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tv   After Words  CSPAN  December 25, 2014 8:59pm-9:59pm EST

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that does is splinter the votes. and i don't think i would be welcomed to the democrat party. so i think -- >> host: you would pick one of the two parties? there is a distrust inside both parties. >> guest: no question. >> host: and part of it is this populus thing of the right thinks i am not getting a fair deal and the left thinks they are not getting a fair feel. and you could argue they are both right and that is why i wonder if this boils over into more of a ross pero thing? ...
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basically she's how you got the book done. >>guest: she keeps me in shape. >>host: the bestsellers. she reminds you of that a lot. kit absolutely. >>host: thanks a lot. >> that was afterwards, book afterwards, book tv signature program in which authors of the latest nonfiction books are interviewed. erring every entering every weekend on book tv at 10:00 p.m. on saturday, 12 & on sunday and you can
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also watch online. go to and click on after words in the book tv series and topics list in the upper right-hand side of the page. >> next on book tv afterwords. this week acclaimed religion author. and it she argues the formation of every religion involved battles and bloodshed resulting in a permanent bond between war and faith. this program is about an hour. >> i am stunned that you managed to put out one of these books. it seems like every two years. one of the most extraordinary scholarly feats i have ever seen. i
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don't no no how you do this, but that is another story. i want i want to talk to you about your book because it is, first of all, all, so definitive about violence and religion. secondly, your thesis is interesting. religion may not necessarily be the cause of all violence i wonder i wonder what prompted you to do this book in the first place. >>guest: because i am a writer about religion, though, teachers. the cause of all the major wars in history. it is clearly not true. they were not caused by religion but for secular nationalism. and i think that if we keep
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on just casting religion and the role of the absolute villain, we are not looking at some of the other factors , military historians tell us are involved in violence and terrorism. we never go to war for a single reason or for a single ideology. there are always other factors involved. one of the chief being competition for scarce resources, the economic role has always been major. and these things blend together with ideology. >>host: one of the things that you talk about, you lay out a number of reasons why people go to war. obviously politics is one of the major reasons, economic resources, but what fascinated me was when you talked about search for
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meaning, people were looking for search for meaning, and part of that is excitement, almost the ecstasy of going to war, youthful exuberance, and the necessity. you talk about how without war there would probably be no civilization. the one that got me most was the search for meaning. >>guest: yes. because yes. because we are meaning seeking creatures as part of our human condition. we do. we follow easily into despair if we cannot find some kind of ultimate significance in our lives. warfare has been for men particularly one of the triggers for a certain ecstasy.
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chris hedges, new york times correspondent has written a very good book called war is force that gives us meaning. everything becomes crystal clear from then on the battlefield. us battlefield. us and them, black and white, and also he says that when you are in the midst of conflict to see how very, very trivial and pointless most of civilian life is. i was talking to a military historian and britain this past month, and he was telling me, one of the chief causes the drive sent people to go to the battlefield is boredom. utter boredom and futility in our lives. and they and they get it in the ways that i don't think women do. >>host: you just brought up the subject that you did not really touch much on in your book which is what about women. you. you know, there is so much about the alpha male, rape
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and pillage and taking away the women and bringing them back and women were slaves. man's search for meaning, the the ecstasy, youthful exuberance, there is nothing about women. where do women fit into all of this violence? >>guest: well, not so much. war is very much a masculine game. we do not have the physical strength and we are not programmed for it. the best part of our evolution, the longest time in human history was hunter gatherers when the men in order to survive had to kill animals and became professional killers, using their big brains to invent a technology that enabled them to kill creatures far better than themselves. the women stayed at home.
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women are beginning to come onto the scene politically more than they ever did before. people people have often said to me, as women have this urge for violence in the same way perhaps they can bring something new to the scene, but whenever people say that to me misses bacher rises up before me. she thought a pointless war in the falcons. women have a contribution to make. what we should do is, all of us, however privileged we are, we have all had experience of being ostracized and patronized and marginalized, pushed out of the way.
