Thursday, November 13, 2003

Global shifts - a thought 

In the Atlantic article Kramer cites, the rise in a conservative brand of Christianity is also posited as a response to the extreme pressures of cultural isolation within a broadly and explicitly Islamic society. A propos, Tom Friedman writes today that Israel and Saudi Arabia need one another as never before. These pieces make me more inclined to hold to my belief that the most we are entitled to is a secular society, and not a society which echoes or ratifies explicitly religious values or doctrines. In a pluralistic world in which religion is more than a mere hot-button, but an identifier sufficient for the majority of the world's conflict (see Friedman's previous op-ed this week). Patriated Israelis have articulated (sorry, but apparently you have to pay for this archived article), for example, that there is something critically important to having a part of the world where Judaism governs and Jews therefore feel comfortable in their Jewish state. Not to pick on that country among so many examples, but I remain unconvinced that anyone has an actual right to statecraft amidst such religious restrictions. Not too many years ago, South Africa was a pariah for legislating racially-based restrictions that look somewhat similar to what any number of countries do now vis-a-vis religion. Plurality is a fact of life. Even a benign and moderately open Jewish, Muslim, Hindu or Christian state is still an affront -- not to mention a potential international terrorist target or threat. Moreso, I would argue than even a racially supremacist state such as the old South Africa or, perhaps, the current Zimbabwe under Mugabe.
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