Timely piece — what people forget in my opinion is that the only way to reform extremism is through peace and prosperity. It’s the material conditions which change the ideology not the other way around. It was peace and prosperity that pushed Christian extremism to the margins in Western Europe and the US. The global peace index has a study on religion and violence.
They’ve shown a very strong correlation between prosperity, peace and secularism. The most secular countries in the world are the wealthiest and have the most egalitarian systems. It’s war and poverty that are a big reason for extremism — western ideologues would rather brow beat the Muslim community than deal with actual systemic and structural causes of extremism or extremist religious views. When they do, they talk as if Islam is a person or a country.
There isn’t a religious person alive that doesn’t pick and choose, like a salad bar, what works for them and what doesn’t. In violent war torn areas extremism thrives because that’s the ideology that suits the situation. Just as the IRA, the LRA, the Rwandan Genocide, Srebrenica and the holocaust demanded Christian ideology because of the unique confluence of factors that necessitated that extremism, so too in the Middle East the circumstsnce of a war torn society will produce extremism. So what of wealthy Muslim terrorists? Well what of Erik Prince — head of Blackwater paramilitary and Christian terrorist by any reasonable account based on his crimes?
People who criticize Islam as if it’s Islam and Islam alone are engaging in a facile analysis that is in no way holistic. It’s lazy frankly — its lazy and it’s incredibly dangerous and deeply condescending. Thanks for the article. Just scribbled some of my thoughts.