to be the sole driving force of organizational activity in resistance to oppression, and 2) when people are free enough to congregate and resist without being enslaved or mass murdered, but not free enough to hope for true social advancement.

Digby pushes back:

Unfortunately, David chose to represent Greenwald’s views as being some sort of simplistic “blaming” of all the world’s ills on imperialism. That’s not what he said. Indeed he said several times, in response to Maher’s repeated insistence, that he did not believe that. He was referring specifically to the perennial question of “why they hate us.”  He believes that the beef stems from American foreign policy of the past six decades and not out of some religious hatred for The Great Satan.

Ryan Cooper tries to mediate:

It does seem that Islam is struggling somewhat with the modern world. Whether that is more due to some inherent doctrinal issue or European colonialism followed by six decades of American meddling and violence preventing the emergence of a modern society is fun to argue about, but basically irrelevant. Muslim theology is up to Muslims. …

American Christians can never be part of the intra-Muslim theological discussion. What America can do is try to break out of the cycle of violence which has characterized our relationship with the Middle East for the past half century. We keep pursuing our perceived interests, and in the process trampling one country after the next into the dirt and creating yet more pools of angry, brutalized young men.