mass shooting in Orlando Florida illustrates a problem the West in general and the U.S. in particular has in dealing with terrorist events. This problem transcends local politics and goes to the heart of the strategy used against Islamic extremists. How can the West fight against Islamic terrorist acts if so many political leaders will not even publicly identify the culprits as Islamic extremists. To deny the existence of an adversary's religion and ideology ignores their prime motivating force. This willful denial of religious differences clearly clashes with the world view of the 21st Century secular West, where Political Correctness has become a form of secular inquisition. Current Western secular ideology ignores the power of religion, reducing conflict causes to mere economic and political differences. Religious and cultural aspects of conflict are ignored as inconvenient truths. The roots of this ignorance go back to the end of the Cold War.
In the United States the June 12
In the 1990s scholar Samuel Huntington and military expert Ralph Peters both warned against ignoring the power of cultural differences. Lost amidst the celebrations of the Cold War's end, a number of historians pointed out that a Clash of Civilizations was on the horizon. Yet many modern Western secular humanists appear to genuinely believe that there are no such thing as cultural and religious differences. The 90s became the time of the New World Order, with idealistic scholar Frances Fukuyama calling that time the "End of History." The world was going to be American, a Mono-Polar New World Order with the U.S. calling the shots, and all the world holding hands in celebration of this time of peace. Before the 1990s were over events in Iraq, Bosnia, Chechnya, Rwanda, Afghanistan, and Sudan made it clear that this peaceful narrative was in trouble. Rather than a time of peace it was an outbreak of cultural, religious, and tribal disputes that led to disorder and fragmentation in many nations and offered a clear warning to those who paid attention to such things.
The West meanwhile was engrossed in an ever growing galaxy of entertainment options. While wars occurred in far off lands, the Internet and hundreds of TV channels were providing an ever growing list of distractions from reality, especially for the many in the West who could afford it. The educational system of the West also bears responsibility for fostering cultural ignorance. Samuel Huntington was a voice in the wilderness, but many scholars ignored his Clash of Civilizations thesis and hid behind a wall of political correctness. Instead of truly understanding how the history and culture of the West and Islam have been intertwined through time, 1990s era entry level university history classes were bundled together in a World Civilizations buffet, with few single culture a la carte options available, usually only in elective form for those majoring in history.
To many such scholars ALL cultures were seen as equal. To question the motivations or differences between different cultures was seen as a kind of cultural racism. Many highly regarded universities and educational institutions systematically purged themselves of conflicting viewpoints, walling themselves off into spaces "safe" from dissenting opinions. Unfortunately, dissent is often essential for progress. When differing opinions are suppressed, stagnation usually occurs. Yet when looking at conflicting intercultural issues from Sun Tzu's perspective one question does occur. How can you know yourself if you don't even know your history? Also, how can you know your enemy if you do not know you culture relates to or is different from theirs.
Of course these politically correct but ignorant views clearly conflicted with reality, especially after September 11, 2001. That event should have been a wakeup call that Islamic extremists and the West had serious differences. Yet even then Political Correctness transcended politics and was a bipartisan effort. The phrase "Islam is a religion of Peace" clearly showcases how deep this political correctness spread. Though it was a useful public relations tool in keeping the War on Terror from becoming a War on Islam, it ignored the reality that Islamic terrorists already see themselves at war against the secular West. Anyone with more than a passing knowledge of the Koran knows the fallacy of calling Islam the religion of peace. When a religion's very name means submission, and it sees the world divided into the two opposing houses of war and submission you may ask how peaceful such a religion truly is to its opponents. Certainly Islam has given the world much, and in its prime years was a much more tolerant religion than medieval Christianity. However, extremist followers of this religion have and will continue to wreak havoc on more secular cultures. It’s has been a problem within the Islamic world for over a thousand years and it is one of those things that is not discussed with infidels (non-Moslems).
Politics aside, when three of the West's most recent mass shootings are carried out Islamic extremists, more than simple coincidences are involved. Admitting that those who do such acts are Islamic extremists won't win the War on Terror. It will however go at least some way toward gaining an understanding of the adversary, both in the eyes of officials and the public. Only then can we even hope to have chance following Sun Tzu's maxim toward some form of victory. The biggest danger of political correctness occurs when leaders believe trendy catchphrases instead of the reality around them. Doing that, and not understanding one's own culture, is a surefire way to losing any conflict, as Sun Tzu foretold millennia ago. -- William S. Cobb