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if we want to bring something new we should bring that experience onto the table. stand up, give voice to the type of people all around the world who are also marginalized and oppressed. so many of the problems we are having today comes from the vast disparity in wealth and power in the world that is causing huge alienation, this class, and rage. >>host: what fascinates me is from the beginning of time to fight five and you start out early, even pre- religion, women are on the sidelines, and yet they are the ones who suffer the most. if men go out because they are looking for payroll exceeds in battle or are young or board will because they get a sense of ecstasy, women don't get anything except killed. their lives get disrupted.
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why haven't women put a stop to let? why have they sat on the sidelines? margaret thatcher ordered the war, but was not active on the battlefield. >>guest: indeed. it is not only women. you have to remember that the warrior class until the modern time, the warrior class was only an aristocratic class. class. the vast mass of the population were present to continually killing livestock, burning buildings, starving to death , dying of disease. and i think it is the powerless people of this world, the vast majority of the population who had been suffering from war. that still proceeds today.
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>>host: when you start in your book and write about the beginning of violence, you are talking about the fact that pre-religion there really was not anything called religion and that what took the place of what we now call religion was community and community rituals and that when people were battling the rock battling for religious reasons at all because there was no religion.
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the oxford classical dictionary tells us that there is no word in greek or latin that corresponds to the word religious or religion in english. words that we translate as religion is like arabic or sanskrit, invariably referring to something much larger and more encompassing so that before the 18th
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century it was impossible to say where religion and it ended and politics began. there was no conceptual means of separating the two. if most like to take religion as it were out of politics and warfare or state building was like trying to take the chair and out of the cocktail. so coming gold. and certainly you are absolutely right that community, people did not experience god by themselves. from the beginning of human 625 human society they experienced it together. the notion of community has been crucial. but living with one another we put the ego on the back burner, get intimations of transcendence and the religions of institutionalized.
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his monastic order of monks. community life is an essential way to get to nirvana. the important important thing about these communities was that they were always pretty political. they were always a kind of eloquent alternative to the violence of aristocratic life in the court with its concern about warfare, egotism, gaining wealth, plundering other people's fields, taking out their presence. all of that, a lot of aggression. in the early christian communities, certainly the jewish and muslim communities, set up by the
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prophet, it was meant to be an alternative and a review a review to the way that the aristocratic court, the warmonger was conducting itself. >>host: one of the things that fascinates me is you talk about how warfare and violence was necessary for its civilization. and without that their they would not have been any civilization. correct absolutely that in every single civilization before the modern time, before time, before he invented an industrialized society, every single civilization depended upon agriculture which meant that in every single civilization, whether china, india, europe, the middle east developed a system
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whereby a small aristocracy comprising at most 5 percent of the population took away the progress grown by the presence and kept them at subsistence level and used his wealth that they had taken to fund their civilization projects. this could only only have been done by force. they had this peasantry subdued. subdued. some 90 percent of the population throughout 5,000 years were kept in distress and anger. now, as historians tell us, without this terrible system we would probably not have developed beyond a primitive level as a species because the system supported a privileged caste with the people had the leisure to
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explore the arts and sciences, plus when your a economy is based upon agriculture, the only way that you can, if you like, like, increase your gross national product is by acquiring more land and more peasants to farm it. consequently warfare became essential to the economy. plunder was also essential to supporting the aristocratic lifestyle. that, of course, because we are meaning seeking creatures, this effort, this struggle to achieve civilization was mythologized in various religious systems to give it meaning and significance. the same time their were always prophets and sages --
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i am thinking of the prophets of israel, for example, jesus, mohammed, who spoke out about the system of oppression and castigated people, rulers for a person the poor in this way, had harsh words for those people who said their prayers or worship in the temple but neglected. >> i was going to say, are you saying that violence was a good a good thing or is a good thing or can be a good thing? without it we would not have -- without it we would not have civilization is kind of a conundrum. >>guest: civilization is a conundrum for us all. of course i do not think it is a good thing. it is appalling, just as the system of agrarian oppression was appalling, but it is a dilemma.
