Ed Hudgins

Islam’s Dreary Cultural Darkness

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Islam's Dreary Cultural Darkness

By Edward Hudgins

September 14, 2012 - The storming of America's embassy in Egypt and the murder of America’s ambassador to Libya make it imperative that we understand why the Arab Spring was only the illusion of a warm breeze in the cold, dreary, pre-modern cultural darkness.

The fundamental problem is the values, priorities, assumptions, and expectations in the Arab-Muslim world. Yes, there are differences between and within the countries of the region. And no, not all Arabs and Muslims are blood-thirsty Islamists. But the common cultural elements help explain why those countries are impoverished, have repressive governments, and are breeding grounds for mobs in the streets and homicide bombers who do, in fact, thirst for blood.

Unenlightened

The developed world today is informed by the Enlightenment values of Western Europe that have been worked out over several centuries. Chief among those values of modernity is reason, which is understood as the valid path to knowledge and the guide for our lives as individuals. The result has been the scientific and technological advances that contribute to human well being today as well as the personal liberty afforded the individual in developed countries.

By contrast, Middle East Islamic culture today is still steeped in religious dogma, ignorance, appeals to revelation, and a rejection of critical thinking. Its institutions are based on a mix of outdated traditionalism and loyalty to tribes, groups, or religious sects. In those countries we don't see serious public discussions about the need for the sort of social transformation and rethinking of religion that occurred in Europe centuries ago. Tolerance is not tolerated and critics are shut up or killed. The howling, mindless mobs outside of American embassies are the true manifestation of that culture.

This pre-modern culture helps us understand not only the events in that part of the world but the errors in the thinking of many Americans about them.

It's not just blowback

Most leftists of the Obama ilk and some libertarians as well need to understand that the hatred and violence in the Islamic world against America is not simply "blowback" because of America's influence in the region and support for corrupt dictators. The war in Iraq might well have been stupid policy that did not serve America's best interests. But it deposed a corrupt dictator and empowered oppressed groups. The truth is, anti-Americanism in the region is really part of a wider struggle against modernity.

Are they fit for freedom?

These facts also show the neo-conservative folly of believing that democracy, that is, representative government, will produce peaceful, more pro-Western regimes. Would that it were the case! The valid role of representative government is to protect individual liberty. But in a culture of rigid traditionalism, tribalism, and religious dogma, the results of free elections will be what we see in the Egypt: the replacement of a more secular dictator by a more theocratic one.

We saw this same result in Gaza after Israel pulled out its military and settlements in 2005, removing the excuse used by Palestinians for their own poverty and repression. But rather than focusing on educating their children, building enterprises, and generally immersing themselves into the activities of peace and prosperity, they voted for Hamas authoritarians who made the destruction of Israel their goal and who killed any Palestinian who objected.

The murder of America's ambassador to Libya and some of the associated demonstrations and violence against America across the Middle East might have been spearheaded by al Qaeda. But they grew from the polluted pre-modern cultural soil.

Muslims insult America and secular values every single day, but Americans understand what freedom of speech is, so Arab embassies are secure in Washington. Too many Arabs do not know what free speech is, and they respond to insults with murder.

The struggle in the Middle East is cultural and requires a transformation of the sort that took centuries in Europe. Only if we understand the essence of the struggle will there be reason to hope that real cultural change will come to the Middle East any faster.

---------------

Hudgins is director of advocacy for The Atlas Society.

For further information:

*William Thomas, "Egypt’s Democracy Activists Get What They Wish For." May 30, 2012.

*Edward Hudgins, "Deep Savages." March 18, 2005.

*Edward Hudgins, "Are the People of the Middle East Fit for Freedom?" May 14, 2004.

*Edward Hudgins, "Israel vs. Palestinian Moral Smuggling." June 3, 2010.

*David Kelley, "Does Islam Need a Reformation?" Spring, 2011.

*David Kelley, "9/11 and the War Against Modernity." May 2002.

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What a depressing article from Hudgins. I looked in vain for his take on Libya, the outpouring of sorrow and shame from Libyans at the death of the US Ambassador, staff and Libyan security. I looked in vain for his acknowledgement of the Libyan polity's general present allliance with 'western' values, for the statements of condolence and rejection from the new Prime Minister, from others, from ordinary Libyans.

I looked for an acknowledgement that Muslim folks are not ALL THE SAME, and here it is: "And no, not all Arabs and Muslims are blood-thirsty Islamists."

