(Note in keeping with the modern sensitivity of those in education who think they should be sheltered from the real world, I am prefixing challenging articles on this blog, aka intended to make you think with the suffix HHTW: Head Hurt Trigger Warning. And this piece has one. 🙂 HHTW
Modernity is no longer purely Western. Never was. China (which was economically on par with Western Europe in 1800) and the Muslim world’s scholarship all added to the growth of Western Science and Civilization that produced the Industrial Revolution, that has spread round the world and has planet threatening aspects, as well as lifting billions out of grinding poverty. (Quick opening counter to accusations of post-colonialism: been down that road and yep economic historian was my training: bring it on.🙂 )
Core to this modernity is equality for women (who in most societies still do early childhood education), a strong science based education system, rational government and the separation of Church and State. The problem with Islam is that the 1.3 billion people have not really embraced this modernity, any of these criteria. As a result their economies are largely basket cases or oil rich rentier states. As a result they are failed states, failed theocracies, failed patriarchies breed extremism and indeed the Saudi Wahabhists have poisoned moderate Islam in so many countries of the world, further delaying the onset of modernity and falls in things like infant mortality.
And tragically, one of the exceptions, Turkey is sliding back into fundamentalist anti-modernity. And even more threatening, the US has its own tribe at war with modernity who have now found a “prophet” in Trump for its racism, its misogyny and for its war on Enlightenment values and science. Heck the foundations of a knowledge based economy are under threat from our own Wahabhis, not to mention the planet via Trump climate change denial.
So we are at a series of civilization critical turning points including: does Islam stage a reformation and does America go backwards in time to the 17th century Wars of Religion that Europe learned from and indeed exported its zealots to the good old US where they have been festering. I bet that doesn’t make you feel any better, hence the HHTW. 🙂 But it’s context for what we face…..
And of course one of the reasons the extremist Religious Right in the US hate the Muslim Extremists is that they mirror them on the following criteria: 1) Patriarchal Misogyny aka oppression of women 2) Belief that violence/guns/bombs is the solution to most problems 3) Homophobia 4) Anti Science/Anti Modernity 5) Deeply selective use of their Holy Book to justify murder, only differing in that the Religious Right wants to take us back to the 17th century Wars of Religion and the Wahabhis a 1000 years back. So they are really stealing the hatred brand…dastardly!