The I-word at last

By

Hillel Halkin of the New York Sun congratulates President Bush for finally identifyting Islamofascism as our enemy. But he goes on to wish that the President would be a little bit less politically correct:

The president is of course right to insist now, too, that the enemy is not Islam itself. He is perfectly justified to have stated in his October 6 speech that a religion like Islam that "demands individual moral accountability, and encourages the encounter of the individual with God, is fully compatible with the rights and responsibilities of [democratic] self—government." The whole American endeavor in Iraq would make no sense if one didn't believe this.

And yet while an American president can go only so far in what he says, Mr. Bush might have spared himself some unnecessary mealymouthedness had he not hastened to add that, even though "whole societies" in the Middle East "remain stagnant while the world moves ahead," these "are not the failures of a culture or a religion" but merely those of "political and economic doctrines." To refrain from speaking the whole truth for reasons of political expediency is one thing; to utter obvious untruths is another.

Surely the president and his advisers must realize by now that the failure of Arab and Muslim societies to modernize and democratize is precisely the failure of a culture and a religion and cannot logically be explained otherwise.

Halkin goes on to make the point that one can't change a culture from outside, but one can influence the direction of change by creating political and military situations to which a culture must adapt.

A classic example, unmentioned by Halkin, is the evolution of Japanese culture as a result of defeat and military occupation by the United States. Japan today is vastly different from the country which went to war with the United States. Its culture has changed. But such change takes generations and requires enormous efforts from within and without the culture in question.

Rigid cultural determinism is always an error, partly becuase complex societies have differing, and often contradictory elements co—existing within their cultures. The ability to draw on recessive desirable cultural traditions is something which must be cultivated in the many Islamic cultures which have failed so miserably at modernity. The shining example to which they must look is, of course, Malaysia, an example which did not appear in Halkin's otherwise excellent article.

Thomas Lifson   10 18 05

Hillel Halkin of the New York Sun congratulates President Bush for finally identifyting Islamofascism as our enemy. But he goes on to wish that the President would be a little bit less politically correct:

The president is of course right to insist now, too, that the enemy is not Islam itself. He is perfectly justified to have stated in his October 6 speech that a religion like Islam that "demands individual moral accountability, and encourages the encounter of the individual with God, is fully compatible with the rights and responsibilities of [democratic] self—government." The whole American endeavor in Iraq would make no sense if one didn't believe this.

And yet while an American president can go only so far in what he says, Mr. Bush might have spared himself some unnecessary mealymouthedness had he not hastened to add that, even though "whole societies" in the Middle East "remain stagnant while the world moves ahead," these "are not the failures of a culture or a religion" but merely those of "political and economic doctrines." To refrain from speaking the whole truth for reasons of political expediency is one thing; to utter obvious untruths is another.

Surely the president and his advisers must realize by now that the failure of Arab and Muslim societies to modernize and democratize is precisely the failure of a culture and a religion and cannot logically be explained otherwise.

Halkin goes on to make the point that one can't change a culture from outside, but one can influence the direction of change by creating political and military situations to which a culture must adapt.

A classic example, unmentioned by Halkin, is the evolution of Japanese culture as a result of defeat and military occupation by the United States. Japan today is vastly different from the country which went to war with the United States. Its culture has changed. But such change takes generations and requires enormous efforts from within and without the culture in question.

Rigid cultural determinism is always an error, partly becuase complex societies have differing, and often contradictory elements co—existing within their cultures. The ability to draw on recessive desirable cultural traditions is something which must be cultivated in the many Islamic cultures which have failed so miserably at modernity. The shining example to which they must look is, of course, Malaysia, an example which did not appear in Halkin's otherwise excellent article.

Thomas Lifson   10 18 05