Environmentalism Behind Unabomber Rampage

In his latest post at Discover, Keith Kloor responds to Jerry Coyne’s tweeted blog post headline “Islam Apparently behind Boston bombing” with the complaint that it is an “Islamophobic” response of  “intolerant atheists” who “apparently would blame environmentalism for Ted Kaczynski”. He has a point of course in that the headline is potentially misleading and may encourage unfair prejudice against Moslems in general, but that is not the only way to read it.

The headline “Environmentalism Behind Unabomber Rampage” may also be misleading, but both are within the bounds of current journalistic practice (which arguably do go well outside the bounds of common decency).

There is indeed a sense in which both are quite accurate.  Namely that (presumably invalid) arguments based on (possibly invalid) concerns about the environment (or Islam) lay behind the actions of Kaczynski (or the Tsarnaevs).

Both of course unfairly encourage the alternate more sensational interpretations that an entire movement (be it Environmentalism or Islam) stands behind the nefarious actions of the deluded. But, hey, that’s how we sell papers (and build blog readership)!

With regard to Islam right now I think there are at least two points worth making.

First I have to admit that, despite the appeal some aspects of it have for me including the existence of many peaceful teachings and of adherents who live by those, there is no doubt in my mind that the pro-violence teachings of Islam do exceed those of Christianity and Buddhism (which are still quite plenty enough to provide extremists of even the most peace-loving faiths with excuses for lots of horrific violence).

And secondly, as alluded to in my previous post, it is the excuse of the moment for those who want something to kill and die for. It is not just the religious who find it difficult to properly condemn those who use violence in support of a cause we support, but right now it is indeed Muslims who are most called upon to meet that challenge. And we should be thankful for those who are doing so.

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