But?

Um, "But the common cultural elements help explain why those countries are impoverished, have repressive governments, and are breeding grounds for mobs in the streets and homicide bombers who do, in fact, thirst for blood."

I then looked for an acknowledgement that autocratic (at least) and oppressive government was a 'common' cultural element of the countries of the Arab Spring. I looked for Hudgins to notice that the death of the US Ambassador was accomplished not by a 'mob' but by an active terrorist attack.

I then looked for Hudgins fair and rational balanced take on the 'Coptic Christian' production of the provocative film project, on the common cultural elements of hatred and vilification ... one that crosses all borders.

I then looked again for the bottom line summary of the whole sorry article: Muslims are bad because of a bad culture. Simple, straightforward, no side issues, no qualifications.

Who is to blame for the death of the Ambassador et al? Islam. There. Now we know. Thanks, Ed.

What a hopeless, myopic, prejudiced and unhelpful article.

Edited by william.scherk

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Thanks, Ed! One of the best reads I can recommend is Making Big Money in 1600: The Life and Times of Isma'il Ibn Taqiyya by Nellie Hanna. In Cairo, c. 1600, a Bosnian slave woman sued in court men who had an agreement with her master, but who cut her out of her share. No free woman in London or Paris of 1600 could have done that. Ismail ibn Taqqiya did not have an easy life. All we know about him is from court papers. But he had his choice of courts, according to the needs of the contract. His was primarily a coffee merchant. But coffee in 1600 was only newly legal after a court case because the religious mobs burned coffee houses, claiming that "black water" was an intoxicant. So, the court got some men, gave them coffee and looked for signs of drowsiness and stupidity. The rest is history. (We call it "Vienna Roast" but it was only outside the gates of Vienna that the Turkish tents were burned and the coffee later recovered.) The religious mobs in Cairo were only anti-Sufi, as the Sufis had been using coffee for about 500 years for their all night prayers. Anyway, Ismail ibn Taiqiyya was a model merchant who lived in wonderful times in a great city of trade -- one also with a vibrant Jewish community -- where women had rights.

What happened?

As you say, the Enlightenment. It happened in Europe and left the Arab Islamic lands cultural backwaters.

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I then looked for an acknowledgement that autocratic (at least) and oppressive government was a 'common' cultural element of the countries of the Arab Spring.

I saw the same argument this morning on CNN from Ed Husain.

Arab Spring nations don't yet grasp freedom of dissent

By Ed Husain, Special to CNN

updated 11:01 AM EDT, Fri September 14, 2012

These are people who were born and raised in dictatorships. They are accustomed to thinking that a government controls its citizens -- that a film or documentary cannot be produced without government approval. For decades, this has been the reality of their lives, and they strongly believe that the Western world and its citizens have a similarly controlling relationship between individuals and government.

I deny that. They know pluralisms of Sunni, Shiya, Sufi, and even Druse. They have had opposition parties, even in dictatorships. They have schools that teach Islam differently. They have the civil war between Hezbollah and Hamas, if nothing else. They can and do receive TV via satellite from around the world. (See Poor Economics by Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo: they will go without food to pay for satellite TV.)

The problem is that "they" are not a "they." The rational, enlightened, intelligent ones stay home while the mobs run in the streets.

That being true, the mobs nonetheless run in the streets. Compare Arab Spring to the most violent Anti-WTO anarchists and even as the anarchists destroy properties, they stop short of directly harming people, and take more hits themselves, from the police. Then compare the Arab Spring with the Occupiers and the Tea Party. Compare Arab Spring with the Velvet Revolution that brought down communismt. The Ceauscecus were shot. Egan Krenz went to prison. That was it. The people stood in the streets and rang their housekeys to protest 50 years of communist oppression. Damned reasonable and pretty fucking enlightened if you ask me.

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There was a time, way back, when reason flourished in the Islamic domains. The works of Aristotle were rescued from obscurity by Muslim and Jewish scholars and later (in the 12th and 13th centuries c.e). re-exported to Byzantium and Europe. A good part of mathematics was born in the Islamic domains, in particular Algebra (named after al Jabir) and modern theories of light and vision (al Hathan). Somewhere along the way, bright Islam went dark.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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I then looked for an acknowledgement that autocratic (at least) and oppressive government was a 'common' cultural element of the countries of the Arab Spring.

I saw the same argument this morning on CNN from Ed Husain.

