by Rick Sherman
The concept of jihad or "holy war" as practiced by some Islamics has been around for more than a millenium and has been looked upon -- especially by non-Muslims -- as some sort of barbarianism. Maintaining as an element of one’s faith the goal of ridding the world of anyone who does not share that faith is pretty much rejected in modern democracies. Tolerance of others’ beliefs, whether they be religious, political, social or other, is a keystone of modern civilization.
In illustrating the jihad mentality, we need not point only to some extremists in the Muslim world who use the call to jihad as justification for what are essentially political acts. Indeed, in our own Congress we can find the mindset close to home. The influence of the right-wing of the Republican party in the Senate this week managed to defeat an attempt to ratify the United Nations treaty on the rights of the disabled. The treaty (which is modeled after American laws on the rights assured to our own disabled citizens) brings the world into line with our progressive ideas about treating this sector of our society fairly.
Arguments made by the right against ratification of the treaty included outrageous allegations that subscription to the treaty would be to let the U.N. "blue helmets" determine American values and practices. It could, some contended, keep American families from home-schooling their disabled children, for example. Such nonsensical contentions carried the day; and the Senate failed to ratify the treaty, which has been signed by more than 120 nations around the world. Some more moderate Republican senators who had favored ratification changed their positions at the end, when it became clear that the treaty would be defeated, and they did not want to incur the wrath of their Tea Party colleagues.
That behavior provides us with a good example of radical group-think, akin to the jihad mindset. The world is watching the American political right with wonderment and concern. Much of what members of that minority do is merely silly and should be rejected by rational beings. But when, based upon its outrageous beliefs, this relatively small group subverts a world-wide progressive movement to assure the rights of the disabled, they do America a grave disservice.
The outcome of the November elections saw us moving away from some of the most fearfully ignorant positions held by the right. We rejected such concepts as "voluntary rape" and various anti-scientific theories about where the world began. However, we still have those in Congress who would go to any length to punish those who do not subscribe to their uninformed and paranoid beliefs.
The world awaits our return to sanity, America’s resumption of its traditional role of leadership in progressive, humane, democratic, tolerant, and peaceful progress for all.