Starting From Zero, Middle Eastern Edition
Charles Johnson links to this Smithsonian profile of Sayyid Qutb, Osama bin Laden's chief mentor. You may remember Qutb from this January post, documenting his reaction to America's decadent show business strumpets. But the Smithsonian piece delves into the mindset that would cause such a reaction:
The core problem with the United States, for Qutb, was not something Americans did, but simply what America was—“the New World...is spellbinding.” It was more than a land of pleasures without limit. In America, unlike in Egypt, dreams could come true. Qutb understood the danger this posed: America’s dazzle had the power to blind people to the real zenith of civilization, which for Qutb began with Muhammad in the seventh century and reached its apex in the Middle Ages, carried triumphantly by Muslim armies.As Mackubin Thomas Owens wrote a year after 9/11, that tragic day "revealed an emerging geopolitical reality: that the world's most important fault line is not between the rich and the poor, but between those who accept modernity and those who reject it."
Islamofascism is by far anti-modernism's most violent manifestation, but it's far from the only worldview that rejects the notion of modernity, of course: These fellows have much in common with Qutb's mindset--as would people as diverse as this gentleman and this gentlelady.
Or as David Brooks wrote in 2005:
In other words, the conflict between the jihadists and the West is a conflict within the modern, globalized world. The extremists are the sort of utopian rebels modern societies have long produced.Read the rest of the Smithsonian piece for more insights into how such a worldview develops.
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