Monday, July 10, 2006

Cultural Arrogance Blinds Left to Jihadists' Mentality

Very persuasive letter to the editor in July 10, 2006 Wall Street Journal. Cultural Arrogance Blinds Left to Jihadists' Mentality [subscription required]

"James Dickinson (Letters to the Editor, July 7), in replying to your June 30 editorial "Fit and Unfit to Print," castigates you for buying into "a simple-minded, attention-getting label" like the war on terror. He says "common sense" dictates that "we should be striking at the basic roots of the jihadists' fanaticism" with "sophisticated economic, cultural and educational aid programs aimed at raising living standards and multilateral understanding." In so saying, he betrays the cultural arrogance of the left, assuming that jihadists simply don't understand or appreciate what good and helpful and friendly people Westerners are.

The basic roots of the jihadists' fanaticism are in the fundamentalist Koranic values they want to ensure their children follow. Economic, cultural and educational aid programs, no matter how "sophisticated," are an attempt to remake the targeted societies in the image of the West: promoting freedom of conscience, of expression, of political activity, of intellectual inquiry. "Raising living standards" means replacing religious values with materialist, secular ones. Imagine how you would react if Islamic fundamentalists took charge of indoctrinating America's children in Koranic values, and you can understand how well-intentioned Western aid programs aimed at "multilateral understanding" are a worse provocation to our enemies than any bombs or bullets.

The result, as we can see in Iraq, is not less jihadist fanaticism, but a schism between those who want Western-style freedoms and material goods, and those who want to eject all Western influence from their society -- and the latter group has declared all-out war on the West to achieve its objectives. The members of this group must be defeated, everywhere and anywhere they pop up."

Stuart Creque
Moraga, Calif.


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