The Deeper Problem of Fanatics

The terrorist attacks in France illustrate that there exist within the human population people who are not only willing, but apparently eager, to lose their lives for a “cause” so that they can slaughter hundreds of people even if the actual victims of their efforts are innocent bystanders who personally have not fought against them and whose only “crime” is being a citizen of a country fighting against those terrorists, or in some cases, only being present in that country. In the case of ISIS, what makes it worse is that ISIS and its sympathizers believe, or at least publicly declare, that their struggle is to create an Islamic Caliphate. Unhappily, this struggle for “freedom” is to create an “Islamic State” in which they are free to kill or enslave anyone who does not believe exactly as they do and in which women are slaves and brood mares.

Tens of thousands of angry young men who feel disenfranchised and marginalized have flocked to this cause, and it’s clear that a great many of them, if not a majority, are fanatics in every sense of the word. As history has shown, negotiating, talking, or compromising does not change the mindset of a fanatic. Most people cannot drastically change their mindsets once they become adults, and that means changing the mindset of a large body of extreme fanatics, i.e., those willing to kill repeatedly for their cause, is highly unlikely, to say the least.

The only successful remedies in dealing with such fanatics are either isolation from those fanatics or the application of greater force. In the modern high-technology world, as events in France and elsewhere have demonstrated, complete isolation or containment of fanatics is not possible, and since fanatics don’t ever give up, greater force essentially means large-scale slaughter of those fanatics, because small-scale slaughter only creates more anger and more fanatics.

This leaves the “West” with in an extraordinarily difficult position, either to beef up security and containment measures almost to the level of a police state, and still recognize that such measures will not stop all terrorist attacks… or enter into an all-out war in the Middle East, in which millions will likely die.

But then, all those ISIS fanatics will go to Paradise, while all the other combatants and non-combatants who perish will just die ugly painful deaths because the ISIS fanatics KNOW that anyone who doesn’t share their beliefs deserves to die for their apostasy, just as less violent fanatics know that everyone else’s beliefs are wrong and that non-believers should be required to comply with the beliefs of “the chosen.”

The Founding Fathers, of course, drawing upon their knowledge of past centuries of European religious fanaticism, designed a Constitution to keep the fanaticism of religion out of government and law, for exactly these reasons, reasons that American religious extremists seem to ignore, even as ISIS provides another example of the evils of extremism in pursuit of the true faith, whatever that may be.

3 thoughts on “The Deeper Problem of Fanatics”

  1. R. Hamilton. says:

    Non-Muslim religious extremists may ignore the wisdom of the 1st Amendment clause (which is not quite the same as keeping religion out of the public square!); but the percentage that would condone violence is almost certainly a LOT lower than 12% (as I recall, the percentage of Muslims in a very large poll that were sympathetic to the targeting of civilians). Indeed, in other respects, fundamentalist Protestants, active LDS, and conservative Catholics are probably quite good citizens, voting more regularly than most, being reasonably aware of issues that affect them, and donating above average time and percentage of their income to charitable causes (many of which do assist not only members, even if they do include a bit of message along with a meal).

  2. R. Hamilton. says:

    Oh, and I just realized the Supreme Court probably messed up when the application of the due process clause in the 14th Amendment to the Bill of Rights was made to include the 1st Amendment (thus banning all state involvement in religion, which had a long history that was originally accommodated by the way the 1st Amendment was written). There is already a separate prohibition in the Constitution proper against religious tests to hold office (which does apply to the states, independently of the 1st Amendment).

    The 1st Amendment is the only one that explicitly says “Congress shall make no law”. The original intent of that was obviously meant to be limited to constraining the federal government only; and for the most part, as long as normal court and petitioning procedures apply, not extending it to the states would not necessarily violate anyone’s right to due process.

    I’m not questioning that the current interpretation defines the law as it is. But I think a future Supreme Court could revisit that, although it’s most unlikely, unless there were six or more consecutive terms of Presidents that appointed socially conservative Justices.

  3. Earl Tower says:

    Your article identifies the problem very precisely. There will always be a part of any human population, who almost desires a chance to express this level of extreme fanaticism. Various groups of fundamental Islamics are using that fact and have built a violent force. The only ultimate answer is to hunt down each one of those fanatics and stop them by imprisonment or death.

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