Husain claims that Arab Spring nations don't yet grasp freedom of dissent. That's a lot of ground to cover. Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Bahrain, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Yemen, Libya. He says, "the populations and lawmakers have yet to grasp that democracy is not only about free elections but creating free societies."

This just does not solve any puzzles for me. If it is true, it gives me no further tools to comprehend. Even if I partly grant the conclusions of both gentlemen, stipulating that we can find a common denominator in Islam (in these countries), I want more common denominators. I want a bit of history, I want to compare the claim against findings. What 'freedom of dissent' was ever granted in Libya, Tunisia, Syria, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, under the strongmen? What today must happen in Tunis?

I underline that I find disappointing Ed Hudgins' Islamic culture as culprit. To what can I compare it? Is the murder in Benghazi and embassy stormings and burnings, and death in Tunis -- are these to be laid at the feet of this diffusely guiltly party Islam, and not persons (Islamic though they must be)?

This man is Islamic (and in Benghazi):

laHT5.jpg

Michael, my point was that if I must accept that there are common cultural elements that hobble MENA societies, I look to the heritage of violently repressive autocracy. Look at what was the norm. Look at present Syria, Yemen.

The struggles to reform the Middle East and North African from authoritarian rule continue. When I look at the news tomorrow, and next week, is an echo of Hudgins' The Islamists Done It going to inform my analysis?

The problem is that "they" are not a "they." The rational, enlightened, intelligent ones stay home while the mobs run in the streets.

That being true, the mobs nonetheless run in the streets.

Mob behaviour is human behaviour. The extra violence and destruction, burning, looting, these are not unknown in our West. Even peaceable Vancouver has its outbursts. Look at the urban geography of riot-torn America for the traces.

I will agree with Husain and Hudgins only on the commonplace that cultural elements determine events. That cultural and religious forces erupted in Benghazi and elsewhere. But I want a more fine-grained opinion or prescription, not a simplistic Dx put on Islam qua Islamic culture with no other suspects interrogated.

It is important to keep eyes on multiple balls.There is so much more than that one ball in play.

Compare Arab Spring to the most violent Anti-WTO anarchists and even as the anarchists destroy properties, they stop short of directly harming people, and take more hits themselves, from the police. Then compare the Arab Spring with the Occupiers and the Tea Party. Compare Arab Spring with the Velvet Revolution that brought down communismt. The Ceauscecus were shot. Egan Krenz went to prison. That was it. The people stood in the streets and rang their housekeys to protest 50 years of communist oppression. Damned reasonable and pretty fucking enlightened if you ask me.

This leaves out of the equation the dead by authority of the state. When police open fire, when soldiers are deployed to crush, when barrel bombs drop, when massacres as in Timisoara or Houla occur, when civilian districts come under siege, where 'cleansing,' detention, torture and summary execution continue. This under "secular" regimes!

I just mean fill in the details. Remember those who died before Ceaucescu fell. Remember who were the first fallen in Tunisia, in Egypt, in Homs, in Sana'a.

What is the essence of the struggle then?

Libya, ordinary Libyans stand with America, and console her. These are your allies (and Canada's allies). We must not turn away from their sorrow and their condolences in contempt or indifference.

The pictures are a sample of the popular response in Libya to the attack on the Consulate. This excerpt is from a story detailing the response. It makes a better coda to Hudgins' remarks than my thrashing about.

A2nx283CIAIgCKe.jpg

More protests against terrorism are scheduled across Libya, as well as consulate cleanup and fundraising and other activities. It seems likely that, as widespread as the use of social media is among concerned Libyans, their use of it to honor Ambassador Stevens and condemn violence in the name of God has yet to peak.

As for America, the image of the “Arab street” as one full of slavering madmen cheering the destruction of the World Trade Center is remarkably enduring. This appalling image results in a reductio ad absurdum that is difficult for even engaged and educated persons to shake. We forget that each block of every street in creation contains the whole of the world, good and evil, both and neither. Waves of violent, nominally Islam-based protests that wash across the Muslim world with some regularity, such as the current protests against an obscure film, help keep that image fresh.

However, this outreach by Libyans via the online tools that have become increasingly available to them and to which they have taken with the hunger of a previously cloistered people to communicate has the power to overwrite the tyranny of the easy image and replace it with a deeply textured, three-dimensional picture, one that more closely matches the complexity of the real street we all live on.

