Saturday, November 21, 2015


Reading today’s edition of The Writer’s Almanac, I read that it is the 321st “birthday of the French satirist, philosopher, and social revolutionary, Francois-Marie Arouet,” better known to us as Voltaire. They ended the mini biography with this quote from him:

 “As long as people continue to believe in absurdities, they will continue to commit atrocities.”

Absurdities and atrocities – that speaks to me of many eras of our history. Of names like Hitler, Idi Amin, and others of their ilk who absurdly thought themselves omnipotent. Did I neglect one of your favorites? I’m sure I did: the names, causes and crusades echo back in time.

There is no reasoning with ISIL, ISIS, Da’ish, the Islamic State, the jihadists. They have what are, to most of the rest of the world’s peoples, including the majority of their fellow Moslems, some absurd ideas, including the declaration of themselves as a caliphate. I give you this from the ever-handy Wikipedia: As a caliphate, it claims religious, political and military authority over all Muslims worldwide, and that "the legality of all emirates, groups, states, and organisations, becomes null by the expansion of the khilāfah's [caliphate's] authority and arrival of its troops to their areas".  Oh really? There are too many factors that have contributed to the rise of ISIS. I can’t begin to understand all of it, much less simplify it here.

It just struck me that Voltaire, as a social revolutionary, would be very interested in today’s world scene. He’d understand the absurdity of ISIS’ claims. I also think he’d agree with what I wrote after the Paris atrocities: “Allah would be ashamed of you.” 

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