As dangerous as religious radicalisms appear to be, there is even another subtle type of extremism that we all must be wary of, and strive to balance, if not completely prevent from becoming disintuned with, or disconnected from realities of religious indoctrinations. While Republicans and Democrats alike strive to find –the impossible political–balance between right-wingedness and left-wingedness it just appears that what’s of utmost concern to politicians across the divide, like their counterparts in Nigeria’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressive Congress (APC), naturally have a common goal: winning elections and controlling the seat of power. Consequently, these politicians from Donald Trump, the Republican champion as of December 2015, and Democratic President Barack Obama and formerly Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, have used misleading labels to categorize Islam and/or Muslims.
For one religions or religious texts, as I have argued at the University of Georgia in Athens Georgia and elsewhere, do not go about bombing or stabbing people. People kill people; religious people motivated, and usually under the spell of texted interpretations, go about enforcing their perceived meanings of holy texts. What seems interesting about the scripture dynamic is that the more irrational, the more poignant, the more intoxicating. Extreme fanatics are usually under the stupor of hermeneutical euphorias. Unfortunately for all of us in society muslim terrorists do not own exclusive patents to this category of violence. There are many secular as well as political bigots, who hiding under banners of ‘no religion’, atheism, or ‘irreligion’ foment equally devastating catastrophes on humanity, culture, and lifestyle. A case in point is Nigeria’s Boko Haramic statement by ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo when he proclaimed that winning election was “do or die” matter. Indeed he made sure that his promises were not treated as paper tiger threats. Attorney General and Federal Minister of Justice Nigeria Bola Ige was murdered in his own home like a chicken, December 2001, under the watchful leadership of Obasanjo. Representing a veritable stumbling block to Obasanjo’s political ambition, Mr. Ige’s assassins would definitely have been handsomely rewarded. That is the type of political intolerance which superpowers need to not promote; for violence begets violence. And if unchecked, Martin Luther warns that we shall all soon become a society of blind people–with our eyes for foresight gone.
It is against this backdrop therefore that politicians such as Goodluck Ebele Jonathan of Nigeria needs to be reappraised. First for his performance the court of the people are divided and for obvious reasons, too; secondly, Goodluck, as he is fondly referred, is the quintessential diplomat and statesman Africa desperately yearns for, not the belligerent, killing-squad-like Obasanjo, who would, as Nigerians report, openly and fearlessly “sleep with his sons wives” to gain power, a personality which the Yoruba deities obviously have frowned at for his incalculable desecrations.
“Who says Islam promotes violence?” when we know too well about the history of Christian crusaders. This Obama approach of dealing with, and addressing religious extremisms and terrorisms of Islamic State, for example, is most unhelpful. Such careless rhetoric bear the unintended consequence of breeding angst, anger, and retribution.
Among his several achievements Obama’s response to ISIL (as he prefers to sweet-name the terror group) is, at its best, flatulent oration, which, for a United States of America in twenty-first century, would be dwarfing immaturity for the exalted status he occupies in the union, and that’s being nice to a man who is first among his own race.
Both Christians and Muslims have propensity to violence. Inspired by scriptures adherents have been known to seek violent routes in getting the results they believe they deserve. A good case in point is Nigeria’s Bishop David Oyedepo of Faith Tabernacle, a 50,000 seat church in Nigeria, and owner of the Winners‘ Chapel network, when he slapped a young woman over her refusal to take on the witch label during a deliverance session he was administering. That Nigerian activists and social justice networks did not block the streets or attempt to reconcile social pretensions to justice orientedness forces on the conversation to drift necessarily into the complex complicated layering postcolonial power struggles in a diverse African country.
Overall, ignoring the oxymoronic description of Islam as violent does good to no one; calling any religion peaceful, for that matter, without proper nuance, ridicules our corporate efforts to arrive at a world where human dignity comes atop in every sphere of conversation and discourse. There are millions of peace-loving muslims in the world. Yet available data indicate an overwhelming support of violence in the religion. The topic under discussion is Islam, not Christianity; when we bring up Christianity, or should we talk comparatively, then bringing up any other religious typologies will be relevant. For now it may be helpful if the non-violent muslims and Christians and other alike can just join forces together to call the demon of radicalism and extremism what it really is: evil and unacceptable. If not Donald Trump and Barack Obama as well continue to play to the gallery of the media and capitalistic politics.