July 29, 2003

Clash of Cultures

It annoys me to realize that Osama bin Laden is right in one way: this war is a culture clash between fundamentalist Islam (militant Islamism, for lack of a better term) and the Enlightenment West. Both civilizations will come out of the clash changed, and one will come out overthrown and replaced with a culture more like that of their foes. The pssibility of militant Islamism winning is terrible to contemplate, and so I focus on how the West can defeat the Islamists, preserving our Liberal, Enlightenment culture and reforming their repressive and backwards-focused culture.

I hope that Tarek Heggy's ideas of Muslim alternatives to Islamic fundamentalism are being voiced in the Middle East, as well as in the West. I hope that we have the wisdom to recognize those voices, and to support them where we find them.

I think that it's inevitable that Islamic societies will have to undergo a reformation, and it's good to know that there are Islamic traditions which would facilitate this - and even the more radical reform of an Islamic Enlightenment. The alternative is terrible to contemplate, because the US is not going to leave the Arabs alone, sitting on a sea of oil (and thus cash), with the will to acquire nuclear weapons, and with an inimical hatred of Outsiders (including, of course, us).

Posted by Jeff at July 29, 2003 10:45 AM | Link Cosmos
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