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Militant atheist Richard Dawkins: Religion is to blame for 9/11, not evil terrorists

Noted biologist-atheist Richard Dawkins recently told an interviewer that the 9/11 hijackers were not inherently evil; rather, their religion was to blame for their actions.

“I think the 9/11 hijackers all sincerely believed that they were doing the right and proper moral, religious thing. They were not in themselves evil. They were following their faith — and faith is pernicious because it can do that to people. It can do that to otherwise decent people.”

Dawkins’ observation, like most of what neo-atheists say, breaks no new ground. Almost 100 years ago, Bertrand Russell, the famous philosopher, mathematician and general know-it-all, explained how morally righteous ideas can become evil deeds if they are believed fanatically enough:

“The principles of the Sermon on the Mount are admirable, but their effect upon average human nature was very different from what was intended. Those who followed Christ did not learn to love their enemies or to turn the other cheek. They learned instead to use the Inquisition and the stake, to subject the human intellect to the yoke of an ignorant and intolerant priesthood, to degrade art and extinguish science for a thousand years. These were the inevitable results, not of the teaching, but of fanatical belief in the teaching.”

Bristol Palin, however, isn’t buying those highfalutin explanations. The daughter of Sarah Palin was mightily offended by what Dawkins said, insisting that the 9/11 terrorists are innately evil— like the Big Bad Wolf, or Freddie Krueger, for example.

She wrote: “This is the problem with radical atheists like Richard Dawkins. Their agenda is to attack people of all faiths. And Dawkins has to fit even something as obviously evil as the terrorist attacks on 9/11 into his own radical agenda. So the radical atheist ends up defending the radical jihadists, because according to his crazy ideas, they aren’t evil — they were just brainwashed.” This viewpoint, she said, is downright disrespectful to the 9/11 victims and their families.

So, on the one hand, we have the religion-made-them-do-it argument, and on the other, the they-are-pure-evil argument.

There’s no doubt that the 9/11 terrorists’ act was evil, and that their fanatic belief in their religion provided them with a cloak of righteousness. However, overlooked in this debate is a third argument — one that was made by the terrorists themselves. Americans are well-known for their historical amnesia, so it’s often forgotten that 9/11 was not the first time terrorists tried to blow up the World Trade Center.

In 1993, a pre-al Qaeda group called the Liberation Army bombed the twin towers and caused extensive damage, killing six people and injuring more than a thousand. And after doing so, the terrorists were kind enough to send a letter to the New York Times, explaining to the American public exactly why they did what they did.

“The American people must know, that their civilians who got killed are not better than those who are getting killed by the American weapons and support,” the letter reads. “The American people are responsible for the actions of their government and they must question all of the crimes that their government is committing against other people.” If they do not, they “will be the targets of our operations.”

Unfortunately, that warning was ignored, and the American government went on treating foreigners killed by American weapons and support as mere “collateral damage.”

Considering the American government’s own fault, simply dismissing terrorists as either religious fanatics or evildoers would be quite disrespectful not only to the victims of the 1993 World Trade Center and 9/11 attacks, but to just about everyone else who has fallen victim to all the untimely and unnecessary killings caused by military intrusions and terrorism.



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