I enjoy looking at how words are selected and used in the media to influence readers. Shaping public opinion incrementally through the repeated use of certain words has become the new norm for main stream journalism. There is a powerful word choice that needs to be explored and explained due to its popularity. The words in question are fundamental, fundamentalists, and fundamentalism.
The media’s intent
The above words are used interchangeably to describe religious followers who interpret religious writings and teachings in strict accordance with original text and intent. The same words are chosen to describe a Wahabist who has sawed off an infidel’s head with a knife, and a Christian peacefully protesting the opening of an abortion clinic.
The choice and use of the words is intended to imply a moral equivalence between violent jihadists and Christians. The intent is to denigrate Christians for political gain while desensitizing the reader to the evils of radical Islam. Unwittingly though, the media may have laid the groundwork for the most important truth shared in decades.
Back to fundamentals
Let’s digress a moment and travel back to our formative years in kindergarten and the early years of grammar school. We learned the fundamentals by repetition of basic concepts: our ABC’s and numbers, 2+2=4, I before E except after C, etc. These were the fundamentals upon which all of our studies were based.
There was no escaping the educational fundamentals if you were to have any chance of moving forward in society. We also learned the fundamentals of social development from our parents: always say please and thank you, respect your elders, be kind to animals, and all of the other fundamentals taught to us from birth.
Contrasting religious fundamentals
Our individual religious and ideological fundamentals were taught to us by our parents and our churches based upon our varying faiths. For me it was as a Christian, specifically as a Catholic. The fundamentals I learned were based upon the Ten Commandments and the New Testament, and to a lesser degree, the teachings of the Old Testament found in the Bible.
My fundamentals were based upon the words of Jesus and his life’s work on earth. When I have a question about my life, I look at the actions of Jesus as my guide.
As I have studied the writings of Islam over the past few years, and learned the history of Mohamed and his life, I realized that the fundamentals upon which Muslims live their lives contrast greatly with my fundamentals. Christians base their lives on the fundamentals laid forth by Jesus, while true Muslims (an important distinction) base their lives on the fundamentals laid forth by Mohamed.
As important as the written words are the written accounts of their actions. This is where the fundamentals of the two religions really begins to separate; Christians believe that the perfect example for life is the actions of Jesus, while Muslims believe that Mohamed’s actions are the path to follow.
Compare the fundamentals
Compare the fundamentals, compare the words and actions; then, compare how the fundamentals have manifested themselves throughout history and are continuing to manifest themselves now.
The violence and oppression we are witnessing in Mali, Nigeria, Egypt, Syria, Pakistan, Yemen, and scores of other Islamic countries are based upon the fundamentals of Mohamed’s life. If you dare to watch videos from sources like MEMRI.org, you will find that Muslim clerics justify many of the actions using direct quotes from the Qur’an and the Hadiths.
When you chose to examine the fundamentals, most of the world’s violence will begin to make sense, as will much of history. For those unwilling to do the research themselves, we will begin to share more of the fundamentals of Islam with you and show how the fundamentals manifest themselves daily in the news.
When the media portrays Islamists as fundamentalists, they are so very correct. The Islamists and jihadists are following the fundamentals taught to them throughout their lives through repeated indoctrination. Luckily, the majority of the world’s Muslims have rejected the violent fundamentals and have chosen to live a moral life in peace with their neighbors.
When you chose to examine the fundamentals, you begin to understand the fear shared by many that a simple tripwire, or trigger, is all that separates a significant percentage of peaceful Muslims from jihad and extremism. When a choice is demanded, will fundamentals take precedence in their lives?
I have no fear of Christian fundamentalists who base their lives on Christ’s actions. As for Muslims who look to the fundamentals of Mohamed’s life as their guide, I fear the consequence.
by Jack Woodward 2/18/13