Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Splendid Sentences, Part 5: Andrew Sullivan on Religious Fundamentalism

Here is the penultimate sentence of Andrew Sullivan's 4,272 essay "This Is a Religious War" (The New York Times, October 7, 2001):
We are fighting for religion against one of the deepest strains in religion there is. 
In this article, Sullivan claims that religion is at the core of the United States-led Middle East war, despite claims to the contrary by politicians across the world. It's a powerful concluding sentence considering it appeared in print less than a month after the September 11 terrorist attacks, when America was still enraged about what happened, confused as to why it happened, uncertain about what to do in its wake, and divided about how long any effort to avenge the terrorist acts would take.

The sentence is also profound. It turns religion on its head. It asserts that the United States, a purportedly secular society, is engaged in a holy war of sorts against a movement that makes no illusions about its divine edict to destroy infidels. Such wars, which at their root show total contempt for reason, are likely to cause more senseless bloodshed and global instability than most. They amount to a zero-sum approach to resolving differences in which losers take nothing and everyone is a loser.