Is it just me, or are we making some serious over-generalizations here?
Now, I’m not going to deny that there are many who interpret Islam as being supportive of a holy war against non-Muslims; we all know that’s true. However, to say that all of Islam is made up of wild-eyed intolerant fundamentalists is going a little bit too far.
In many respects, Islam is a lot like Christianity. When you hear about Islam in the news, who do you hear about? The wackos, because that’s what’s newsworthy – who cares about anyone who’s not nuts? When you hear about Christianity in the news, who do you hear about? Hypocritical religious leaders (child molesting priests, embezzling ministers, hooker-chasing televangelists) and truly far out folks (pro-lifers who believe they’re in a holy war and need to kill those who disagree with them).
The bigger different, IMHO, is the governments that are dominant in the West vs. in the Muslim world. For us, we bitch and moan about the system but generally have reasonably just governments. They’re not perfect, by any stretch, but they’re not tyrannical. In the Muslim world, you have monarchies and tyrannies, but precious few democracies. As a result, the masses – who live in poverty, have no voice in government, and get the sharp end of the stick from their own political leaders, who live rather well – are left with virtually no outlets for showing their displeasure. Furthermore, the regimes in these countries actively support an anti-Western agenda precisely because it allows the masses to vent their political dissent in a way that doesn’t threaten the stability of the regime. Remember how no one in the Arab world would believe Arabs were responsible for 9/11 – all the buzz was that it was an American conspiracy to attack Muslims? That kind of incredible suspicion is actively encouraged by many of our “allies” in the Muslim world.
While radical Islam is responsible for the insanity we see happening today, Islam is not, by its fundamental nature, a radical and “evil” religion. While Christians were out burning books and heretics who believed in science, Islam was preserving those same tomes and actively supporting science. In terms of politics, the position of religious leaders in some Islamic countries today is not too different from the role religious leaders played in the West until the late 18th century (the American and French Revolutions finally made the separation between Church and State work!) Islam hasn’t had a corresponding revolution, so it’ll be interesting to watch that play out…
One more problem the Islamic world has had: really, really bad press relations. Maybe it’s the fault of the networks, but post-9/11 I haven’t seen a single good Muslim commentator. They are always hedging and posing “them and us” scenarios, which is precisely the wrong way to represent your community at a time of national unity.
Our problem in the Islamic world today is, IMHO, as much an issue with their political institutions as it is with the mullahs. Unless benevolent dictatorship makes a rapid appearance on the scene or an acceptable representative government evolved, the lack of any sort of useful government in these countries is going to be the cause of war in the Muslim world (either civil war or war with the West). It’ll be interesting to see if Iraq (post-US invasion) can be steered in the direction of becoming a real democratic government.
Just my $.02. You are now being returned to your regular programming…