There is an idiom first attributed to Indiana poet James Whitcomb Riley (1849-1916) that says, “If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.” The aptly named “Duck test” is a form of abudctive reasoning that implies it is easy for anyone to identify an unknown subject by observing that subject’s habitual characteristics.
Recently, there has been an increase in the number of Americans who recognize that there is negligible difference, if any at all, between the dreaded ISIS, American right-wing-nuts, and now Saudi Arabia. Since the three groups, although not related, all share the same characteristics, they can be easily identified as practicing religious extremists. Just one aspect connecting the three closely-aligned groups is enforcing religious edicts and imposing extraordinarily harsh punishment for non-compliance. It is true that in America the government is not yet terrorizing or killing citizens for violating evangelical “religious laws,” but that action is increasingly the purview of armed religious maniacs; more on that later.
One thing is certain; it is very unpopular to point out to religious extremists that they are acting precisely like extremists in the Islamic State (ISIS, IS, ISIL). There was a news item that Republicans likely forbade corporate media to report because although Saudi Arabia imposes extraordinarily harsh death penalties for violating religious laws, the “Kingdom” is a major defense industry customer. Republicans epitomize hypocrisy as a matter of course, but while they complain that ISIS beheads people for not adhering to their religious beliefs, they turn a blind eye when Saudi Arabia does exactly the same thing.
Two weeks ago a Saudi court sentenced a Palestinian man to death by beheading for apostasy based on alleged “blasphemous statements” during a discussion group and in a book of his poetry. The condemned poet, Ashraf Fayadh, claims another man made false accusations to the country’s religious police following a personal dispute. Now, what connects Saudis directly to ISIS is their implementation of dreaded “religious police” that monitor the population for non-compliance to religious edicts and metes out punishment; often in the form of a proper public beheading. One might wonder why Republicans are not clamoring to invade Saudi Arabia or bomb them into the Stone Age, but they receive for free, and spend a significant amount of money on, American-made weapons of war. It is also very possible that Republicans are terrified of Saudi Arabia suing them in court if they dare call out their ISIS-like behavior; something the “Kingdom” has already threatened.
Earlier this week, after the Saudi Arabian religious courts handed down the death sentence, international human rights organizations and “legions of Twitter and other social media users” condemned the religious death sentence as “ISIS-like.” It is entirely possible that Saudis are unfamiliar with the storied “Duck Test,” but to a substantial number of people if they talk like ISIS and behead people for religious non-compliance like ISIS, they are ISIS-like.
Saudis do not see it that way and a source for the Saudi justice ministry threatened anyone comparing Saudi beheading for religious non-compliance with ISIS beheading for religious non-compliance. The Saudi said,
“The justice ministry will sue the person who described the sentencing of a man to death for apostasy as being `Isis-like.’ Questioning the fairness of the courts is to question the justice of the Kingdom and its judicial system based on Islamic law, which guarantees rights and ensures human dignity. The Kingdom’s courts would not hesitate to put on trial any media that slandered the religious judiciary of the Kingdom.”
For the record, no-one is “slandering” the religious judiciary of the Kingdom; they are just using abductive reasoning and the Duck Test to determine that beheading someone for religious non-compliance is ISIS-like. Something the Kingdom’s religious ministry is likely unaware of is that, at least for the time being, Americans are guaranteed freedom of speech that includes making comparisons the Saudi religious judiciary believes is “slander.” It is the “real” definition of a “system which guarantees rights and ensures human dignity,” and it is the American system the fanatical evangelical right cannot and will not countenance; and they have an unofficial religious police force doing their bidding. Yesterday it was at work at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs.
America’s religious police, although not official and blatantly un-Constitutional, are no less dangerous than Saudi or ISIS religious police; they are just constrained by law enforcement but not the law or Constitution. The events in Colorado Springs demonstrate that like ISIS inciting terrorism toward innocents, the anti-women’s choice evangelicals have concluded that “questioning their judicial system based on biblical law” warrants bringing a gun or Molotov cocktail to impose punishment on religious non-compliance. In the case of evangelicals attacking women’s health clinics, or putting out contracts on medical providers, they regard women choosing a religiously unapproved legal medical procedure are guilty and warrant the death sentence; albeit without the beheading.
Although the Colorado Springs shooter’s motive is not yet officially known, there have been plenty of cases of religion-driven attacks on women’s health clinics across the nation and they are on the rise. Some anti-choice activists have went so far as engage in criminal solicitations seeking assassins to kill medical providers in the name of religion; including giving out pertinent information on the identity and location of the “alleged” apostates violating the evangelical religious edicts against women’s choice.
If Republicans in particular, and Washington leaders in general, refuse to condemn the Saudis and American evangelical anti-choice movement for “ISIS-like” behavior, then they lose all credibility in criticizing the Islamic State. No matter how one goes about determining the identity of a person, a religion, a movement or a government, in the case of religious police imposing death sentences on non-compliance it does not matter who they are or where they live; if they act like ISIS, they are ISIS-like.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.