Had today's technophobic zealots [environmental activists] been in charge in previous centuries, we would have to roll human progress back to the Middle Ages - and beyond, since even fire, the wheel and organic farming pose risks, and none would have passed the "absolute safety" test the zealots demand. Putting them in charge now would mean an end to progress, and perpetual deprivation for inhabitants of developing nations.
The intellectual ... may live for ideas, as I have said, but something must prevent him from living for one idea, from becoming obsessive or grotesque. Although there have been zealots whom we may still regard as intellectuals, zealotry is a defect of the breed and not of the essence.
One would fancy that the zealots in atheism would be exempt from the single fault which seems to grow out of the imprudent fervor of religion. But so it is, that irreligion is propagated with as much fierceness and contention, wrath and indignation, as if the safety of mankind depended upon it.
In the fevered state of our country, no good can ever result from any attempt to set one of these fiery zealots to rights, either in fact or principle. They are determined as to the facts they will believe, and the opinions on which they will act. Get by them, therefore, as you would by an angry bull; it is not for a man of sense to dispute the road with such an animal.
I have long said there are three distinct groups under the GOP's tent: theological warriors, who want to impose their social views on the rest of society; Tea Party zealots, who say with a straight face that they want the government to get out of their Medicare; and remnants of the pro-business moderates.
Some 'separation' zealots would expunge any vestige of religious observance in public schools. Many of the same anti-religious fanatics would like to wipe out of existence all church-related schools, by regulation or taxation, so that universal ignorance of the life of spirit should prevail.
Islam doesn't have to mean blind faith. It can mean what it always meant in your family, a culture, a civilization, as open-minded as your grandfather was, as delightedly disputatious as your father was.... Don't let the zealots make Muslim a terrifying word, I urged myself; remember when it meant family.
Having lost faith in all else, zealots have nothing left but a holy cause to please a warrior God. They win if we become holy warriors, too; if we kill the innocent as they do; strike first at those who had not struck us; allow our leaders to use the fear of terrorism to make us afraid of the truth; cease to think and reason together, allowing others to tell what's in God's mind.
We humans are naturally disposed to worship gods and heroes, to build our pantheons and valhallas. I would rather see that impulse directed into the adoration of daft singers, thicko footballers and air-headed screen actors than into the veneration of dogmatic zealots, fanatical preachers, militant politicians and rabid cultural commentators.
These individuals are tyrants, and so they hate democracy. They are bigots, zealots, and persecutors, and so they hate Americas freedom tolerance, and respect for all people. The terrorists of Sept. 11 live and flourish in darkness. They cannot survive in the liberating and inspirational sunlight of American freedom and democracy.
Men who find themselves late are never sure. They are all the things the civics books tell us the good citizen should be: partisans but never zealots, respectors of the facts which attend each situation but never benders of those facts, uncomfortable in positions of leadership but rarely unable to turn down a responsibility once it has been offered . . . or thrust upon them. They make the best leaders in a democracy because they are unlikely to fall in love with power.
Men who find themselves late are never sure. They are all the things the civics books tell us the good citizen should be: partisans but never zealots, respectors of the facts which attend each situation but never benders of those facts, uncomfortable in positions of leadership but rarely unable to turn down a responsibility once it has been offered... or thrust upon them. They make the best leaders in a democracy because they are unlikely to fall in love with power.
To be honest, one can only feel glad that so many modern iconoclasts consider Christianity to be full of exceptionally hypocritical, religious zealots - it's biblically accurate and a prophecy fulfilled. The old smoke screen is one of Satan's favorite tricks. He conceals the authentic. He has a persistent strategy of targeting those who remind him of Christianity because he fears those who remind him of Christ.
Christianity may be good and Satanism evil. Under the Constitution, however, both are neutral. This is an important, but difficult, concept for many law enforcement officers to accept. They are paid to uphold the penal code, not the Ten Commandments ... The fact is that far more crime and child abuse has been committed by zealots in the name of God, Jesus and Mohammed than has ever been committed in the name of Satan. Many people don't like that statement, but few can argue with it.
I remember walking into the Bible study. I had a knot in my stomach. In my mind, only weirdoes and zealots went to Bible studies. I don't remember what was said that day. All I know is that when I left, everything had changed. I'll never forget standing outside that apartment on the Upper East Side and saying to myself, "It's true. It's completely true." The world looked entirely different, like a veil had been lifted off it. I had not an iota of doubt. I was filled with indescribable joy.
