LETTER: A flawed interpretation of extremism

All neatly tied together with a flawed interpretation of extremism as a seeming centerpiece of this entire disjointed histrionics...

At first glance, John Redekop’s Sept 17 letter appears to be a legitimate response to Mark Rushton’s Sept 10 column. However, having already enjoyed Mark’s article, it quickly became clear that very little accurately reflected Mark’s words.

Mr. Redekop quotes Mark’s impressive insight into the true underlying motivation that was the driving force behind the abhorrent acts of the Sept 11 terrorists as power and control. (Although under the guise of religion, hence, the word belief in the 5th from last paragraph is in quotation marks) Mr. Redekop acknowledges that Mark does not blame religion.

Mr. Redekop then proceeds to refute such a claim, insisting that (contrary to Mark) religion motivated the attack. His “evidence”? Apparently “Allahu Akbar” was shouted. This expression, though fairly unambiguous, is used in a variety of different situations. Notably, in a time of distress, also, when facing imminent death, as a last rights of sorts. Mr. Redekop’s premise is weak, wrought with hindsight bias and recklessly blurs the distinction between correlation and causation.

Most disturbing, to me, are Mr. Redekop’s erroneous allegations that accuse Mark of making assertions and attributions that can in no way be inferred, directly or indirectly, based on the column to which he makes reference.

Firstly, “Mark correctly asserts” to instill fear as intended by the terrorists – WRONG – correctly or incorrectly, Mark said nothing of the sort.  His mentions of fear are in the context of a result of the tragedy, not as an intention of the terrorists.  Mark’s stance on fear as a motivating factor is not even hinted at in his column.

Secondly, “Mark attributes guilt to religious extremists, those who hold to the belief in religious supremacy”.  This one’s loaded.  Again, the word “guilt” is not even written in his column!  Not even a  word that is synonymous with guilt! Furthermore, this is where Mr. Redekop’s flawed interpretation is first exposed: religious extremists = those who hold to the belief in religious supremacy (I must further clarify, I believe that religious supremacy exists, yet disagree with the concept. Taken literally, however, I fall into the “believe in” category. Therefore, by his interpretation, would be mislabelled an extremist)

Finally, Mr. Redekop’s examples of religious “extremists”: Mother Teresa? She famously questioned her faith throughout her last 50 years. (perhaps Mr. Redekop should follow his own advice and read a biography).  Martin Luther King? Humanitarian, civil rights activist. Though motivated as such partly based on his Christian beliefs, to label him a religious extremist is uncouth, at best.  And his final suggestion to Mark “If (he) want(s) to know what these religious “extremists” are like”, visit a Sikh Gurdwara!  By definition an extremist is far outside the norm!  Need I even point out just how illogical it is to refer to every member of the Sikh religion an extremist?

In closing, without exception, Mr. Redekop’s  purported reasons to “question (Mark’s) assertions” were based on absolute non-truths and then supported with non-examples! All neatly tied together with a flawed interpretation of extremism as a seeming centerpiece of this entire disjointed histrionics.

Tiffany Kraft