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the american monk says that all those of us who benefit from a system of oppression are in some way implicated in the suffering that it causes, and all of us are alive today zero our civil and -- civilizational achievements and privileged lifestyles to all those millions of men and women who were oppressed for thousands of years in this way. and i wanted to call my book originally a chauffeur's government, but, but i knew my publishers would not allow me to have that. but a third century emperor in india, the first emperor to to rule the whole of india, and he was a cruel man who had come to the throne after killing two of his brothers which was quite common at the time, but eight years into his reign he accompanied the army on a
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campaign to put down a rebellion in the city, and he was horrified at the bloodshed, the mass, horrified to see the thousands, hundred thousands, hundred and 40,000 prisoners of war torn from their families and taken into forced agricultural labor. and he put up throughout india these extraordinary inscriptions written on vast rock faces of huge cylindrical pillars all over india. they were uncovered and translated in the 19th century in which he says how distressed he was at the violence and he himself will give up violence, no more warfare, no more hunting even. he will go on pilgrimages to buddhist tribes instead. instead. saying we must listen
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calmly. if we have to go to war, we must keep punishment to the hospital possible. but for all of this, he is calling for more compassionate society, and finally he would become a buddhist. a buddhist. for all the city never spend his army. had he done so -- so this is at his dilemma of civilization itself, it depends on great inequity.
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much the same is pretty well through today. you and i live lives of incredible privilege. there's a huge inequity of resources, wealth, and power in the world. and it is time. we have to make ourselves aware because if we don't no , learn to implement the golden will globally, which has been articulated in every single major tradition , never treat others as you would not like to be treated yourself, unless we do this globally and make sure all peoples, whoever they are, are treated with the kind of respect that we wish for ourselves, we are not going to have a viable world. if if the british had applied the golden rule in
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their colonies i don't think we would be having so many political problems today. >>host: you mentioned -- i was i was going to bring that up. confucius was basically the one that wrote about the golden rule and the buddha and jesus. where did their sense of morality, if that is what it is come from? if it was, in fact, convenient and economically prosperous to continue on with four, how did they happen to come upon this view that hurting other people is not a good thing? clicks you know, i know, i think we have inherited the stubborn sense that life -- people should live in equality with one another. the time before civilization, the the longest part of our history,
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20,000 years and more. and this -- hunter gatherer societies, modern hunter gatherer societies are essentially egalitarian. they have to be because there is not enough. there is no sense of wealth. wealth has to be shared or the tribe does not survive. it is almost impossible for one leader to emerge and suppress the others, and there are small communities. people like confucius and the prophets of israel this
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ingrained sense, even though none of us have had an experience of an entirely justified society even has a time when there is no hope of articulating particularly in the dilemma. >>host: i think what most people when i talk about religion being the cause of violence would bring up the crusades and the inquisition as to totally religious, inspired actions. can you explain that? >> sure. we go to war for many interrelated reasons.
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i tried as a nun for seven years. it is impossible. our motivation is always so entirely mixed. the crusades were certainly in the glycol is human activities were with religious passion the pope was also very politically motivated. he wanted to use europe to extend his power into the east, especially as he was responding to a plea for help from the eastern emperor of the greek orthodox world who did not accept the supremacy of the pope. crusades would be of the posts a poster that. he was engaged in a long struggle fought in europe
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between the pope, the church, and the kings of europe as to who was going to be top dog, the real leader, and he was asserting his -- he was asserting his right as opposed to the king to mobilize the whole of europe for warfare. it was an*political notion. by the notion. by the end of the crusades it was more important -- less what happened in the middle east or how the fighting was going to what impact the crusade had politically at home and now it enhanced ambition. so the two, religion and politics were infused in a cocktail here. ..
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an do this again and again in the book in my story. , they have a common of people and the people they pick done, the common people were picking on word that jewish who had converted to christianity. a lot of them had converted to christianity.
