Monday, June 18, 2007

Hugh Fitzgerald weighs in on the Barna survey

In an article on Jihad Watch, Hugh Fitzgerald offers a “thought experiment” stimulated by the main finding from the Barna survey which Robert Spencer in a previous article found troubling, to wit, that:

“...most atheists and agnostics (56%) agree with the idea that radical Christianity is just as threatening in America as is radical Islam.”

Hugh’s thought experiment is great, and provides necessary food for thought as a rhetorical jab to all those out there so thickskulled as to equate “radical” Islam with its “Abrahamic” doppelganger.

However, Hugh’s introduction to his theme betrays his myopia, clearly and unequivocally. He writes:

Apparently the abandonment of religious faith can lead some to subscribe to other Articles of Faith, including the one that says "all religions are the same" or "all religions mean the same thing" or "all religions are equally dangerous."

It is not the abandonment of religious faith that “leads” some to this equivalency theory. It is a much larger, and deeper sociopolitico-cultural process, of which the abandonment of religious faith is one tangential current—related, to be sure, but not as directly causative as Hugh supposes, and not so breezily free of other important currents and forces in the broader worldview of the West and its evolving sociopolitical matrix.

I suspect that Hugh is not merely myopic in the sense of ignorant, but positively and willfully refusing to grapple, intellectually, with any phenomena that require sociological and historical theories to try to understand. He persists in delimiting, or whittling, the problem down to size in his charmingly foppish manner, in the fastidious-scholar-in-a-white-suit-loath-to-sully-his-white-gloves-with-popular-labels-such-as-‘political correctness’ sense: for Hugh, it must apparently remain a problem of character flaws, pertaining to individuals (“cupidity, stupidity, timidity and rigidity”): not indicative of a broader and deeper sociological pathology pertaining to culture. One suspects he will obstinately hold to this, even when pillars are falling down around him. Hm: sounds like “rigidity” to me.

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