Friday, June 21, 2002

Good bit from Kristof today:

The West is full of irresponsible vituperations about Islam being no more than a religion of violence and hatred. The vitriol amounts to an unrecognizable caricature to anyone who has lived in the Islamic world, enjoyed its hospitality and admired the dignity it confers on its humblest believers. Yet the bottom line is that nobody so distorts, denigrates and defames Islam as radical Muslims themselves, particularly the mullahs who try to have people executed for saying "peace be with you."

The latter part is no surprise to anybody who has been paying attention, but I somewhat disagree with the analysis of the relative danger of both of these misconceptions. The problems with the latter eventually lead (as Kristof's article about Pakistan and Friedman's article about Iran) to popular disgust with the hardline mullahs that will likely end in the same secularization and tolerance that Christianity went through throughout most of the world centuries ago. Unfortunately, the parts that don't fit in that "most" seem bound-and-determined to bring Huntington's Clash of Civilizations to live, and while Islamic repression is disturbing, a religious war (or even a war between Islam and those who think of it as nothing but the savage caricature that the right in the United States is determined to push) is infinitely more so.

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