I just saw an interesting video about a Museum of Religion in Glasgow. The St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art. Check out the video; it is a fine way to spend 9:44!
There was a little discussion about it online, too. Most people thought it sounded like a great museum and they'd like to visit it. No one directly mentioned the vandalism that had happened right in front of museum goers nor the unapologetic fundamentalist who claimed that his religion justifies that he cannot and will not "accept" symbols of any other religion but his own being given "equal" billing with his religion.
I ventured the opinion that this---the brazen desecration of religious symbols in a public place, and the subsequent unapologetic fundamentalism--this is the truly important message in the video. I added my (unoriginal) opinion that fundamentalism is the root of much evil in the world and that hopefully, museums like this one and videos like this, too, would make people stop and think about this issue more.
I really hoped to see the discussion deepen into a discussion of the broader issues which this museum has inadvertently highlighted. I really, really hoped that some of the people who had posted to say they thought the museum looked interesting, wonderful and important to world peace, would follow up with thoughts about the reaction of fundamentalists. I really, really, really hoped to see people facing into that important discussion and not running away from it-again. I waited for an hour or so and...
My unwelcome point killed the conversation, by once again drawing attention to that promise and asking people to think about it, talk about it, wrap our minds around the possible ramifications. It has to be faced: people just don't want to go there. We do not want to think about it, we do not want to know, we do not want to consider the part we all play in aiding and enabling extremists to flourish in our societies.
Sam Harris made the point that moderates all over the world enable extremists and fundamentalists to gain power and influence so that they can, eventually, impose their belief systems on people who do not choose it voluntarily. The point Harris made is really unavoidable, if you follow the idea of fundamentalist belief to its logical conclusion. If a fundamentalist really believes that his ideology is the only true path, then eventually and inevitably he will have to fight to the death for it. Along the way, and hopefully before he has to die for his beliefs, a fundamentalist will be able to use his fundamentalist ideology to justify (in his own mind) killing other people who will not accept his ideology.
That's what we've seen happening throughout the world in various forms from the beginning of recorded history (and no doubt it was going on before). Religious and ideological fundamentalism has been the root cause of just about everything evil on earth; war, murder, genocide (especially genocide). Fundamentalism is a take-no-prisoners, no exceptions kind of ideology and its logical fulfillment is eventually to eliminate all rivals.
You're either with us or you're against us. There is no middle ground, no grey area, no morally difficult situations and no mercy. This is fundamentalist thinking, and it is evil.