Islam’s Dreary Cultural Darkness

Unenlightened - It’s not just blowback - Are they fit for freedom?

The struggle in the Middle East is cultural and requires a transformation of the sort that took centuries in Europe. Only if we understand the essence of the struggle will there be reason to hope that real cultural change will come to the Middle East any faster.

For further information:

*William Thomas, "Egypt’s Democracy Activists Get What They Wish For." May 30, 2012.

*Edward Hudgins, "Deep Savages." March 18, 2005.

*Edward Hudgins, "Are the People of the Middle East Fit for Freedom?"

*Edward Hudgins, "Israel vs. Palestinian Moral Smuggling." June 3, 2010.

*David Kelley, "Does Islam Need a Reformation?" Spring, 2011.

*David Kelley, "9/11 and the War Against Modernity." May 2002.

Edited by william.scherk

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WSS,

I would have liked to see an acknowledgment from Ed of the differences between the Libyan government and the Egyptian government.

And of the differences between Islam and Islamic Imperialism.

But I don't consider the timing of the attacks in Cairo and Benghazi a coincidence. The Benghazi attack does not appear to have been a mob action, and I'm not sure how many people who rush to join a riot just happen to have Al Qa'eda flags handy.

Nor do I think there are any excuses or justifications for the belief that you are entitled to kill on behalf of your religion.

The piece of crap video, whose crappiness is discussed at some length on another thread, may be the product of stupid Coptic Christian bigots, led by a scamster whose role in it may have violated the terms of his probation. Or it may be the product of something else. We don't know yet. In any event, the 14-minute hunk of junk became a pretext, just as the Danish cartoons were employed as a pretext a few years ago, and something else will be found—or manufactured—in the future.

Robert Campbell

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McCainBenghaziCourtHouse.jpg

If you put JOHN MCCAIN BENGHAZI into a search engine you will see from mainstream media that in April 2011, he praised these so-called Al Qaeda terrorists. It may well be that they are in the pay of the US whose money they take to do what they would do at their own expense. Or it may be something else entirely. Islam is problematic on many grounds, as is Christianity. Of all the religions I think that Buddhism is least abhorrent.

Yes, I believe that next to McCain is the late Christopher Stevens. This is from Infowars, but it has been shopped around the alternative media.

http://www.infowars.com/john-mccain-founding-father-of-the-terrorist-emirate-of-benghazi/

I have no way to sort it out. I only note that it is a complete mess.

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Mr. Scherk (et al) - I also failed to mention that I've worked with free-market, enlightened Muslims, that a Muslim helps take care of my Jewish toddlers, that I like Lebanese restaurants, and a whole lot of other stuff.

I did mention the say that "The murder of America's ambassador to Libya and some of the associated demonstrations and violence against America across the Middle East might have been spearheaded by al Qaeda." That's what I suspected when I wrote most of thepiece Thursday night and it seems that is probably the case.

I'm glad to see Libyans in the streets protesting the murder of our ambassador. We need a lot more of that. Unfortunately, what has erupted across the Middle East since Thursday night is a new round of anti-American demonstrations. We also see this in London and other Western European cities by Muslims who would destroy the freedoms of hte societies to which most immigrated.

My general point still stands. Europe took centuries to work through the same religious and tribal irrationalities that dominated its culture. And ethnic divides still exist there.

Social and cultural change can be a wrenching thing. But only Enlightenment values will allow the Arab and Muslim regions to evolve to a point of real civilization, to recover some of the respect for learning and scholarship they had a thousand years ago, build on it, and become truly modern.

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Social and cultural change can be a wrenching thing. But only Enlightenment values will allow the Arab and Muslim regions to evolve to a point of real civilization, to recover some of the respect for learning and scholarship they had a thousand years ago, build on it, and become truly modern.

If one were to wait for enlightenment values to detoxify Islam while holding one's breath, one would turn blue and die.

Will Enlightenment Values cure Islam of its defects before Islamic terrorists get a hold of a nuclear weapon and use it on us? I certainly hope so.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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If you put JOHN MCCAIN BENGHAZI into a search engine you will see from mainstream media that in April 2011, he praised these so-called Al Qaeda terrorists.

This is murky. In early April 2011 McCain was reported praising Libyan rebels (in Benghazi):

"US senator John McCain, one of Congress's most vocal supporters of military intervention in Libya, said rebels fighting Muammar Gaddafi's troops were his heroes and praised their efforts to overthrow the dictator."

