Magazine article Insight on the News

Militant Islam's Long Memory of History. (the Last Word)

Magazine article Insight on the News

Militant Islam's Long Memory of History. (the Last Word)

Article excerpt

Silvio really stepped in it -- Silvio Berlusconi, the prime minister of Italy. Not long after the terror attacks on New York City and the Pentagon, he said of the West: "We must be aware of the superiority of our civilization, a system that has guaranteed well-being, respect for human rights and -- in contrast to Islamic countries -- respect for religious and political rights." The only thing Berlusconi might have said to draw more hostility from the politically correct was that smoking is great fun and cigarettes should be distributed as liberally as condoms in schools.

The prime minister -- variously described in news reports as one of Italy's wealthiest men, a former nightclub singer and a right-winger, none of which is intended to convey stature -- wobbled when return fire got hot, even asserting that the pressies had "put words in my mouth."

Typical of the righteous scoldings of the prime minister was an editorial in the Washington Post, toasted throughout the known world as the prescriptive voice of correct thought. Berlusconi "humiliated his nation ... with his deeply dangerous rantings about Islam," preached the Post. His remarks were made, the editorialist ranted, "in a climate in which reprisal attacks against Arabs and Muslims ... are disgustingly common."

That last assertion is mendacious -- or, as the boys in the back room would put it, a lie. That there have been so few such "reprisals" in this country is remarkable when measured against the anger after the slaughter of more than 5,000 innocent civilians.

It is appropriate, of course, for Western leaders to contend that the war launched by Osama bin Laden is not a war against Islam but against terror. That is accurate, so far as it goes. Islam, however, is not a faith that recognizes the Western distinction between the religious and the political. The religious subsumes the political in Islam, and theocracy is the prescribed form of governance.

Thus the liberal democracies that predominate in the West cannot be other than anathema in the feverish frontal lobes of Islam's zealots. It appears also that there is ambivalence on the part of many Muslims who condemn the bombing but are not so sure that the West didn't have it coming.

There is little individual liberty in nations where Islam is the official creed. Most are one-party states, which usually translates as repressive rather than consensual governance. All citizens are not equal before the law, especially females, though many feminists in the West don't seem to grasp this. Islamic lands are far from technologically or economically dynamic, nor is the prosperity that does exist widely shared. …

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