Interlude -- why this series
I consider myself a tolerant person. How many other ex-Catholic athiests are not extremely anti-Catholic? I consider Catholicism wrong about a lot of things, but, except in the area of sex/gender/reproduction, I think it has done as much good as harm, and I am still glad and proud that I went to a Jesuit High School. And, because I insist on the 'right to be wrong' -- I need it myself often enough -- I even accept tax exemptions for religious salaries, income, expenses and real estate for specifically religious purposes -- though I would not extend it to businesses or real estate owned by churches but not used for narrowly-defined church-related purposes.
And I have always been skeptical of gloom-and-doom culture clash scenarios. I grew up in the 50s, during the height of the Cold War, when many people were sure there would be an atomic clash between Communism and the West. I saw that, in every case where there had been a Communist revolutio in a country, it was against the advice of the USSR who cautioned that it wasn't time. And then I realized that, since Lenin, there hadn't been a Soviet ruler who actually believed in Marxism no matter how much lip service they paid it.
During the Nixon phase of the Vietnam War, when so many people were expecting either a 'revolution' or an extreme repression, I kept my faith in Democracy and expected things to settle down without the clash.
But this time I AM scared. I do not see a settlement of THIS cultural clash. Yes, there are moderate Muslims, a lot of them in the blogosphere. (And anybody who reads blogs from the young Iraqis like Baghdad Girl, Coloured Bubbles, and A Star from Mosul will see there is plenty of hope in the next generation, if it gets that far.)
But this is the blogosphere, and much as I'd like to, I can't live there. In the outside world, I don't see any effective movement by the truly secular or Reformist Muslims that has even begun to have any political power. What I see are, for the most part, semi-secular regimes who need to pay deep obesiance to the religious elements to maintain power, being pushed on one side by the Islamicizers, and not being pushed at all by the secular/Reformist elements.
I want to believe I'm wrong, that the clash of world-views is resolvable, that there is an effective Reform Islam in the works -- 'moderate Muslims' are NOT the same thing. They share the same world view, only the interpret it differently -- or that I am misinterpreting Islam and its beliefs. That's why I've asked and will be asking a number of bloggers to 'come and argue with me,' both Muslims and skeptics (particularly the sort who understand 'critical thinking').
And that's why I am laying out, at lengths interminably long even for me, what problems I see.