In short, it’s the old blame game, one that over the past century has taken multiple forms.
Once, a tired whine of Islamists was that European colonialists and American oilmen rigged global commerce to “rob” the
Recently, oil exporters of the
Another old excuse for Islamist anger was the claim the West had favored autocrats — the Shah, the House of Saud, the Kuwaiti royal family — in a cynical desire for cheap gas and to prop up strong anti-communist allies.
Some of that complaint was certainly accurate. But since September 11,
Islamists have and continue today to gripe about Western infidels encroaching on Muslim lands. Osama bin Laden attacked because of American troops stationed in
Yet, nothing much has changed since the
Then there is moaning that the West treats its Muslim immigrants unfairly, despite evidence to the contrary. After all, Muslims build mosques and madrassas all over Europe and the
Another Islamist grumble is that the West supports only
The one thing, however, that the
Both its low form of girly magazines and punk rock as well as its impressive literature, art, commerce and technology now saturate the world. And why not? American radical individualism appeals to the innate human desire for freedom and unbridled expression. Westernization subverts most hierarchs, especially in the reactionary world of Islamic fundamentalism, where the mullah, family patriarch or state autocrat can’t keep a lid on it. Instantaneous communications have also brought to an insecure Middle Eastern society firsthand views of how much wealthier, freer and more tolerant the outside world is when it is democratic and transparent.
But instead of providing a blueprint for reform, these revelations only incite envy and anger from millions who are advised that parity with the West is found instead by retreating further into 7th-century religious purity.
So never mind the trillions in petrodollars, billions in aid and concessions. Unless we change our very character, or the Middle East achieves success and confidence through Western-style democracy and economic reform, expect more tired scapegoating and violence from radical discontents, from Lebanon to London — and well beyond.
©2006 Tribune Media Services