I try really hard to be fair-minded toward Moslems, because I believe that each of them has the capacity to choose their beliefs and actions. For those of us in the US, however, what Moslems believe is still less important than what non-Moslems think about them. Here is one example:
While the snickering fat cats get ready to split, the unticketed masses are deep in prayer. The director’s heart is probably not with them, though — not after he’s blown away a Buddhist monastery, the Sistine Chapel and the giant Jesus statue overlooking Rio de Janeiro. (Not that Emmerich holds nothing sacred. In an online interview, he’s quoted as saying that he’d wanted to wipe out a sacred Islamic shrine, too, but then thought … maybe not: “You can [let] Christian symbols fall apart, but if you would do this with an Arab symbol, you would have … a fatwa. So I kind of left it out.”)
So, here we have a secular, politically liberal, probably agnostic filmmaker (Roland Emmerich) who wants to cynically use religious themes to provoke strong audience reactions. But there are some provocations that are apparently not ethical. You don’t yell “fire!” in a crowded theater, you don’t question global warming prophets, you don’t call homosexual behavior voluntary, and you don’t mess around with ‘Slam™.
This shows the true meaning of piety, which can be described as respect for the ground of your being. If you are a political being obsessed with justifying yourself as righteous based on your adherence to an ideology, then you are pious about political icons. If your ideology is self-preservation and Christians seem like a bunch of superficial, hypocritical, blubbering idiots, whereas Moslems seem like a bunch of passionate, narrow-minded, homicidal maniacs, then you will respect the Moslem icons more.
And so the confused and directionless liberal seems to favor the most vicious and illiberal criminal. The sad fact is that most people won’t make a choice until it is forced on them. Until something seems like a live option, such that a binary decision is absolutely necessary, they will just ignore the so-called problem. This is the psychology behind the arguments for and against evolution, atheism, abortion, gay marriage, and every other modern political dichotomy in the US. So the herd leaders expend large amounts of effort to prove that their particular option is not only necessarily distinct and well-formed, but also necessarily right and good, seeing as how it is based on necessary truths.
This brute force method of argument is effective against the apathetic and stupid, especially if they are “creative” types, “science” worshippers, TV addicts, or drunk. It is the primary cause of terrorism paranoia, although it can be linked to all kinds of popular superstitions and political platforms. I reject the premise underlying this entire category of reasoning, since it pretends that people are the same as animals and that reality is the same as logical idealism.
However, it is undeniably successful as a technique for leading cattle peaceably into a slaughterhouse; it provides the narrative structure for almost any coherent movie; and it supports some of the most durable theological systems, such as Wahhabi Islam, Roman Catholicism, Calvinism, and the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection. And it provides the ideological framework for modern US progressivism, in which every transient urge and irrational anxiety is obvious, necessary, and inevitable.