Life and death

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Written by Shelby Steele, Wall Street Journal, (Wall Street Journal, 22Aug06):

Islamic militancy grounded in hatred of Israel and America has become the Muslim world’s most animating idea. Why? I don’t believe it is because of the reasons usually cited – Israeli and American “outrages.” Every Israeli land-for-peace gesture has been met with a return volley of suicide bombers and rockets. Palestinians have balked every time their longed-for nationhood has come within grasp. They have seemed to prefer the aggrieved dignity of their resentments to the challenges of nationhood. And Hizballah launched the current war from territory Israel had relinquished six years earlier. If this war makes anything clear, it is that Israel can do nothing to appease the Muslim animus against her. And now much of the West is in a similar position, living in a state of ever-heightening security against the constant threat of violence from Islamic extremists.

Islamic extremists don’t hate the West because they are oppressed by it. They hate it precisely because the end of oppression and colonialism forced the Muslim world to compete with the West. Less oppression opened this world to the sense of defeat that turned into extremism. Islamic extremism is the saber-rattling of an inferiority complex.

The writer is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford.

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