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Saturday, March 29, 2003

An Hilarious, Hard-Hitting Article To Look At: Mark Steyn

Though the buggy prof has been trying to avoid the biggest sin of other commentators on the web, AKA bloggers --- links to other internet articles, little else; certainly little in the way of thoughtful observations of their own --- from time to time he will urge you to try some other sites, particularly if the writers on them are dealing with topics that have been taken up and discussed in our published views here.

1. The Incomparable Canadian Satirist and Journalist, Mark Steyn

You'll remember Steyn from an earlier article on this site that used one of his invariably humorous and sharp snap-like attacks on cant and pc-idiocies --- the two now synonymous for a couple of decades --- to deal with the ambitious theme of Samuel Huntington's Clash of Civilizations, which is being played out at the heart of Islam itself

  • On one side of the clash, regressive, witch-hunting, and markedly xenophobic Islamist fundamentalisms --- racist too, not to forget their woman-whipping mores and paranoid mania --- that have developed a widespread appeal to the psychologically dislocated and alienated masses of illiterate or poorly educated masses in the 57 Islamic countries, especially the 22 Arab ones that total almost 300 million people (half now under the age of 15). Turkey alone an exception. The Arab countries differing mainly in degrees of violence and brutality and, on the governmental level, pro- or anti-western foreign policies, little else. With hot-wire fervor and calculated demagogy, the fundamentalist imams and agitators themselves --- cocksure, vitriolic know-nothings --- pushing paranoid and conspiratorial fantasies as their core explanation why there are all the social ills, economic backwardness, political despotism, state-failures, and general misery in Islam and especially the Arab world. The chief culprit causing all these acute problems? Surpise! Surprise! According to the chiliastic demonology, nothing less than diabolical cabals of Jews and their control of Israel and the United States, along with their dupes and followers n Europe and the Arab world . . . all operating globally and locally alike, intent on attacking and destroying the Islam and their believers. The true faith itself to be defended by purifying violence and terrorism, a jihad struggle for the souls of the Islamic peoples against their devilish oppressors wherever they're found.

  • On the other side, some educated professionals and business leaders and a few more far-sighted political and administrative leaders, despotic as their governments might be right now --- plus some intellectuals, journalists, and university professors who haven't been either jailed by the despots or killed off or forced into exile by the fundamentalist fanatics --- who believe that the future of the Arab and other Islamic countries lies elsewhere. Above all, in far more openness to western ideas and knowledge. And in western-style political, economic, and educational reforms to reshape their national institutions, along with some form of parliamentary democracy (however truncated). Not to forget the liberation of women whom fundamentalists hope to ensnare in a kind of medieval suppression touted as Islamist purity and piety. All the while developing a national citizenship in each country that overcomes, at least far better than now, tribal-clan and sectarian divisions that are bolstered by cultures that are shot through with mistrust of others in different tribes and families or with different religions, cynicism, clientelism, head-spinning corruption, and winner-take-all political struggles.

    --- In line with this logic, remember that it was western-oriented, western-trained Arab administrators and professors who produced the impressive UN Arab Human Development Report 2002 last year that blamed the ills and backwardness of the Arab peoples on home-grown shortcomings, especially political authoritarianism, the oppression of women, and some combination of illiteracy, educational backwardness, and closure to western ideas and knowledge. With the startling statistic that in the last 1000 years, the 280 million Arab peoples have translated fewer books into Arabic than Spain does each year with its 40 million people! Illiteracy itself the worst in the world, higher even than in much poorer Tropical Africa. The Arab peoples themselves never having opened up to the modernizing forces --- alias, globalization (the big bugbear of the pc-left and the EU-nik media for years now, only to be rivaled by US neo-imperialistic neo/neo super-hyper-hegemony) --- that have been shaping the modern world of industrial democracies for several hundred years now.

    --- Not that modernizing institutions and political systems came easily to most of Europe either . . . an important observation to remember as a reference point. With numerous backlashes, violence, revolutions, counter-revolutions, and ideological extremism in most of the Continent until 1945, with the exception of Scandinavia, Holland, Switzerland, and Britain: a rule of law for all, shared citizenship, accountable democratic government, free markets with different degrees of regulation and state-management, secularism, meritocratic education, a scientific outlook, and relatively effective economic and financial institutions. Even then, it took the protectorate of the US over West Europe after 1945 to secure democracy and encourage West European economic integration, which otherwise would have foundered on the acute problems, built-into international relations and not least in West Europe itself, of security dilemmas and in particular fears of revived German militarism that were solved only by the presence of the US and NATO there for decades. Just as it was largely American containment and deterrence, along with the British and other West European allies --- many wobbly during the cold war at times --- that eventually accentuated the strains and over-extension of the Soviet Union that brought about efforts, belated and ineffectual, by Gorbachev to reform the derelict Soviet system and led to the destruction of the Soviet empire in the East. Today, for the first time in European history --- even in most of the Balkans --- democratic institutions are taking root and have already flourished in several East European countries where the skeptics, as they had earlier about Germany and Japan after 1945, claimed the historical pre-conditions didn't exist.

    --- War itself, remember, has been necessary to destroy the evils of slavery (the wars on the slave-trade and slavery carried out by the two great liberal powers, the British and the US), fascism, statist-militarism, Nazism, Stalinism, and various other kinds of kill-crazy Marxisms . . . just as it is necessary today, part of the larger assault against Islamist radicalism, violence-loving Islamo-fascist terrorism, and fascist states in the Middle East and a Stalinist rogue state in Asia (the clerical-fascist regime in Taliban, Afghanistan destroyed last year) that are energetically pursuing weapons of mass destruction as part of their anti-western stance and demagogic manipulations. The other weapons in the war on terror are homeland security, intelligence and police work carried on cooperatively with other governments, financial coordination to destroy the numerous Islamist networks, not least centered on Wahhabi mosques and charities in the West, that finance the various Islamo-fascist terrorisms --- Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, various Shia fanaticisms among them --- and, as we hope to see starting in Iraq, externally induced changes in many of the countries of the Arab world and Iran, a challenge that will take decades to complete; but essential to drying up the recruitment centers of these fundamentalist movements and terrorist groups linked to them that find fertile ground right now for their radical appeal among an increasingly large, unemployed youg men (including, as with fascist and communist movements in Europe before WWII, under-employed and alienated university students and graduates), who number now in the tens of millions and who, without changes, will be double that figure in another 20 years.

  • Well, Steyn --- who lives in a New Hampshire village while writing for several European, Canadian, and American publications --- is active on several fronts, not least his continued onslaught directed at the true-believers in the West . . . the politically correct academics and media types, dominant in Western Europe and Canada above all, but active too in this country, who he notes in his usual hilariously jolting satirical style --- have been having a field day with their ideologically charged nonsense about the war in Iraq. No need to say more. Read the rollicking article, then make sure to visit his site regularly. http://www.marksteyn.com/index.cfm

    To be Continued