Behind the Camel Curtain: What went wrong
Little Abdul keeps his eyes closed lest the moisture-seeking flies continue to exchange their eye-lid-crusting feces for his tears. Feverish, he is also suffering from mosquito-borne malaria. His loving parents fear they will be losing little Abdul soon, just as they have lost so many of their children to disease.
Fortunately, sixteen-year-old Mohammad has somehow survived the squalor of the Arab Middle East. In fact, he has been invited to join the Islamic jihad. Soon Mohammad will strap on a belt of high explosives. On behalf of his family, he will extract revenge against the Christians and Jews who have caused his brothers and sisters to die amidst a lack of sanitation and impure water.
Wait. What went wrong? Whatever happened to the “golden age” of Islam when Islam supposedly led the world in: architecture, art, design, literature, geography, navigation, medicine, math and science? Well, that was between 750 A.D. and the 12th Century.
So, what went wrong since then? How come the Western Europeans and the Americans are able to have potable water and working sanitation systems? How come they have eclipsed the so-called “golden age” of Islam in terms of architecture, geography, navigation devices, medicine, math, chemistry and physics? How come the world’s 12 million Jews have won an astonishing 121 Nobel Prizes in Science and the world’s 1.4 billion Muslims have won only three?
Even prior to the September 11, 2001, attacks on American soil, Oxford scholar, Bernard Lewis, was asking some of these same questions in his What Went Wrong?: The Clash Between Islam and Modernity in the Middle East.
The short answer is the fact that Islam is more than a religion. It is a political system that governs virtually every aspect of the day-to-day lives of its subjects. Since the 12th Century, Islam has discouraged scientific inquiry. Basically, only those things mentioned and praised in the Koran, are worthy of interest. Moreover, those who pursue any form of modernity are often severely punished.
As the Communications Revolution penetrates the Camel Curtain, those living in squalor are increasingly aware of how their wretched living conditions compare to the vastly superior living conditions of the Infidels in the West. They must blame someone. Their religion points their anger toward westerners.
We have seen Islamists who have grown up in favored circumstances in Great Britain, France and even the USA turn to violence against the societies that have afforded them the kind of comfort that is only dreamed of in the lands behind the Camel Curtain. Why their rage? Because they know their kinsmen have missed the boat called: “modernity,” and the boat isn’t coming back to get them. Ergo: they think terrorism is their only recourse.
But wait. We can show them the example of how Western Europe descended into the Dark Ages due to the anti-science oppression of organized religion. We can show them how we finally figured out how to separate church and state while retaining the best elements of both. We called it: the Renaissance
Until the Islamists figure out the need for a western-style renaissance, we have no recourse but to figure out how to defend ourselves against the certainty of a soon-to-be nuclear Iran. Arguably, that is more important than who gets to host the 2016 Olympics.
Meanwhile, the Islamists would be ill-advised to continue to claim that they invented Algebra. In the ninth grade, I blamed Miss Tarpley. But if the Muslims really did invent Algebra, not even ACORN could deliver enough of the underage kids’ vote to elect anymore Arab-Muslims or African-Muslims to high office than we already have in this country.
For the record: Algebra was invented 4000 years ago in Babylon -- now modern-day Iraq. No wonder we invaded Iraq and toppled Saddam Hussein.
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton is a Distinguished Graduate of the U.S. Naval War College and Harvard’s JFK School of Government. Dr. Hamilton is a former assistant professor of political science and history at Nebraska Wesleyan University.
©2009. William Hamilton.