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December 27, 2009

Some Knights—because they view the world in “either/or” terms—can interpret others’ disagreements with them as attacks on them, attacks that warrant a heroic response. These Knights assert that the world—out of ego, selfishness, greed, or lust for power—will persecute them, the righteous. They conclude they should resist or persevere nobly in the face of the onslaught. And they believe that the greater the attacker—and the greater their noble perseverance—the more heroic they are. And that those who make great sacrifices in their efforts to persevere will earn places as honored martyrs.

  • Some American Christian fundamentalists interpret efforts to accommodate greater religious diversity in the United States in recent decades as efforts to push Christianity out of the public square. These fundamentalists assert that there is a “war on Christianity.”  In response, these fundamentalist Knights have politically mobilized to protect Christianity in the United States by “taking back” or “restoring” America to its spiritual roots. Even though these fundamentalist Knights have gained significant influence within all three branches of the federal government in recent years, they continue to claim they are a persecuted minority.
  • Liberal anti-globalization protesters see an interconnected global economy as a threat to the world’s poor, and have mobilized politically to protect them from corporate greed—and the government agencies they believe aid that greed.
  • Osama Bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders believe that a malevolent alliance of “Crusaders and Zionists” (Christians and Jews) is waging a war against Islam, and seek to conquer the Middle East to steal its oil resources. For them, the United States’ invasion of Iraq was definitive proof that this alliance exists—and has begun its long-expected military onslaught. According to them, only pure faith and violent methods will purge non-Islamic influences from Muslim lands, and allow Islamic civilization to flourish again. Al-Qaeda sees itself as a worldwide alliance of daring Muslim heroes that works to defend Islam from evil. Bin Laden’s deputy Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri outlined this view in his first book, Knights Under The Prophet’s Banner.

Knights like these see themselves as heroic defenders, and object to being cast as trying to conquer and convert an entire world. Fundamentalists like al-Qaeda or conservative American Christian evangelicals do not want to establish a theocracy in their regions. They want a world safe enough for them that establishment of a theocracy is not necessary. Similarly, liberal anti-globalization protesters do not want to destroy the global economy; they want a global economy that does not threaten the poor.

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