Ah Yes: Holy Warriors Attacked Boston
March 7, 2015
I cannot help but read the story below and smile to myself at how the prosecutors in the Dzhokhar Tsarnaev trial are constructing a narrative, as is said these days, that paints the defendant as a “holy warrior” who was (a) waging war on Boston and (b) hoping thereby to qualify for “paradise” by dying a martyr, a religious martyr. Of course, what passes unnoticed by most who read of this strategy is that it plays into the hands of those who are labeled “Islamic extremists,” giving them a status they don’t deserve, if the protests of other Muslims are taken into account. But what is noticed even less often than that is that this strategy reflects the fact that many in the United States want to make the “war on terror” into an religious war, a holy war, as it were, and actually facilitates that characterization.
The point is: We cannot characterize people like Tsarnaev as “holy warriors” without at the same time making these attacks part of a religious war, which means that these allegedly “holy warriors” are making war on “our” religion(s) and we are obligated to respond appropriately, i.e., in defense of “our” religions. That is what happens, when the enemy is labeled “holy warriors;” we too become “holy warriors, willy nilly, because we become obligated to defend “our” religion(s) against these infidels. To fight the “unholy” who claim to be “holy,” we need to come to the defense of true or genuine holiness and, hence, we too become “holy warriors,” even if we disguise our warriors as “prosecutors” or “judges.”
It has been argued by some that while it would seem that our officials and we ourselves don’t mix religion and politics, this is in fact misleading. We like to say and to think that we practice, to different degrees to be sure, “the separation of church and state” and, therefore, we see ourselves as not mixing religion and politics. However, it is not clear that this is in fact the case, that we have by means of the alleged separation of church and state resolved satisfactorily what has been called by some the “theological/political problem” as we still seem to need to see ourselves as engaged in “holy wars” against “holy warriors,” carrying the banners of our religion(s) in front of us as we engage in yet another crusade against the infidels.
To the extent that this is the case, just to that extent will it be less than surprising that we will, as a people and as a government, engage in persecutions. And even if these persecutions are disguised as prosecutions, the rule of law and its corollary, “due process of law,” will fall by the wayside, as seems to be evident in the Tsarnaev trial. Perhaps this is no big deal. On the other hand, perhaps it is. And the prosecutors/persecutors in the Tsarnaev trial might, in their zeal to convict and condemn Tsarnaev, have opened, once again, a Pandora’s box it will be hard to close.