Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Religious Influence + Weaponry = Terrorism?

In the comments after this post on "honour" killings, brebis noire says among other things that one "can read much of the Old Testament as a recipe for mass genocide."

Islamophobes like Mark Steyn and Kathy Shaidle are prone to screeching and shrieking variations of 'moozlim extremism' whenever it suits their respective political (rightwing neocon) and personal (revenue-generating) agendas.

It seems though that using a work of literature declared "holy" by a particular religious institution or corporation as template for plotting acts of vengeance, fury and violence is nothing new. Religious texts can be exploited as the ideological justification for crusaders' rampage against those labeled pagans, heathens or infidels or blamed as the source for inciting terrorism.

It would be a challenge to identify how - and if - reading the Bible was a determinant factor in the reasoning, as it were, for Howard Barton Unruh's well-planned killing spree on September 6 1949.

Unruh killed five men, five women as well as three young children in New Jersey's Camden area.

An honourably discharged World War II combat veteran and pharmacy student, he had kept a journal of his intended victims for up to a year before the shootings. Those he killed were either intentionally targeted, or were merely unlucky enough to have been in his way.

An expert marksman, Unruh executed his massacre plot in the blue-collar neighbourhood with calm precision. Those he gunned down included a cobbler, a barber, some neighbours who had complained about him playing loud music, and a three-year-old boy peeking out of a window.

A tailor on Unruh's death-list had left his shop on an errand, so he shot the man's bride of six weeks instead, ignoring her pleas for her life.

Unruh - who had been sharing an apartment with his mother at the time of the massacre - told police he was convinced his neighbours were plotting against him. ...

He was described as a recluse who liked to read the Bible and had a passion for guns.

Once more, inspired by Steyn's pithy observation: "Must be convenient to have a [biblical] code that obliges all your pathologies."

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