God in a binary number
During my long week of ill health, I cleared out most of my DVR, including the several episodes of Real Time with Bill Maher. Maher is a fifty-fifty pundit–he has just enough information to ask questions, to make a joke or two, but never enough to be truly informed. That being said, he sure can build a panel.
On 10/02/09, Maher had a panel that included Thomas Friedman. (Download it here, subscribe to the audio podcast via iTunes or here.) Friedman is a columnist for the New York Times whose subject, generally, is economics as well as foreign policy. He had a very insightful take on suicide bombers, and Islam, and the Muslim world:
Thomas Friedman: I mean, just remember that a lot of the suicide bombing that’s going on today is inside of Pakistan, and is Sunnis against Shiites. It’s inside Iraq, Sunnis against Shiites. I think foreign policy is part of it, I think that’s one of the things that feeds it. I think that, also, religion is something that feeds it. But to me, it’s–another part of this is a deep sense–it goes back to the religion–is that these young men are raised with the view that they have the most–that Islam, and this is not a criticism–is that Islam sees itself as the most perfect expression of God’s monotheistic message.
If I were to put it in computer terms, Islam sees itself as God 3.0. It sees Christianity as God 2.0. it sees Judaism as God 1.0, and Hinduism as God 0.0. And I think part of the dissonance, Bill, is that when they come here or to Europe, in their identity they have the most perfect system. But in real life, their countries are economically behind, in terms of education [they’re] behind. And there’s a real dissonance: if I have the most perfect operating system, why am I behind?
And I think that produces a lot of rage too. It is about foreign policy, it is about what we do. And it’s also about how much they hate their own government, who also keep them down, oppressed, behind.
Is he right, do you think? Or is that too simplistic?