Something that has long puzzled me also puzzles Michael Liccione. Mike puts it like this:
Shouldn't liberals be the most concerned about Islamic fundamentalism, given that the things they profess to value are the first things they would lose under Islamist pressure? It's hard to avoid the conclusion that this sort of liberal hates political conservatives and orthodox Christians more than he loves his own liberty. And he wishes to cling desperately to his own self-image as a defender of the poor, oppressed minorities, even when some of those poor, oppressed minorities would just as soon see him and his kind swinging from the gallows.
Substantially correct. But if I may quibble, 'Islamic fundamentalism' may not be the right term. Better would be 'militant Islam' or 'radical Islam' or 'Islamism.' A fundamentalist, as I understand the word, is one who interprets the scriptures of his religion literally, as God's own inerrant word. Thus Islam, if I am not mistaken, holds that the Koran was literally dictated by God to Muhammad in Arabic. Whatever one thinks of fundamentalists in this sense, it seems obvious that they should not be confused with militants or terrorists. Although fundamentalists and terrorists are sets with a non-null intersection, there are fundamentalists who are not terrorists and terrorists who are not fundamentalists.
It is important to try to think as clearly and precisely as one can about these issues, distinguishing the different, and forging one's terminology in the the teeth of these differences. And the more 'hot-button' the issue, the more necessary is clear and precise thinking.
Benedict de Spinoza, A Theologico-Political Treatise, Ch. XIV, Dover, 1951, tr. Elwes, p. 182:
. . . a person who accepted promiscuously everything in Scripture as being the universal and absolute teaching of God, without accurately defining what was adapted to the popular intelligence, would find it impossible to escape confounding the opinions of the masses with the Divine doctrines, praising the judgments and comments of man as the teaching of God, and making a wrong use of Scriptural authority. Who, I say, does not perceive that this is the chief reason why so many sectaries teach contradictory opinions as Divine documents, and support their contentions with numerous Scriptural texts, till it has passed in Belgium into a proverb, geen ketter sonder letter -- no heretic without a text?
Eminently incorporable in a post contra fundamentalism.