It is common knowledge that Saudi Arabia is the most extremist of the Muslim States. It finances the infamous Madrassas (schools) that preach a litany of hate and turn out thousands of fanatical Islamic zealots. It indirectly provides the funding and its' citizens provide most of the fighters for Bin Laden's Al-Qaeda organization. It supports, financially and by other means, the Palestinian terrorists and other Muslim anti-Western groups throughout the world.
James Byron Bissett
Here is how you know someone has had a good idea: Other people freely admit to their friends that said idea has changed their lives. Most people today will grant that fire and the wheel are the big two. After that, any attempts to rank the greatest ideas of all time are going to draw lots of argument. You'll have zealots pimping this god or that on the one hand, scientists pimping Darwin on the other, and then practical people pointing at written language and saying, look, fellas, the reason those ideas have gone viral is because someone figured out how to write them down.
They knew that to put God in the constitution was to put man out. They knew that the recognition of a Deity would be seized upon by fanatics and zealots as a pretext for destroying the liberty of thought. They knew the terrible history of the church too well to place in her keeping or in the keeping of her God the sacred rights of man. They intended that all should have the right to worship or not to worship that our laws should make no distinction on account of creed. They intended to found and frame a government for man and for man alone. They wished to preserve the individuality of all to prevent the few from governing the many and the many from persecuting and destroying the few.
Robert G. Ingersoll
Looking at Great-Great Grandpa Baldwin's photograph, I think to myself: You've finally done it. It took four generations, but you've finally goddamned done it. Gotten that war against reason and uppity secularists you always wanted. Gotten even for the Scopes trial, which they say was one of many burrs under your saddle until your last breath. Well, rejoice, old man, because your tribes have gathered around America's oldest magical hairball of ignorance and superstition, Christian fundamentalism, and their numbers have enabled them to suck so much oxygen out of the political atmosphere that they are now acknowledged as a mainstream force in politics. Episcopalians, Jews, and affluent suburban Methodists and Catholics, they are all now scratching their heads, sweating, and swearing loudly that this pack of lower-class zealots cannot possibly represent the mainstream-not the mainstream they learned about in their fancy sociology classes or were so comfortably reassured about by media commentators who were people like themselves. Goodnight, Grandpa Baldwin. I'll toast you from hell.
There exists in society a very special class of persons that I have always referred to as the Believers. These are folks who have chosen to accept a certain religion, philosophy, theory, idea or notion and cling to that belief regardless of any evidence that might, for anyone else, bring it into doubt. They are the ones who encourage and support the fanatics and the frauds of any given age. No amount of evidence, no matter how strong, will bring them any enlightenment. They are the sheep who beg to be fleeced and butchered, and who will battle fiercely to preserve their right to be victimized... patent offices handle an endless succession of inventors who still produce perpetual-motion machines that don't work, but no number of idle flywheels will convince these zealots of their folly; dozens of these patent applications flow in every year. In ashrams all over the world, hopping devotees of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi will never abandon their goal of blissful levitation of their bodies by mind power, despite bruises and sprains aplenty suffered as they bounce about on gym mats like demented (though smiling) frogs, trying to get airborne. Absolutely nothing will discourage them.
never [enter] into dispute or argument with another. I never saw an instance of one of two disputants convincing the other by argument. I have seen many, on their getting warm, becoming rude, & shooting one another... When I hear another express an opinion which is not mine, I say to myself, he has a right to his opinion, as I to mine; why should I question it? His error does me no injury, and shall I become a Don Quixote, to bring all men by force of argument to one opinion?... There are two classes of disputants most frequently to be met with among us. The first is of young students, just entered the threshold of science, with a first view of its outlines, not yet filled up with the details & modifications which a further progress would bring to their knoledge. The other consists of the ill-tempered & rude men in society, who have taken up a passion for politics... Consider yourself, when with them, as among the patients of Bedlam, needing medical more than moral counsel. Be a listener only, keep within yourself, and endeavor to establish with yourself the habit of silence, especially on politics. In the fevered state of our country, no good can ever result from any attempt to set one of these fiery zealots to rights, either in fact or principle. They are determined as to the facts they will believe, and the opinions on which they will act. Get by them, therefore, as you would by an angry bull; it is not for a man of sense to dispute the road with such an animal.
