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Thursday, May 05, 2005

"Militant Secularists" - Give me a fucking break 

Brooks gets to talking about "militant secularists."

There's a lot of problems with militancy these days, but very little of it coming from secularists. You might argue that North Korea are, in some strange way, militant secularists - but they're also completely insane. In context, however, Brooks is clearly speaking of domestic "militant secularists" - none of whom I can think of at the moment.

Militant religious zealots blow shit up, like abortion clinics, with frightening regularity.

Where are the "militant secularists?" Is that just an inartful way of saying "intense secularists?" Does that mean I'm a "militant secularist" even though I wouldn't harm a fly? Are all the people fighting Islamo-fascism somehow "militant secularists?" What if they're devoutly religious, just not Muslim?

What the fuck is Brooks talking about?

(Written off the cuff in the middle of a BA review session, so please excuse all the blubbering and lack of content)

UPDATE: Link fixed, and did some more reading.

Brooks defines "militant secularist" in an interview here:
Militant secularists are genuinely hostile toward religion and think it is a form of primitive irrationalism. When you suggest that it is not going into the ash heap of history, they get quite angry. That was a belief system I thought was petering out but apparently not. And I would say soft secularists are people who just go through their average day without really much thought to either God or the transcendent and just live in a world that is aloof from talk of religion.
So I guess it's just bad nomenclature for a straw man (classic Brooks) - and since few people are likely to find this obscure interview, misleading nomenclature as well. What he's really perceiving could be fairly neatly (and more intelligently) described by understanding the difference between Athiests and Agnostics - with a few caveats.

But "militant secularists" sure makes some non-violent people seem scary, doesn't it? At the cost of blurring the definition of "militant" - a word that now, more than ever, deserves clarity.

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