Clash Of Civilizations

Written by Jeremy Horelick
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Ever since 9/11, the concept of a clash of civilizations has been bandied about in the media. Unfortunately, many people incapable of studying the evidence and drawing their own conclusions simply assume that this must be the case. We may in fact be currently witnessing a clash of civilizations. Or we may just have an instance of radicalism at work in disastrous ways. But these two things are very different.

A clash of civilizations implies two competing ideologies and the eventual dominance of one over the other. The Cold War is a fine example of such a showdown. Throughout the '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, and '80s, the free Western way of life and the repressive Soviet-style Communism battled for center stage in the global theater. As the fall of the Berlin Wall and the spread of democracy indicate, the outcome was decisive.

Are We Seeing Another Clash of Civilizations?

Many people would argue that our free society is now at war with the Islamic way of life. Proponents of this theory point to repressive regimes across the Muslim world that employ force, torture, and codes of silence to achieve their ends. But there are those who would rebut that many Western cultures use these very same tactics to suppress unpopular movements, change regimes, and exert economic control.

The debate is too thorny to resolve in a few short paragraphs, but there are countless volumes at your bookstore and library dedicated exclusively to this topic. Writers such as Thomas Friedman, Gore Vidal, and Noam Chomsky, just to name a few, have all recently published books that tackle this subject. Visit your local Barnes & Noble or Borders and you'll surely notice that the Islam section has grown exponentially in the past few years alone.


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