Fundamentalists. Every place has it's own brand of fundies. The creepier sort are scaring the living daylights out of liberals across America these days. Then again, living as I am in the sort of soft theocracy the Christian Right wishes it could get its grubby hands on, the Israeli fundies are quite a piece of work.
Those who've worked with me at public outreach events for the astronomy department know that I sometimes enjoy myself entirely too much at the expense of the creationist fools who pop up whenever you mention the Big Bang. After all, there I am giving a bunch of kids a slide show about the nine-ish planets or showing them how to use a telescope -- kids who, I should point out, might grow up to be scientists, or at the very least citizens who appreciate that science just might be a useful aspect of modern civilization that deserves a bit of support.
Then up walks some oaf who wants to chat about how he's sure I didn't really mean it when I mentioned that the Earth is several billion years old, and could I please make that clearer next time I give one of these talks. Or the middle-aged mom with the pinched face who's annoyed that she drove her kids out to some park to have fun looking at the stars, only to be assailed by all kinds of talk about evolution. On the whole, nice folks who through no particular fault of their own are egregiously ignorant about the world around them.
Out on the Internet is where the real wackos congregate. There's not a biologist online who doesn't deal with 'em on a regular basis, and us astrophysicists aren't far behind. PZ Myers of Pharyngula, as an evolutionary biologist with a high-profile blog, gets it worse than most. So I was delighted the other day when he pulled out a new weapon in his arsenal -- the Index to Creationist Claims, an encyclopedic taxonomy of stupid things that anti-science types tend to spout. They're putting it out in book form this summer; just in time to pick up a copy to bring to summer outreach events.
Of course, these days America's most dangerous fundies are all engaged in politics. The Schiavo debacle has put them in the spotlight of late, although I would imagine more recent events have taken care of that. Majikthise elegantly condensed the rhetoric being directed at the judiciary by Republicans in the aftermath: "That's a nice lifetime appointment you got there, Your Honor. It'd be a real shame if anything were to happen to it...".
However, let's just keep a sense of proportion here. According to today's Ha'aretz:
The Shin Bet security service has raised the level of alert in Jerusalem amid indications that extremist Jews are planning to carry out an attack on the mosques of the Temple Mount, and on the basis of new intelligence has beefed up police and security around the site in the heart of the Old City.
Meanwhile, the Islamic Movement's northern branch, which has made protection of the Al-Aqsa mosque the centerpiece of its activities, has called on Israeli Arab Muslims to flock to the Old City site to protect it from Jewish extremists.
Police on Wednesday announced plans to close the Temple Mount compound to Jews on Sunday, when a right-wing extremist group called Revava was planning to hold a mass rally there. Police fear the activists could clash with Muslim worshipers.
Thankfully, the wider world seems finally to be taking note of the absurd, and extremely volatile, situation being created by these Zionist fundamentalists. This week, Frontline aired an excellent documentary on them. In case you missed it, you can watch the whole thing online. You should, too. It's important.