The horror in Nice, France yesterday reminded the world again that religious fanatics are amongst the most dangerous threats to our survival as a species.
Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, likely a fanatical Islamist, killed over 80 people on Bastille day (French National Day) by mowing them down with a large truck driven at high speed. Many children were killed in the horrific attack, and France finds itself again at the center of a raging war between secular, liberal values and Islamic fundamentalism.
As my colleague and friend Bob Cesca eloquently argued recently, despite the left’s attempts to downplay the threat Islamic law presents to human life, it is unarguably a uniquely dangerous ideology that again is responsible for the deaths of untold innocent lives. While there are many beautiful components of Islam, much of it is horrendously barbaric and idiotic, and to pretend otherwise is to display breathtaking cognitive dissonance.
However, while I could focus on the dangers of Islam, there is an even greater threat to the human race that goes beyond individual religion or political belief systems — and that is ideology itself.
Over the past few weeks, we have seen 49 people die at the hands of an Islamic militant in Florida, 5 innocent policemen killed in Dallas by a self proclaimed Black Lives Matters militant, and now the brutal assault on French lives in Nice.
No doubt each murderer had their own unique interpretation of whatever ideology they happened to adhere to, but they had one thing in common: they deemed their beliefs to be more important than human life.
This certainty that an ideology trumps life is what has caused war after war after war. Religion has been a major culprit in human history, but communism, socialism, fascism and capitalism have had their fair share of extreme violence. Millions of Russians died because Communists believed so strongly in the values of Marxism, and while we used to invade countries in order to convert them to Christianity, we do it now in order to build shopping malls and hawk Coca Cola.
In our hyperconnected world and a million scam artists selling their belief systems, there is literally an unlimited supply of ideologies to choose from. You can be a Scientologist, a radical vegan, a Jiu Jitsu disciple, or a Catholic. You can be a black militant, a white militant or a Jewish militant. And once you have chosen your dogma, you will be rewarded for the militancy of your dedication to it. There is of course a huge difference in terms of outcome (Islamic radicals are murdering psychopaths, while vegan militants are usually just highly irritating), but the unwavering belief in the supremacy of their ideology is just as stupid.
There is no doubt that some ideologies are better than others, but to take any one belief system and herald it as the ultimate truth is to give up your own autonomy as a free thinking human being. Why? Because all ideologies are man made, and therefore fallible. Humans invented Christianity, Hinduism, Communism, Veganism and Capitalism. They were not birthed into existence by a supreme creator (despite militant ideologues attempts to convince you otherwise), so they can never be trusted as anything other than a clumsy attempt to pin down the ‘ultimate truth’, whatever that is.
The Czech statesman Václav Havel was once quoted as saying:
Seek the company of those who search for truth; run from those who have found it.
And if you can’t do that, then at least rule out the ones that would have you kill another human being because he or she dares to have a different belief system to your own.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.