What do you say, Michael? You say he "praised these so-called Al-Qaeda terrorists."

The way I read this (I hope mistakenly) is that in your opinion, there is no difference between the anti-Gazzafi rebel forces praised by McCain and the people who murdered the US Ambassador, staff and guards. These are the same folks, all of them.

Is that a fair way to read your remarks? Because the use of these terrorists ('these so-called Al Qaeda terrorists') is not tied down anywhere. This allows a confound of two things, a defective generalization.

I have no way to sort it out. I only note that it is a complete mess.

Surely you have ways to sort "it" out, if "it" is on the one hand 'praise for Libya rebel forces who toppled Gazzafi' and the other "it" is those who planned and executed murder in 2012.

I hope you see my point about reasonable inferences and well-reasoned generalizations. Measurement omission has led to conflation here of things that do not share an actual identity.

But hey, you Objectivists all do this, right?

Edited by william.scherk

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Measurement omission has led to conflation ... of things that do not share an actual identity.

William,

Man did you nail an epistemological bad habit in our neck of the woods. You are absolutely right in the insinuation that logical rigor (based on the law of identity) is needed for conceptual validity and it is often missing in certain topics in O-Land.

On another issue, I am very pleased with your exchange with Ed. You challenged him in a way that I believe he should have been, and his answer, in my opinion, was very eloquent.

The other posters on this thread have, also, been challenging and intellectually stimulating.

This thread could have easily degraded into a snark-fest, But instead, we get high-level stuff to make the readers think and get in touch with the best within them to come to good conclusions. I say this, while floating above the substance, because I believe every person on this thread is one of the good guys.

When I see things like this, the headache of running a forum becomes well worth it.

Michael

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And it saves money by not having to take Advil...

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Unfortunately, what has erupted across the Middle East since Thursday night is a new round of anti-American demonstrations.

They are not really anti-American demonstrations. America is merely the biggest target to hit. America goes down, they all go down. They aim is to impose Sharia (in this case blasphemy law) on the entire non-muslim world. The aim is to get us to voluntarily adopt it. They are certainly having some success.

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WSS,

I recall that the Qadhafi line (well, at least one of the expired dictator's lines) was that those rebelling against him were all with Al Qa'eda.

Obviously that was not the case.

Besides the widespread availability of Al-Qa'eda flags, another question about the initial wave of rioters in Cairo is why many were allegedly chanting a demand that the United States release Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman from the Federal pen.

Robert Campbell

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It is worth noting that Al Quaeda, on all evidence, is much weaker than it was eleven years ago.

Flags, yes. Propaganda, yes. Riots and hooliganism yes. Suicide attackers, yes, although more and more often they succeed only in killing themselves and fellow Muslims.

But where is the American body count? Where is the rise of jihad on American soil, the sleeper cells of the Muslim Brotherhood scything the innocent?

In Libya, the count was four, plus the ten Libyan security guards who died trying to save them. This is not much of an advance, for a worldwide campaign of such supposedly ubiquitous sinister power. In the Middle East, as they have been for centuries, Americans and other foreigners will always be at peril, although not nearly at such peril as the Middle Easterners themselves.

Safe in North America, we can easily frighten ourselves that the past must necessarily be repeated, because nobody learns the correct lessons from history. But we should also comfort ourselves a little, because there are no correct lessons, there are only human beings living in history, and the past can never be either repeated or resuscitated.

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Islam's Dreary Cultural Darkness

By Edward Hudgins

September 14, 2012 - The storming of America's embassy in Egypt and the murder of America’s ambassador to Libya make it imperative that we understand why the Arab Spring was only the illusion of a warm breeze in the cold, dreary, pre-modern cultural darkness.

The fundamental problem is the values, priorities, assumptions, and expectations in the Arab-Muslim world. Yes, there are differences between and within the countries of the region. And no, not all Arabs and Muslims are blood-thirsty Islamists. But the common cultural elements help explain why those countries are impoverished, have repressive governments, and are breeding grounds for mobs in the streets and homicide bombers who do, in fact, thirst for blood.

Unenlightened

The developed world today is informed by the Enlightenment values of Western Europe that have been worked out over several centuries. Chief among those values of modernity is reason, which is understood as the valid path to knowledge and the guide for our lives as individuals. The result has been the scientific and technological advances that contribute to human well being today as well as the personal liberty afforded the individual in developed countries.

