Email of the Day

A reader writes:

You ask 'What is it about contemporary Islam that seems to make it clearly incompatible with Western freedom of speech?'

The answer is contemporary Islam now embodies the core principles of fundamentalism: absolute certainty and the subsequent stifling of any dissent.  Everything in the liberal tradition of the West is built on exactly the opposite: the virtue of questioning and ability to voice those questions. How can the West coexist with current Islamist views? it can't. In its watered down form, we see the growing conflicts with our own Christianists in the U.S. Couple their fundamentalism with the current martyr/death complex of Islam and we would have the same problem on our shores. The West has been there before, albeit 600 years ago. I'll pose a question back: 'How do you make up for 600 years overnight, or for that matter in a lifetime?'"

I don't know. And if we didn't rely on Muslim states for energy, and if they weren't on the brink of getting weapons of mass destruction, we might be able to walk away. But we cannot. And so we have to try and open up democratic space in the Middle East and hope we can achieve enough incremental change in time. I'm not an optimist on that front. But in the meantime, we don't have to apologize for freedom. And we should do everything in our power to defend it. If the State Department doesn't understand that, it's long past time someone told them.