Friday, April 01, 2016


It was heartening to notice this sign in the window of a very ordinary city deli in the San Francisco's Tenderloin neighborhood today. This frightful campaign season has made clear that we need more of this.

It reminded me to point to the work of one of my favorite newly discovered social commentators. Haroon Moghul wrestles with the fraught meaning of Islam within U.S. society at Religion Dispatches. Here's a sample, arising from his reaction to the Mormon state of Utah's recent rejection of Donald Trump in favor of Ted Cruz in the Republican primary.

Unlike many other Republican constituencies, Mormons seem to be repelled by everything Trump stands for. ...

... far be it from me to miss an opportunity to point out how Trumpian authoritarianism parallels Islamic extremism. Though religiously conservative Muslims may hold political opinions that many of us might find uncomfortable, if not outrageous — political illiberalism, patriarchy, ideological and social rigidity (they’d be on the Cruz Crew) — religiosity is also an inoculant against certain forms of violent radicalization. The more you know about Islam, and the more you practice Islam, the less tempted you are to join an extremist group.

As the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding’s Director of Research, Dalia Mogahed, told me, her research “found no correlation between rejection (or acceptance) of violence or religious literacy.” But, she also noted, “people who engage in violence are typically religious illiterates.” She pointed to the lack of religious training, or specific instances in which ISIS recruits purchase Islam for Dummies while on their way to Syria....

...while strong religious beliefs can create social challenges in pluralistic societies (and all societies are, whether they admit or not, more pluralistic than they realize), they can also preserve pluralism, by anathematizing certain kinds of language and behavior. Consider the Mormon Church’s response to Trump against Chris Christie’s craven endorsement; the latter, governor of a very diverse northeastern state joined the Trump bandwagon apparently without a second thought about his new patron’s racism, xenophobia, and belligerency.

In order for us all to get along, we need some inner restraints on how we react to perceived differences. Trump and his followers chafe at being muzzled by "political correctness." The rest of us call this "civilization."

1 comment:

Rain Trueax said...

Or do members of the Mormon church see it as Glenn Beck has been preaching, that this is prophecy and Cruz is the priesthood restored? It never hurts to do research on some religions to see what they expect as often it explains a lot more than the idea that Cruz is more polite or even that he wants to bring Christian Sharia law to the US. Fundamentalist Christianity has a lot of expectations that many aren't aware of. Cruz's father believes in dominion and sees his son as also a promised one, taught him from childhood that he was set aside for this. This is why many would vote for him given his record and for what he actually stands. The irony of the Mormons is many Christians see them as a cult. Religiosity is complex to say the least.

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