Saturday, January 31, 2015

Islam as the Lightening Rod for Rage Against The Machine

"A religion is defined not just by its holy texts but also by how believers interpret those texts — that is, by its practices. The ways in which believers act out their faith define that faith." "The slaughter in Peshawar, like the mass beheadings by the Islamic State, tells us something about the character of contemporary Islam and of Islamism."

148 people, mostly children, killed by the Taliban in Peshawar school massacre at the end of 2014
 "It tells us even more about the state of contemporary politics, and especially of radical politics."  "The character of anti-Western sentiment has changed strikingly in recent decades." "Anti-imperialists of the past saw themselves as part of a wider political project that sought to modernize the non-Western world, politically and economically. Today, however, that wider political project is itself seen as the problem."

"There is considerable disenchantment with many aspects of modernity, from individualism to globalization, from the breakdown of traditional cultures to the fragmentation of societies, from the blurring of moral boundaries to the seeming soullessness of the contemporary world. In the past, racists often viewed modernity as the property of the West and regarded the non-Western world as incapable of modernizing. Today, it is radicals who often regard modernity as a Western product, and reject both it and the West as tainted goods."

"The consequence has been the transformation of anti-Western sentiment from a political challenge to imperialist policy to an inchoate rage against modernity. Many strands of contemporary thought, including those embraced by 'deep greens' and the far left, express aspects of such discontent. But it is radical Islam that has become the lightning rod for this fury."

From NYT Sunday Review 'Radical Islam, Nihilist Rage' by Kenan Malik

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