As the violence spreads across continents, what we are witnessing is a meltdown of the Islamic universe. Populations in Africa are as much in the cross-hairs as those of India, Europe, the U.S. and elsewhere. The victims may be diverse but the culprits are of one affiliation. To say that the West’s bloody missteps abroad, the slaughter of Muslims in Iraq, and decades of support for dictators in Islamic countries constitute the original sin is not entirely false — the West certainly has a lot to answer for. But blaming the West conclusively means believing in an alternate and very unlikely scenario: that Islam was going to create stable democratic states on its own…
…So let’s be clear. The West didn’t invent despots in the region. The tradition predates Western influence, one strongman dynasty has replaced another for centuries — and always with a great deal of popular momentum backing its strong Islamic leaders. Now, the winds of globalization blow those despotic spores everywhere.
President Bush’s ill-conceived, badly planned, badly executed nation-building adventure in Iraq suffered above all from the besetting American sin of criminal ignorance abroad — ignorance of cultural conditions and regional forces opposing liberal democracy on the ground.
Centuries of despotism can evolve toward the light but not easily, not suddenly and not without a wholesale change in ideas. Bush’s airy Rousseau-esque notions — that everywhere man is born free and will be free if you just inspire the urge — ignores the simple fact that politics is rooted in culture and history.
The Western liberal belief that, given a chance, all Muslim migrants will embrace Western political ideals makes the same Panglossian error. Why do we expect host countries to succeed in convincing them that women have a right to equal treatment, especially when liberal thinking in Europe and the U.S. urges immigrants to hold fast to their own cultures?…
…Molenbeek and other Islamized neighborhoods in Europe have become fortresses of separatism. And the influence of those neighborhoods is not easily contained. There’s sufficient evidence to believe that the lackadaisical approach to undigested multiculturalism backfires repeatedly. It could all end catastrophically at any moment.
This is not alarmist speech for the sake of inciting hostility between communities. This is hard-headed survival thinking at the eleventh hour…
…Two fundamental conditions need to be met for any chance of peace or security to remain in our globalized century of mass migrations. European and American societies have to regain confidence in their deepest self (not merely in their free market or political principles) and immigrants to the West need to recognize the flaws of their own cultures. The first requires that Western societies reaffirm their identity-forming traditions and insist that newcomers incorporate them as a core consciousness. The second requires newcomers to have the cultural humility to do so.
The West’s deepest self — its sense of rooted history and site-specific tradition, of intellectual achievement from Plato to Orwell — must re-emerge vigorously if outsiders are to have anything to which to assimilate.
Read Melik Kaylan’s piece in full here.