The West's Awakening

The people of Eastern Europe may have a better grasp on the value of freedom than their fellows in the West or even in America, where so many of us take it for granted. Here's a perceptive piece from the Czech Republic on some of the fast-disappearing illusions of many of us Westerners:

"The purple elephant in the middle of this crossfire is the contemporary notion — or, more accurately, the Western one — that the values of most Islamic societies have modernized along with the rest of the world.

The unraveling of the Iron Curtain revealed former enemies who, despite cultural differences, retained essentially the same values: a passion for freedom, mutual respect and at least a capacity to coexist with dissimilar viewpoints.

But the unexpected commonality between those nations could not have been brought into sharper focus than by the rise of global Islamic fundamentalism.

The West has naively greeted this scorpion with its Cold War handshake, believing that the virtues of peace and democracy appear self-evident; as if good intentions, by definition, will be good enough. But even the mainstream Islamic mindset has proven inscrutable to the West in a way that communism was mythologized to be but never truly was.

To many Islamic nations, freedom is not a tonic, but a toxin; it's regarded not just as something that permits a challenge to faith, but is a challenge to faith by itself."

And there are some fundamentalists in America who feel the same way.