Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

September 10, 2010

The strategic implications of religious bigotry

Filed under: Radicalization,Strategy — by Philip J. Palin on September 10, 2010

The strategic implications of religious bigotry have seldom been more apparent.   Nine years ago a handful of violent bigots transformed our world.  In recent days a broader bigotry has been exposed very close at hand.  The minor gods, Fear and Hate, command quite a congregation.

Wednesday night was Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year.  The ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are known as the Days of Awe.  This is a time specifically set aside for reflection, repentance, and reconciliation.  I am not Jewish, but I welcome the invitation to these essential disciplines.

In the Rosh Hashanah liturgy there is a prayer-poem that strikes me as especially appropriate to these days and the choices we will make in these days. This too, I would argue, is part of our strategic landscape… even more difficult to fathom than earthquake, fire, or plague.

We shall ascribe holiness to this day.

For it is awesome and terrible.

Your kingship is exalted upon it.

Your throne is established in mercy.

You are enthroned upon it in truth.

In truth You are the judge,

The exhorter, the all knowing, the witness,

He who inscribes and seals,

Remembering all that is forgotten.

You open the book of remembrance

Which proclaims itself,

And the seal of each person is there.

The great shofar is sounded,

A still small voice is heard.

The angels are dismayed,

They are seized by fear and trembling

As they proclaim: Behold the Day of Judgment!

For all the hosts of heaven are brought for judgment.

They shall not be guiltless in Your eyes

And all creatures shall parade before You as a troop.

As a shepherd herds his flock,

Causing his sheep to pass beneath his staff,

So do You cause to pass, count, and record,

Visiting the souls of all living,

Decreeing the length of their days,

Inscribing their judgment.

On Rosh Hashanah it is inscribed,

And on Yom Kippur it is sealed.

How many shall pass away and how many shall be born,

Who shall live and who shall die,

Who shall reach the end of his days and who shall not,

Who shall perish by water and who by fire,

Who by sword and who by wild beast,

Who by famine and who by thirst,

Who by earthquake and who by plague,

Who by strangulation and who by stoning,

Who shall have rest and who shall wander,

Who shall be at peace and who shall be pursued,

Who shall be at rest and who shall be tormented,

Who shall be exalted and who shall be brought low,

Who shall become rich and who shall be impoverished.

But repentance, prayer and righteousness avert the severe decree.

For Your praise is in accordance with Your name. You are difficult to anger and easy to appease. For You do not desire the death of the condemned, but that he turn from his path and live. Until the day of his death You wait for him. Should he turn, You will receive him at once. In truth You are their Creator and You understand their inclination, for they are but flesh and blood. The origin of man is dust, his end is dust. He earns his bread by exertion and is like a broken shard, like dry grass, a withered flower, like a passing shadow and a vanishing cloud, like a breeze that blows away and dust that scatters, like a dream that flies away. But You are King, God who lives for all eternity! There is no limit to Your years, no end to the length of Your days, no measure to the hosts of Your glory, no understanding the meaning of Your Name. Your Name is fitting unto You and You are fitting unto it, and our name has been called by Your Name. Act for the sake of Your Name and sanctify Your Name through those who sanctity Your Name.

Today is Eid al-Fitr, one of the principal festivals of Islam.  This concludes the fast period of Ramadan, also committed to reflection, repentance, and reconciliation.

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Comment by Claire B. Rubin

September 10, 2010 @ 6:30 am

Well said. All I can add is Amen.

Comment by William R. Cumming

September 10, 2010 @ 9:39 am

How do you view HS in the visions of the various world’s religions? Us and others? Does religion add to resilience? Mormons storing 2 years of supplies is quite an interesting investment by a religion in preparedness or is it just to ensure lack of dependency on the community at large?

The desert religions largely grew out of environments of scarcity? How did they view the various natural events visited upon them?

Any open source suggestions discussing these or related issues?

What is the evidence that concepts such as “election” [Calvin] or the “chosen” [Judiasm] stemmed from survival of natural disasters? Floods [the big one of course] or earthquakes or whatever? Will the forthcoming sunspot storm of 2012 indicate whether technology or religion are competitors for the beliefs of mankind?

With the new vaccine recommendation out [all to be vaccinated]which suggests as I think proper that vaccines are to protect the herd not the individual how is this concept founded in religion?