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they came extremely successful in the christian world and they were invented for it. they went against practicing at this time and they started the imposition against them. but it was a tragedy because for centuries under muslim rule jews christians and muslims have lived together in relative harmony in the iberian peninsula, but they introduced the hatred and suspicion of the enemy into spain for the first time. fewer people died in the inquisition than is commonly thought. and the inquisition was quite rightly hated that it was also
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resented and the rest of europe because spain was definitely the most powerful kingdom in europe at that time. and so the stories of inquisition have gotten overblown especially in the protestant world. but still it was a poorly and spent but again that an infusion of both politics and religious passions in that kind of cocktail. >> host: you mentioned in your book in the crusades that a lot of these young men who went after the crusades had no idea what they were doing or where they were going and that they would stop at jewish community sensei but wait a minute why are we going off to the middle east to kill muslims when the jews killed christ? why don't we just do it here and not have to travel all that distance? and i thought, it never occurred to me. i didn't know that was part of the crusades. >> guest: people were genuinely bewildered. you can imagine now when a ruler
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is going to work he goes on tv and everybody explains it knows what's happening but everybody, young people and aristocrats were signing up for the crusades because it was an adventure in the way we talked about it and it was imbued with religion because we were ready to liberate the tomb of christ from the cyrus and. a lot of them were really confused. they had this idea that the jews had killed jesus. in fact of course we know was the romans who put jesus to death rather than the jewish people and jesus was himself jewish. but they were puzzled both the german crusaders and the french crusaders saying look we have got it all backwards. at this point europeans knew next to nothing about islam. the muslims were a shadowy presence on the horizons. why were they flogging
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3000 miles through the middle east are through incredible dangers when the jews were alive and well on their very doorsteps? here again too the economic reasons for the sudden hatred of jews who had been well-integrated into european society because europe was beginning its slow progress to creating a commercial empire, a commercial economy and eventually in the 19th century it replaced the agrarian empire. but in any period of massive social change this puts a great strain on social relations. we see it in countries modernizing today. going through this painful rite of passage from a premodern to a modern state of affairs, how this creates social tension.
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in the jews were very much associated with money and with the commerce that was resented so much by the people who are benefiting from it. so again it's a tragic event because every time in the future a crusade was called, muslims in the east, those who didn't go on a crusade would kill the jews at home and anti-schism a chronic disease in europe and jews and muslims were somehow linked in the european mind in some way. >> host: you talked about religion earlier and the meaning of religion, how the word really didn't exist until i guess martin luther is the first person who was a proponent of the separation of church and state but also that religion became something that was internal instead of external and until that time religion has
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been about the community, about the state and now suddenly became something that was within us. how did that happen and what did that mean in terms of religion? >> guest: well martin luther is an interesting figure. he is the first european to advocate the separation of church and state. he also showed that this would not necessarily be a peaceful alternative because his idea was that the will was so corrupt that religion should have nothing to do with it. it should really basically literally let the world and its problems go to hell while the religious retreated into the inner kingdom of god within them. but also during the peasants
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wore and when the peasants ruled in germany at this time, another symptom of the process that was going on he told the princes to go in and kill them, kill the peasants despite them, burn them, put them down as you would put down a mad dog he said because the peasants had committed the cardinal sin of fixing up religion and politics. they were told in the gospel to say this huge inequity was against the teachings of christ, that all people were equal and should love one another and the rich and poor should sit at the same table. and even though this is quite right from the gospel and martin luther was keen on going back to the scripture it caught no ice with him as far as the peasants should be slaughtered and killed. protestant christianity is the only form of religion that suits
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our modern conception of religion as an essentially private quest. but luther's aggression shows that there has also been immigration and secularism too. and we see that particularly in revolutionary france for example when the french during their revolution separate, wanted to get rid of the catholic church which was so intimately entwined with the old aristocratic order that they were pulling down. one of the first acts of the new national assembly was to confiscate all church property and put it over to the state and to abolish the religious orders. they followed that up a year later with the september -- when the mobs were let loose in the prisons were a lot of priests were incarcerated and sorted them all in a couple of nights.
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thousands of people were killed and then later that year the revolutionary armies killed probably about a quarter thousand people in western france who are protesting against the anti-catholic measures of the regime. secularism has often been imposed violently -- has been particularly true in the middle east. many of the problems we are having today springs from a too violent, too hasty secularization of the country which has been done cruelly with blood and slaughter and has pushed islam into a more aggressive mode. >> host: you have a chapter called holy terror and i'd like to talk about terrorism now.
