This was previously posted on www.anton-wahlman.com on or before 2005-05-22:
Shalom! And greetings from Tel Aviv. This is supposedly the center of all religious conflict. Here, some people take religion seriously. More so, than a Disney employee in Orlando taking Mickey Mouse seriously. Why, is somewhat unclear, as God and Mickey Mouse alike are similar objects of wild childish imagination. At least Mickey Mouse makes money for a big publicly held company (Disney), whereas people in the God business seem to always run around asking other people to contribute to their deficit. God is all powerful, but he needs money. And he often goes to war, unlike Mickey Mouse, who is harmless at all times.
But that is not what peeves me today. No, what bothers me is this story of why Newsweek was supposedly irresponsible in writing a story saying that some US military guy at Guantanamo Bay flushed a copy of the Koran down a toilet. That supposedly caused rioting in Afghanistan, where 16 people allegedly died as a result (why precisely? One Afghani guy beat another Afghani guy because of what some American did in Cuba?)
Leaving aside the fact that most Afghanis cannot read, let alone don’t have subscriptions to Newsweek, or for that matter Internet access to http://www.newsweek.com/, this story is completely crazy anyway. The story seems to be centered on whether the underlying alleged fact (flushing the Koran down the toilet) was true or not. So what if it were not true? Every other tabloid writes something every single day that is nowhere near true. Per definition, every other editorial and op-ed writer cannot be true, as they have opposing views and they cannot both be true.
No, the bigger point here is that even if what Newsweek wrote were true, why should the Afghanis have rioted? If someone in Kabul or Teheran or Cairo were to flush a bible down a toilet, would there be rioting in New York, London or San Francisco? Of course not! Why? Because rational people don’t care about symbolic nonsense. That’s the difference between brainwashed religious peasants, and educated people - presumably most people in the West.
And herein is the fundamental dilemma behind peace in the Middle East, and indeed world peace. Relying on people who will riot and kill because someone flushes a book down a toilet, is not a recipe for any kind of peace. Basically, people who riot for such a nonsensical and stupid reason are at the level of an animal, not a human being. Dealing with people who take religion seriously is like having a pet crocodile – maybe it is exotic, but it may prove lethal.
Atheism is not a sufficient condition for peace, but it sure looks a lot better than taking religion seriously, which seems to be almost a guarantee for war. Little kids quickly figure out that Mickey Mouse is a fairy tale. I wish adults would figure out the God fairly tale, too.