Cries of Rage and Frustration

By Armstrong, Karen | New Statesman (1996), September 24, 2001 | Go to article overview

Cries of Rage and Frustration


Armstrong, Karen, New Statesman (1996)


The US is the true home of religious extremism, which begins not as a crusade against outsiders, but as hatred of those of the same faith.

Fundamentalists of all faiths have convinced themselves that militant piety is the only way to save religion from annihilation in an increasingly secularised world. If we are to stand any chance of beating terrorists after the attacks on the United States, we must try to understand their motivation and fears.

This is not a centuries-old phenomenon. Fundamentalism actually began in the US early in the 20th century. Today, it is by no means confined to the Muslim world, but has erupted in every major faith as a reaction against rational, secular modernity. It did not become widespread in the Islamic world until a degree of modernisation had been achieved in the late 1960s, after secular solutions such as nationalism or socialism seemed to have failed.

Wherever a westernised secular state has established itself, a religious fundamentalist movement has developed in conscious rejection. Fundamentalists typically withdraw from mainstream society to create an enclave of pure faith, from the ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities in New York to the training camps of Osama Bin Laden. Surrounded by a world that they perceive as hostile, fundamentalists often plan a counter-offensive, resolved to drag God and religion from the sidelines in secular society and bring them back to centre stage.

In their sacred enclaves, fundamentalists often build a counterculture in conscious opposition. They overemphasise the traditional role of women, for example, because women's emancipation has been a hallmark of modernity. Often, these movements can be seen as the shadow-self of modern society, its distorted mirror image. As a result, many countries find that they are split into hostile camps: those who enjoy and value the ideals of secular humanism, and those who regard it with visceral fear and dread.

This is true of American fundamentalists as well as those in the Middle East. In the US today, about 8 per cent of the population can be described as fundamentalists, but they command widespread support from more conservative Christians in many denominations, as became evident during the rise of the Moral Majority in 1979.

It was American Protestants during the First World War who created the first fundamentalist movement, and who gave us the word "fundamentalist". Their aim was to respond to the liberalisation of their churches by returning to the "fundamentals" of the faith. The word has since been applied to Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish, Sikh and even Confucian groups, which resent this Christian nomenclature, since they feel that they have quite different aims. Nevertheless, the term applies to movements that, for all their differences, bear a strong family resemblance.

As the primordial, archetypal fundamentalism, the American case reveals important aspects of this religious rebellion. First, it always begins as an assault on co-religionists, and is directed against foreigners and outsiders only at a later stage. American fundamentalism began as a battte for the control or the Protestant denominations, which were being controlled by more liberal Christians. It remains primarily an intra-Christian conflict.

Islamic fundamentalists initially directed their efforts against their own countrymen. Thus the movement that eventually gave birth to Hamas began as a revolt against the Palestine Liberation Organisation; members were fighting for the Islamic soul of Palestine, and wanted to give the Palestinian struggle a Muslim, rather than a secularist, identity. Israel recognised this and, at first, funded Hamas to undermine the PLO; it was only after the outbreak of the 1987 intifada that Hamas began to target Israelis.

Bin Laden's early offensive was directed against the regime of Saudi Arabia, which, he believed, had corrupted the Islamic ideal. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Cries of Rage and Frustration
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.