Thursday, January 8, 2015

Ideas Strike Fear into Terrorists

"Terrorism really doesn't strike at physical structures as much as it strikes at ideas, and its main fear is ideas."

Jack Ohman, president of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, made this observation to reporters for the Los Angeles Times yeseterday after the attack on offices of Charlie Hepdo in Paris.

The world of abstract ideas often feels less important than rocket science, engineering, and multinational corporations, to name just a few other areas of human endeavor.

As a professor teaching religious studies, I often feel that my attempts to help students understand Judaism, Islam, Christianity, and gender politics within these religions are either futile or unimportant or both.  

IMPORTANT rating goes to things like the world economy, the fight against ebola, and making peace in the Middle East, right?  

This murder of twelve persons producing a satirical magazine reminds us that ideas are important.

In fact, the main goal of some terrorists is simply to extinguish ideas.  People die for ideas, whether these concepts be mistaken or not.  The American war on Viet Nam was based on the belief that another Communist country in Asia would be harmful to US interests.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me?  

These Paris terrorists beg to differ.  They are taking lives and losing their own over cartoons with words.

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