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you quote richard dawkins, a famous atheist is saying only religious faith could motivate such madness as terrorism. but i would like to hear your definition of terrorism because i think it's different from what most people think. >> will terrorism like religion is a word that is notoriously difficult to define. so much so that most scholars who specialize in the study of terrorism say that is hopelessly lost its semantic infusion. you could say that it involves the killing of innocent people by a group, but if so to sertorary warfare and that's certainly true. the state has been by far the biggest killer of civilians, far more than any individual group
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of terrorists. and that has been exponentially increasing in the last century. in world war i over 5% of the people who died were civilians. in the second world war, those figure shot up to 66.5% of the casualties of world war ii with civilians. they were deliberately targeted by a scientist who created special bombs that would have an effect, a disastrous effect and were dropped on german and japanese cities precisely to terrorize the population and dropped in residential areas of civilians. now it's 90% of people are dying in our current wars have been civilians. so you can't say terrorism is
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just about the killing of civilians therefore. they also insist that whatever reasons people give for terrorist action, it's all done for allah or it's. , that it is always inescapably political. that's the one thing you can say about terrorism is it always has a political focus. it's about power, about grabbing power were getting rid of a certain power structure or tearing down a certain elements of society. it's about power so that was certainly true if you look at al qaeda. sadly there is all this talk about god, but there's also in bin laden's speeches, strong political anger with saudi arabia and western policy,
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strong anger about western policy in the middle east. so again you have this motivation. >> host: so everyone who is anti-islam or anti-muslim says that islam is a violent religion and yet most muslims will say that it is not a violent religion and in fact terrorism is against the koran and against everything that islam stands f for. tell me what you think about islam and about the muslim religion and whether you believe it's a peaceful religion and why is it that they are always associated in people's minds with terrorism? >> well, first of all islam has been for centuries until the modern era of far more tolerant
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religion than say christianity. the word jihad which has now been entered the english lexic lexicon, is often thought to be central to the koran. in fact it isn't. through its word jihad and its derivatives are spoken only 41 times and the koran and only 10 of those instances does it refer unambiguously to warfare. the word jihad means struggle and it's a struggle sometimes that you have to fight in them little muslim community was being threatened with extermination by the establishment but also it's a struggle to share your food with
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somebody who is worse off than yourself when you have hardly got any resources yourself. that is also a struggle. it's also jihad. it's a very famous haditha, a saying attributed to the prophet mohammed when he is returning from battle. he says to his companions, where returning from the vessel jihad. that is the battle and going back to the greater jihad, that is the far more difficult and gets much more important struggle in forming your own society in your own heart. that has been western policy throughout the ages. the muslim law was devised at a time when muslims ram the biggest empire the world had
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ever seen. and it is about the muslim law speaks only about defensive warfare, not aggressive warfare. by this time expansion had stopped. they knew that they could not expand the empire any further. it reached its limits that they had to defend their frontier so it's very much a defensive warfare, not an aggressive warfare that is being advocated. and yes there are some passages in the koran that speak of warfare and killing. these are passages that make a profit at a time they were fighting battles. i discussed them all in the book in detail. various exegetical strategies to balance all those few passages with the march larger corona can passages that speak of the importance of reconciliation.
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even these extremely aggressive packages -- passages always say it's better for your souls to sit down and discuss this peacefully and reconciliation is better and god is always forgiving. that balance is always there. now until recently nobody read the koran on its own. just as jews don't read the jewish scriptures, the hebrew scriptures without the togo exegesis. you see the scriptures through the lens of the rabbinical exegesis that have been developed over centuries which was very much concerned to mitigate extremely violent passages in the hebrew bible. we have all got violent passages in our scriptures because we are violent people and our
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scriptures reflect us. but in the muslim world too nobody just picked up the koran and picked out a few passages from jihad. i think this caution of reading the scripture in the light of all this traditional exegesis actually held extremist opinions at bay. why is there so much terrorism in the muslim world now? because i said earlier muslims have had a much more difficult passage to modernity than we have. number one, they were a great world power and when the british and the french came in and subdued them and their empires, they were reduced overnight to a dependent block and that goes very deep. humiliation is often a huge