Extremism stifles true progression in all fields of human advancement; it is a detriment to everything but war, tribalism and the personal power of Nietzschean entities, striving only for the narcissistic vindication of their ego and will. The enlightened mind knows that all is challengeable, ergo questions all and thus, learns and grows; progression. The weak and narrow mind makes its beliefs sacrosanct; fearful of challenge, their creed becomes unalterable, defended with violence. Political extremists, much like religious zealots, are the latter. They destroy what they cannot convert. They annihilate those they cannot control, or force to conform. They have found no peace in life, no love, and so promote war and division, as emotional cripples - inflicting their own pain and misery and malignant stupidity on the world. Their language binds people together, but only by stirring the darkest excesses of the soul; language of hate, and intolerance, fear and conspiracy, and the need for vengeance. In war-scarred Europe, these cripples direct mass-psychology, and would make the world in their own likeness; mutilated by violence and tribalism and hate.
Daniel S. Fletcher
It is their usual reaction; they employ not words and reasoned conversation or discourse to resolve problems, but the truncheon, the jackbooted foot, or the gun. Sophistication requires more competence and skill than mere thuggery. It is a harder, loftier charge to be civilised than to let the beast in man devour man. The enlightened mind knows that all is challengeable, questions all, and thus, learns and grows. The weak, narrow mind makes its beliefs - whatever form they take - sacrosanct, defending them with violence if necessary. Political extremists, much like religious zealots, are the latter. They destroy what they cannot convert. They annihilate those they cannot control or make conform. They have found no peace in life, no love, and so promote war and division, as emotional cripples - inflicting their own pain and misery and malignant stupidity on the world. Their language binds people together, but only by stirring the darkest excesses of the soul; language of hate, and intolerance, fear and conspiracy, and the need for vengeance. In war-scarred Europe, these cripples direct mass-psychology, and would make the world in their own likeness; mutilated by violence and tribalism and hate. They use language in its most evil, twisted form. They appeal to the lowest form of understanding, on a level I hesitate to allow for the term 'human intelligence' to be associated. Children, fertile minds ripe for molestation. Now they will be taught what to think, not how to think. Language, that twisted poison. It scars purity.
Daniel S. Fletcher
Long before it was known to me as a place where my ancestry was even remotely involved, the idea of a state for Jews (or a Jewish state; not quite the same thing, as I failed at first to see) had been 'sold' to me as an essentially secular and democratic one. The idea was a haven for the persecuted and the survivors, a democracy in a region where the idea was poorly understood, and a place where-as Philip Roth had put it in a one-handed novel that I read when I was about nineteen-even the traffic cops and soldiers were Jews. This, like the other emphases of that novel, I could grasp. Indeed, my first visit was sponsored by a group in London called the Friends of Israel. They offered to pay my expenses, that is, if on my return I would come and speak to one of their meetings. I still haven't submitted that expenses claim. The misgivings I had were of two types, both of them ineradicable. The first and the simplest was the encounter with everyday injustice: by all means the traffic cops were Jews but so, it turned out, were the colonists and ethnic cleansers and even the torturers. It was Jewish leftist friends who insisted that I go and see towns and villages under occupation, and sit down with Palestinian Arabs who were living under house arrest-if they were lucky-or who were squatting in the ruins of their demolished homes if they were less fortunate. In Ramallah I spent the day with the beguiling Raimonda Tawil, confined to her home for committing no known crime save that of expressing her opinions. (For some reason, what I most remember is a sudden exclamation from her very restrained and respectable husband, a manager of the local bank: 'I would prefer living under a Bedouin muktar to another day of Israeli rule!' He had obviously spent some time thinking about the most revolting possible Arab alternative.) In Jerusalem I visited the Tutungi family, who could produce title deeds going back generations but who were being evicted from their apartment in the old city to make way for an expansion of the Jewish quarter. Jerusalem: that place of blood since remote antiquity. Jerusalem, over which the British and French and Russians had fought a foul war in the Crimea, and in the mid-nineteenth century, on the matter of which Christian Church could command the keys to some 'holy sepulcher.' Jerusalem, where the anti-Semite Balfour had tried to bribe the Jews with the territory of another people in order to seduce them from Bolshevism and continue the diplomacy of the Great War. Jerusalem: that pest-house in whose environs all zealots hope that an even greater and final war can be provoked. It certainly made a warped appeal to my sense of history.