Comment by Philip J. Palin

September 10, 2010 @ 4:52 pm

Bill, To date homeland security (at least in the United States) has been mostly a creation of the public sector and rather top down as well. As such, homeland security has — quite appropriately, in my view — been hesitant to engage the religious dimension of its work. It is largely an unexplored country. Some of the pioneering work with which I am familiar includes:

The Initiative on Religion and International Affairs of the Belfer Center at Harvard

The Common Word (Jordan)

The Center for the Study of Religion and Culture at Vanderbilt

The Quilliam Foundation (UK)

I bet you have already read it, but if not, I highly recommend Karen Armstrong’s The Great Transformation: The Beginning of our Religious Traditions

Right or wrong, I personally don’t want the government mucking about a great deal in religion. But just as I am interested in motivating the private sector to be more active in homeland security — broadly understood — I think it is worth encouraging private initiative as well in the religious dimension of homeland security.

Comment by William R. Cumming

September 10, 2010 @ 9:14 pm

Thanks Phil and no was not familiar with Karen Armstrong’s work.

As some readers of this blog know from past comments, I believe the 1st Amendment to the Constitution was designed to protect Government from religion rather than the opposite. After all, but for Tom Jefferson, essentially the Episcopalian Church was the established church prior to the Bill of Rights in my long time state of residency Virginia. Now strangely perhaps the Anglican Church, Episcopal Church and various sects struggle with issues of ordination of gays and women.


September 11, 2010 @ 2:07 am

To lay with one hand on my wallet and with the other to bestow $13,000 to favored individuals for religious tolerance junkets is none the less robbery in the name of religion. Toleration is a counterfeit of toleration and both are despotisms. They’ll open up the public purse as wide as possible to religion and find it empty. The minister has a bad mortgage instead of a good manse. All are living high on the hog on somebody else. What we can do is refer to O. Wilde, An Ideal Husband-Act II. “When the gods wish to punish us, they answer our prayers.”

I believe in the First and rest of the amendments and capital punishment. Giving churches and corporations public funding for failure rewards failure and ensures more of it. The laggard gets rewarded and the thrifty producer is punished. The church gets what is left over and the state operates on the 90% bluff basis. When the bottle is gone there isn’t any more. It doesn’t pay to bluff and I ain’t paying you to preach, I’m paying for high performance.


September 11, 2010 @ 3:59 am

Some trespasses are…

The Treasury can print the 0 dollar and print In Toleration We Trust with O politician on it. They could print a mosque on the back side and you guys can play Monopoly with it.

Play smart cop-dumb cop. The detective blew through the speed trap and the cops were chasing the cops. We have speed humps here to slow the fire apparatus and EMS service down. The whole neighborhood blew up, so why rush to the crime scene?

Another day, another economic hit and you got a case so get into it. If you regret it now, you are really going to regret it later. Justice should be swift and as fatal as required. We just retire you and we never retire. You get six feet of dirt in the end. You go with love your terrorists and we’ll stick with killing them. You won’t pass Go or collect $200.00, at least from me. Rest in peace and live in peace. We’re going to make a killing and there isn’t a thing you can do about it. You’ll be DBA and we can make a killing with plumbing. They stole my pipe wrenches. Beat them with a gas pipe and make pipe bombs. I got a bomb in the garage with a V-8 and no computer. I need a three car garage and a couple of more bombs. Some people need blown away and that can be arranged. Than God for heavy bombing.

Different bombs, same drill and all-gone.


September 11, 2010 @ 4:18 am

They are complaining because they have muslums fighting muslums in the Afghan circus court. Tony was trying to make Carmela feel bad about the whore he was screwing too. Complaint is an old maid. Knows what she want, just doesn’t know how to get it. The romantics always fail first in the line of duty. Send your guys after me and I’ll send them back in boxes C.O.D. fish. Go back to sleep now. I’m having a beer and a laugh. Thank the Irish for both and make more noise. Everybody meet at the base. The funeral is at the church and quiet. The koran burning was canceled. One bomb could of canceled the Afghani mob war. The contractors wouldn’t of got as fat. Now the Don is upset. Big WUP.


September 11, 2010 @ 4:32 am

More dong for newspaper racketeers and another ding in the old clunker. Better trucks in the junkyard and I’m ripping out gas appliances for the future. No hot water, so I’m soaking in cold. War can last 50 years and you need more Grants to settle scores. We’re not laundering you mafia wars virtual money creeps. Nobody cares.

Keep shooting and scoring USA!

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