El efecto Josías
In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo shootings, it occurred to me that the Kouachi brothers’ experience was likely similar. And that was what led me to think, I am Cherif. It was a sentiment not of solidarity, but terror — terror that the same evil might lurk within me. And, equally horrifying, I had to admit that I felt a sense of understanding.Leer más...
While the rest of the world saw nothing but a monster, I saw in Cherif a young man who was desperate to accomplish something of eternal significance with his life — a desire that I myself had felt. I saw someone who probably found purpose in a literal interpretation of the book that he had been taught was the word of God — a purpose to which I myself had once clung.
Most frightening of all, I saw in Cherif a man who was doing what he thought was right. He was not a nihilist or a lunatic; rather, he was a young man with an all-or-nothing attitude who was acting on imperatives that followed logically from a set of very bad axioms. If my circumstances had been different, I might have become the same kind of monster.
The forces that engendered in Cherif a will to destroy human life are not unique to radical Islam. Even now, Steven Anderson, pastor of the Faithful Word Baptist Church in Phoenix, Arizona, preaches that all homosexuals should be put to death, and there are many Christians who share his attitude — a fact that should give us pause as we come to terms with the recent massacre in Orlando, Florida.
The likeness between Anderson’s and a jihadist’s visions for society is striking, and one must wonder whether these visions are acquired in similar ways. When asked by Mark Curtis of USA Today how he had arrived at his views, Anderson said, “I grew up in a Christian home, but it wasn’t until I read the Bible cover-to-cover at age seventeen that I discovered the truth of what the Bible really says.”
Change the age to eighteen, and Anderson’s words perfectly describe my own experience. He, too, was primed by years of religious upbringing to accept the Bible’s contents as the word of God when he picked it up as a teenager. And he embraced all of it, including the most abhorrent parts. How many jihadists have had similar experiences with the Koran?
In both Islam and Christianity, it is easy to dismiss fundamentalist doctrines as perversions of scripture. But the fundamentalists have a ready defense against this charge. When Curtis suggested that Anderson might be perverting Christianity, Anderson said, “Let the viewers read for themselves. Let them pull the Bible off their shelf and look up Leviticus 20:13, and then let them be the judge.”
The disturbing truth is that Anderson is right: If you look up the verse, you’ll find that it says exactly what he claims it says — just as the Koran says precisely what jihadists claim it says. This simple fact is what makes it so easy for fundamentalist clerics to convince vulnerable youth to subscribe to destructive doctrines.
Islam and Christianity are not the only religions subject to violent interpretation, of course. And as it turns out, the phenomenon of a young man becoming radicalized after reading his religion’s holy book for the first time has been around for thousands of years. The Bible itself describes one particularly famous case: that of King Josiah. | QUILLETTE - Henry Rambow