Hypocrisy: The Second Key to Terrorism

What do you call someone who talks the talk but doesn't walk the walk? Or someone who follows "Do as I say, not as I do"? The word that springs to my mind is "hypocrite". At one point, I once thought that fundamentalism was one step away from being a terrorist, but now I'm leaning more towards hypocrisy being the last step before terrorism.

Hypocrisy is enshrined in American culture, often in the form of double standards. For example, it's okay to be fat and balding and be a weatherMAN on national news, but when was the last time you saw a female national news correspondent in any role who was overweight or even greying? Then there's the men who sleep around and are thought of as studs, but the women who sleep around are thought of as sluts. Or how about the fact that birth control pills aren't covered under prescription drug plans for most women but Viagra was covered by every major health plan within a year after entering the market? A black man driving a sporty car through a predominantly white neighborhood is much more likely to get stopped than a white man driving a sporty car through a predominantly black neighborhood. Women, in magazine ads particularly, are often scantily clad while men in the same ad are often not only fully clothed but often wearing jackets or turtlenecks that cover them even more. We see ads on television for products for "feminine itching" and yeast infections, but very rarely do you see one for jock itch powder. Blacks who murder whites are far more likely to end up convicted and/or on death row than whites who murder blacks. These double standards are everywhere around us, but we have become so used to seeing them, so used to that being "the way it always has been" that we don't even notice the hypocrisy that's staring us in our face.

The hypocrisy of the Bush administration (and its supporters) has me almost speechless. We complain loudly when the Iraqi's showed American prisoners of war on television, but we continue to hold hundreds of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay in what amounts to tortuous conditions with no charges filed for more than two years now. Just recently, the US "graciously" released three children who they said no longer constituted a threat to the US, but would not release any information on where they were being released to. Why in God's name is the US government holding CHILDREN in captivity in the first place? Can you imagine the uproar if US children were being held by any foreign government? The administration condemn Saddam's possession of WMDs (which he didn't really have, but hey, that's not the point, right) and yet we possess one of the largest arsenals of WMDs in the world— including more biological and chemical weapons than Saddam could have ever hoped to possess. And we're continuing to build more! (Mother Jones magazine did a story recently on how the US is trying to develop a "crowd control" weapon using Prozac!) Who are we to determine that it's okay for us to have them but not okay for them to have them?

Bush claimed to be a "compassionate conservative", yet while he ordered US soldiers over to Iraq to fight and die for reasons that turned out to be lies, at the same time, he's slashing veterans' benefits and cutting back on services to their families left behind. Bush touts the need to instill democracy and freedoms in Iraq, yet at the same time, suppressing those freedoms at home by prohibiting protesters within sight of his speeches and appearances. After making the unilateral choice (supported only by Britain for the most part) to attack Iraq, the administration now wants the rest of the world and the UN to pay for the cost of rebuilding what the US destroyed. And yet, the American people turn a blind eye to the lies and the hypocrisy of this administration, which in itself is hypocritical.

Then of course there is the hypocrisy of fundamentalism. Until very recently, I thought hypocrisy was inherent to fundamentalism, but it's not. Fundamentalism, while most often thought of in terms of religion, is really much broader than that. It is the line of thinking that says "My way is the only way and everyone who thinks/acts/believes differently from me is not as intelligent as I am." Some fundamentalists— maybe even most fundamentalists— are content to hold to their beliefs and not interfere with the beliefs of others. They may look down on those who hold different beliefs or try to get them to change their beliefs, but if that attempt should fail, they let it drop. These fundamentalists are not hypocrites— they're doing what their beliefs "compel" them to do, but they also respect the rights of others to choose their own beliefs. But there are also those who go beyond talking and attempt to take action to impose their beliefs on others.

There are fundamentalist feminists, whose hypocrisy is evident when they look down on women who choose to be stay at home wives and mothers, forgetting that feminism began as a movement to give women equal opportunity and choices. Some even discriminate against men the way that men discriminated against women by hiring only women lawyers, plumbers, mechanics, etc. or going only to women dentists or doctors. There are fundamentalist gays, who believe that heterosexuals should be sterilized and who see gays as "better" than anyone else. They rail at being called "faggot" or "dyke" but have no issue calling heterosexuals "breeders". There are fundamentalist environmentalists who hammer large spikes into trees (that often eventually kills the tree they were trying to save), taking a human life in their misguided effort to save the life of a tree. There are fundamentalist Republicans who see anyone who disagrees with their position as a communist. The claim to want less government in one's private life, then seek to legislate who you can marry, whether or not you can adopt a child and other issues of morality that the government has no business legislating. The hypocrisy exhibited by every one of these groups is the same: they chose what they believe and what causes to support, yet they are seeking to deny that same choice to others.

Terrorism is violence or intimidation carried out by hypocritical fundamentalists. One can be a hypocrite and not be a terrorist. One can be a fundamentalist and not be a terrorist. But when you put hypocrisy and fundamentalism together, you've got someone who feels their way is the only right way and has no problem with trying to force others to follow those same beliefs. Whether they do it by blaming gays for 9/11 or by flying a plane into a skyscraper, it's still terrorism.

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