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cause of violence not just in islam but other parts of the world, a sense of corrosive shame and humiliation. that's a very dangerous thing to have loose in society. secondly as i said earlier secularism has them been imposed so why only that it has required -- acquired a nimbus of evil and every fundamentalist movement that i have studied is rooted in a fear of annihilation. in the muslim world he could see why that fear of annihilation is acute. the shaws may they are soldiers go out with their bayonets ripping off the women's veils and tearing them to pieces in front of them. in 1935 the shot gave his soldiers orders to shoot hundreds of unarmed demonstrators in one of the holiest tribes of iran and hundreds of iranians were killed that day. sunni fundamentalism took them
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to ghastly gun -- concentration camps which the muslim brotherhood were incarcerated for 50 years without a trial. and often doing nothing more incriminating than handing out a few leaflets. and so in this embattled sense you have a more extreme form of islam developing. that tragically has erupted as we have seen in terrorist action. but it's not just purely islam. let's look at suicide bombings, which seems the quintessential terrorist activity. suicide bombing was not invented by muslims. it was invented by the tamil tigers who had no time for religion. utterly aggressive and who until
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the iraq war held the undisputed record of suicide bombings. robert pape of the university of chicago has done a survey -- excuse me -- back of every single suicide bombing that has occurred between 1980 and 2004 and it concludes that it has nothing to do with either islamic fundamentalism or and i quote any kind of religion for that matter. in lebanon in the 1980s there were something like 30 odd suicide bombing attacks. seven of them only were committed by muslims, three by christians and the rest by secularists and socialists coming in from syria. and the main motive robert pape
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says for suicide action is when your homeland, the country you perceive as your homeland, has been invaded or occupied by a superior military power or empire. in lebanon it was the united states and israel too. that also inspired a suicide bombing for a while and hamas. but again if you look at the hamas videos, the young martyrs to be segue in the cocktail we have seen throughout forming a prayer to say that they are going to meet the world into a pier secularist nationalist idea for liberation, the liberation of palestine. then in third world ideologies they go to the beacon of hope for all the oppressed people who are suffering under western
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imperialism day that goes back to the liberation of palestine back to islam. again not cocktail. >> host: i was going to ask you about isis. let's talk about isis because, what do you think motivates them? i mean they talk about this being a religious jihad you know and the methods they use seem to go back 2000 or 3000 years ago in terms of violence. what are they about? >> well, isis is again a pretty motley group. you have got some die-hard jihadist and aecom, their roots in a particularly form of saudi arabian weapon is him. the brothers who were bedouin tribes who were sort of civilized to lead a nomadic life
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which topped a very narrow form of islam currently in saudi arabia known as wahhabism and they took it to an extreme. they had to be suppressed eventually by the saudi but that kind of feeling and love of warfare that was apparent, and that's the core of isis. but these hideous hordes overrunning iraq and syria at the moment are not entirely composed of die-hard jihadis. a whole lot of thugs have also joined in the fray who just love violence and love the excitement of it. plus and significantly a lot of malcontents left over from the saddam regime, members of saddam's expanded army for example which the americans
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wisely in my view disbanded when they arrived in iraq. and also the socialist party who paid the status quo set up after the war and are happy to join in this frenzy. plus many of the young people who are joining up are joining up for that same age-old desire for meaning and glory and for many of them islamic commitment is minimal to would-be jihadis who left britain in me to go to syria. two books from amazon. one was -- for dummies and the other was the koran for dummies which shows the knowledge of the
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koran that they had. now we have seen that terroris terrorists, forensic psychiatrist have made extensive studies of terrorists who took part in the 9/11 atrocity and also those who were picked up by the shoe bomber or the boston marathon bombers. they found that only 20% of these people had a conventional muslim upbringing. the vast majority of them were either converts like the canadian a week or two ago or they were nonobservant like the boston marathon bombers or they are self-taught with a smattering view of islam derived from such tomes as islam and iran. now where did they come from? in some ways i know exactly.
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they give the impression of going back two or 3000 years with their hideous beheadings but these are all very strategically focused. this is essentially above commitment. it expresses the dark side of modernity in which mass killing has been sadly a feature ever since the french revolution. during the french revolution in one year, 17,000 men, women and children were humiliated publicly by the revolutionary regime. the young turks during world war i defiantly secularist again the atheistic movement massacred a million armenians to create a turkic society.
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and i needn't detailed the mass killings that preceded falling following throughout the 20th century. furthermore they are also expressing in a very eccentric and bizarre way an unease with the nation-state which served us well during industrialization period in mobilizing the country for warfare but it also, it's not so good now that our society is becoming more global, whether we like it or not. we are inextricably combined with one another. economically when one market goes down the other markets throughout the world plummet that day. what happens in the middle east will have a blowback by the


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