Culture Matters: International (Part 2 of 2)
July 23, 2016
In the 1990s, Samuel Huntington first wrote an essay, then a book, called The Clash of Civilizations. This influential historian threw down a gauntlet that most liberal and idealistic scholars did not want to pick up. But this work was so important that in history conferences across the country, the book was reviewed and critiqued. He said every border between Islamic countries and non-Islamic neighbors was bloody. This was obvious between the Israelis and Arabs, but we had not realized that it was also true between Muslims and Hindus, Thais, Buddhists, and within Muslim countries themselves. Huntington was right.
Iran, a rapidly westernizing country, was the first to fall to Islamist fanatics in the 1979 Islamic Revolution of Iran. The educated elites fled, taking up new homes in Europe and the United States, where they enjoy much better lives in the west. This class, being indifferent to Islam, some of them also Jews or Baha'is, have integrated well.
Pakistan, founded as a secular but Muslim-majority state, was the next to be transformed into a mother-lode of Islamist violence. Its flood of emigrants to the UK, Canada, and the US, contain both elite secularists and a jihadi fifth-column. Pakistan itself has become a menace to its region, especially creating mayhem in India and Afghanistan. Our problem in dealing with Pakistan is that we needed their government during the cold war, but they no longer are a reliable ally.
In Turkey, established after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, its first president Kamal Ataturk, a respected army general and modernist, tried to free Turks from Islam. He was relentlessly secular. He changed the Arabic alphabet to the Roman alphabet; outlawed the veil and replaced the brimless fez with a western brimmed hat, making Muslim prayer difficult. He made the army the protector of the secular society. This worked for Turkey until their present leader, Erdogan, began a stealth campaign to re-Islamize Turkey. Once more, a Muslim-majority country has bloody borders and increasing loss of internal freedom.
Egypt, which was modernizing and secularizing in the past, had a close call when the ignorant electorate voted for the Muslim Brotherhood to lead them. After one year of this nightmare, a revolt unseated them. Their current leader is a modern general, but he has not been able to de-fang Islamist judicial authorities.
An Egyptian court sentenced to prison a former TV host, a researcher, for daring to suggest that certain passages of Muslim holy texts promote extremism. He said these texts need review and revision. For this, he was found guilty of “defaming religious symbols, imams and senior scholars.” This sort of thing happens every day in Saudi Arabia, but is shocking in Egypt. Elsewhere in the Muslim world, including Muslim communities in the West, “defaming Islam” or “insulting Mohammad” can get one murdered.
A new law has been passed in Britain, which until now, with misguided tolerance, had been reluctant to oppose the values of their Muslim immigrants. Traditional Muslim practices of wife battery, child abuse, and coercive bullying, practices illegal in the West, will no longer be justified as Muslim “tradition” and “religion.” If the British are serious, prosecution will greatly improve life for Muslim wives and children.
Norway mandates anti-rape training for immigrants from “more conservative societies.” “To force someone into sex is not permitted, even when you are married to that person.” Disproportionate rape numbers by immigrants necessitated these changes in law. Taking daughters out of school to marry them off abroad, taking them to Africa on summer break for genital mutilation, murdering them for dating or refusing forced marriage, is wrong and must be punished. Murdering an author for “insulting Islam,” murdering an “apostate” for leaving Islam, will get you prison or deportation.
Sweden's misguided enthusiasm for multicultural tolerance is in meltdown as public schools are rife with violence. Rape numbers, no longer hushed up, are unprecedented.
Huntington did not live long enough to see that this clash of civilizations would come for us at home. All cultures are not equal. Some are horrible. And differences lead to violence.
Dr. Laina Farhat-Holzman is a historian, lecturer, and author of God's Law or Man's Law. You may contact her at Lfarhat102@aol.com or www.globalthink.net.