Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Thinking about France

I can't help thinking that the riots in France (are they still going on?; they were woefully undercovered in the U.S. press) portend something far more ominous. Commentators were quick to point out that the rioters were second and third generation Muslims, and so were in now way connected to al-Qaeda. But this misconstrues the nature of Islamic fundamentalism, which is to say that it is not an opposing force to the West, but in fact a force which grows directly out of it. The plotters of 9/11 were fully assimilated and Westernized Arabs. This is just as true of the rioting Muslims in France only their aggression and inclination towards violence shows that despite what Thomas Friedman tells us, even several generations of exposure to modernization and Western capitalism doesn't quell the Islamic hatred of the West. If anything, it only seems to intensify it.

The West needs to start recognizing that for all its emphasis on tolerance it is in fact intolerant of Islam. Western liberalism insists on a divide between the private and public spheres. Islam, or at least a fundamentalist strain of it, repudiates such a partition. And in so far as Islam does this, there can be no place for it in the West.

This, I think, is exactly what Muslims are reacting to -- theirs is a rebellion against Western intolerance of their religion. I am not trying to justify it. I believe liberalism offers a far better alternative than Islam. But I am saying that if the Muslims who come here feel there is no room for their belief system, it is an entirely legitimate and understandable feeling.

This is new, this clash of anti-liberalist Islam and the liberal West. But what is not new is the feeling that the West's insistence on a private sphere is simply not adequate enough. What young Muslims feel is what alienated young Europeans have felt since the 1700's -- a sense that there must be a better way than liberalism, a desire to organize individuals' private lives to the same esteemed ethical standards that govern the polity. This yearning has always produced highly destructive and delusional ways of thinking, but it can't be prevented either. It is the natural and inevitable precipitate of Western liberalism.

And so we should expect to see more rioting, more attacks by Westernized Muslims on Europe and the United States. So yes, even it is for reasons our politicians refuse to recognize, we are still witnessing the dawn of World War III.



1 Comments:

Blogger ctkeith said...

Hey,

I'm Keith Crane,The guy who started Dumpjoe.com.

I was googling for posteritys sake and came upon the post from here which had my name in it in 05.

Just wanted to assure you I'm neither a Republican or a Nazi,LOL.

12:18 AM  

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