By contrast, Middle East Islamic culture today is still steeped in religious dogma, ignorance, appeals to revelation, and a rejection of critical thinking. Its institutions are based on a mix of outdated traditionalism and loyalty to tribes, groups, or religious sects. In those countries we don't see serious public discussions about the need for the sort of social transformation and rethinking of religion that occurred in Europe centuries ago. Tolerance is not tolerated and critics are shut up or killed. The howling, mindless mobs outside of American embassies are the true manifestation of that culture.

This pre-modern culture helps us understand not only the events in that part of the world but the errors in the thinking of many Americans about them.

It's not just blowback

Most leftists of the Obama ilk and some libertarians as well need to understand that the hatred and violence in the Islamic world against America is not simply "blowback" because of America's influence in the region and support for corrupt dictators. The war in Iraq might well have been stupid policy that did not serve America's best interests. But it deposed a corrupt dictator and empowered oppressed groups. The truth is, anti-Americanism in the region is really part of a wider struggle against modernity.

Are they fit for freedom?

These facts also show the neo-conservative folly of believing that democracy, that is, representative government, will produce peaceful, more pro-Western regimes. Would that it were the case! The valid role of representative government is to protect individual liberty. But in a culture of rigid traditionalism, tribalism, and religious dogma, the results of free elections will be what we see in the Egypt: the replacement of a more secular dictator by a more theocratic one.

We saw this same result in Gaza after Israel pulled out its military and settlements in 2005, removing the excuse used by Palestinians for their own poverty and repression. But rather than focusing on educating their children, building enterprises, and generally immersing themselves into the activities of peace and prosperity, they voted for Hamas authoritarians who made the destruction of Israel their goal and who killed any Palestinian who objected.

The murder of America's ambassador to Libya and some of the associated demonstrations and violence against America across the Middle East might have been spearheaded by al Qaeda. But they grew from the polluted pre-modern cultural soil.

Muslims insult America and secular values every single day, but Americans understand what freedom of speech is, so Arab embassies are secure in Washington. Too many Arabs do not know what free speech is, and they respond to insults with murder.

The struggle in the Middle East is cultural and requires a transformation of the sort that took centuries in Europe. Only if we understand the essence of the struggle will there be reason to hope that real cultural change will come to the Middle East any faster.

---------------

Hudgins is director of advocacy for The Atlas Society.

For further information:

*William Thomas, "Egypt’s Democracy Activists Get What They Wish For." May 30, 2012.

*Edward Hudgins, "Deep Savages." March 18, 2005.

*Edward Hudgins, "Are the People of the Middle East Fit for Freedom?" May 14, 2004.

*Edward Hudgins, "Israel vs. Palestinian Moral Smuggling." June 3, 2010.

*David Kelley, "Does Islam Need a Reformation?" Spring, 2011.

*David Kelley, "9/11 and the War Against Modernity." May 2002.

As the American Leviathan lurches around the world it provides a nice, juicy target for enemies of the United States. 9/11 was the single most brilliant attack of political terrorism of all time. Consider the consequences. The incompetence of the State Department in this latest example of most bang for the buck deserves its own special notation. Thus the government of the United States is the greatest friend of Muslim instigated terrorism in the world. (It doesn't matter how many die and go to Paradise. The population is a billion. And the purchase of Saudi oil finances most of it. Fill 'er up!) The greatest friend of them and the greatest enemy of us individual Americans. The U.S. has spent decades manufacturing its enemies and its own victimhood.

--Brant

won't get fooled again

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The incompetent response to 9/11 is now exceeded by the incompetent response to present economic difficulties. First: make the problem. Second: make the problem much worse.

--Brant

but aren't we ruled by courageous and competent politicians?--Ho, no, of course not!--except we are ruled

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I am cynical about the middle east embracing reason or a value system that ackowledges indivdiual liberty sans islam. The only meager hope I see is for the youth of these islamic nations to be exposed to pop culture (ironically the same western/pop culture wich has contributed to the disintegration of American self reliance). Libya and Egypt are twins, regardless of a handful of people who carry signs saying different. One only needs to look at their histories respectively to get an accurate portrayel of how, why, and where they are going. These nations were relatively safe and civil when the old English empire controlled them. I don't see how a major conflict can be avoided in the mideast.-the large majority of these muslims simply cannot divorce themesleves from islam in-toto. At the end of the day they will choose Allah over reason.

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