Fundamentalism is a marvellous thing.
No struggling with inconvenient truths about views that don’t quite add up. Awkward aspects of a position can just be pushed aside as irrelevant if they don’t fit the argument and of course there must be no hint at all of anything approaching self-doubt. Listen to some of those involved in any fundamentalist group and the overriding message is clear: “We are right and anyone who disagrees is simply wrong.”
Fundamentalism can reveal itself in numerous forms. In the extreme, one manifestation is what some would see as the next logical step, which is that anything done in the name of their ‘cause’ must therefore be justified. Violence to people or property is not uncommon, nor is the weapon of intimidation – the most horrific example of a combination of all three having occurred in Paris just days ago.
Another incident, though of course not on the same scale, nevertheless follows that pattern of peddling hate. Comments of delight made by some anti-hunters were made via the internet following the death of Gemma McCormick, Joint Master of the Cottesmore Hunt. Gemma tragically died in a riding accident at the opening meet of the Fitzwilliam Hunt a few weeks ago.
Despite the fact that she was hunting within the law – just as the Hunting Act and its anti-hunting promoters demand – she was still regarded by fundamentalists as a target for hate. That speaks volumes about the motivation of some of these “compassionate” people, who clearly have no concerns about grieving relatives and have obviously swallowed the propaganda produced by anti-hunt groups that most hunts are breaking the law by pursuing a live quarry.
The fundamentalist mustn’t be deterred from achieving his or her goal and if that means bribing politicians then so be it. In June this year a meeting took place between a Scottish National Party MP and an anti-hunting group linked to the Political Animal Lobby (PAL) – a body that had donated £1 million to the Labour Party before it introduced the Hunting Act. The SNP leader, Nicola Sturgeon, said in February, “The SNP have a long-standing position of not voting on matters that purely affect England — such as fox-hunting south of the border, for example — and we stand by that.” But she didn’t stand by that and now it’s been revealed that the SNP received a donation of £10,000 from PAL. Money and fundamentalism is a toxic mix.
Language, too, can feed fundamentalism. I doubt that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s opposition to a police ‘shoot to kill’ policy has done much to make any would-be terrorist think again about committing another heinous act of barbarism and I’m fairly sure that shadow chancellor John McDonnell’s call for MI5 to be disbanded will not be seen as a peace offering by any mad jihadist. At a different level, comparing people who hunt with rapists, murderers and child abusers, as one academic did, can only fire up the more extreme anti-hunt individuals and I wonder if the RSPCA is happy with its Vice-President, Brian May, calling all hunt supporters bastards?
Then there is the low-level fundamentalism of just being so blinkered that history is re-written when it doesn’t suit. The validity of an article about Richard Martin, the Member of Parliament who championed the first animal welfare legislation back in the early 1800s was recently questioned. (https://jamesbarrington.wordpress.com/2011/08/24/humanity-dick-martin/) Martin’s original law provided the basis for further legislation that led to the outlawing of the baiting “sports” and he helped create the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, later becoming the RSPCA. What clearly stuck in this doubter’s throat was the fact that Martin was a foxhunter.
As so often is the case, the person making the challenge hid his or her real identity by using a pseudonym and soon other keyboard warriors on social media had joined in the chase, “Where is documentary evidence that Richard Martin MP: a) Founded SPCA b) Hunted Foxes? #CAlies”
“We all know Martin myth came from you Barrington. He’d turn in his grave if knew CA trying to use him.”
Even Brian May’s ‘Save Me’ campaign chipped in, “Hunts, Stunts & Spin at it again, trying to support a cruel pastime with lies as its all they have.”
Clearly, in-depth research is not something fundamentalists like to do – probably finds too many inconsistencies – so the keyboard warriors had a short period tweeting and retweeting what they thought was a nice little story about nasty pro-hunters denigrating a key person in the history of animal welfare. It was short lived however, because Richard Martin was indeed a hunter and a shooter, a fact confirmed in numerous books about his life and the history of animal welfare legislation. If they had bothered to look a little harder, they would have discovered that Martin, like many other individuals at the time who were concerned about animal suffering, saw the horrendous cruelty inflicted on domestic animals every minute of every day as rightly being the priority.
Indeed, it could very well be the case that had it not been for the support from such hunting people, that first animal welfare law put forward by Martin may not have been passed in 1822.
So back to our fundamentalist friend who, despite being given references proving Richard Martin was a foxhunter, still refuses to believe the fact. At least he (or she) is continuing to adhere to the spirit of fundamentalism, which is to never accept any evidence, no matter how compelling, that you might just be wrong. No doubt such people feel much happier in that strange little fantasy world.
All this is far from those who hold strong views, as most of us do on various issues, yet are prepared to listen to alternative arguments. This is blind faith that dares not even question a belief even if a stack of evidence points in the other direction. Best of all, it allows you to believe what you want to believe, regardless of the facts.
Yes, fundamental world certainly is a very easy and comfortable place in which to live.