|SYNOPSIS: SYNOPSIS: There are ways we can use our own experience to probe the mentality of our attackers.|
If we want to effectively counter Islamic terrorism, we should have as clear an understanding of its origins and appeal as possible.
Probably one of the first realizations we should come to is how Islamic fundamentalism may be to the 21st century what Marxism was to the 20th. A large portion of its popularity seems to derive simply from its ability to offer a ready-made, off-the-shelf alternative to the dominant Western order.
Perhaps the most significant difference between the two is just that where Marxism attacked the economic basis of neo-Western supremacy, Islamic fundamentalism challenges the West’s grip on the imagic realm and the popular imagination.
Why does the Islamic world feel such a strong need to resist us?
This essay will omit many specific, pragmatic areas of contention--for example, between Palestinians and Israelis, or between the Arab world in general and the United States--not because they are unimportant, but because good descriptions and useful analyses of them are already available elsewhere. What's been missing is a clear assessment of what about contemporary life has set Islamic fundamentalists off, to the point where, in the words of more than one observer, they seem to be attacking the idea of modernity itself.
It is this need that we can address by looking at key aspects of modern living that we are already familiar with.
Before we can truly understand the effects we have on other peoples around the world, however, we need to have a better sense of what we do to ourselves, right here at home.