Re: MD Islam and MOQ

Date: Thu Sep 19 2002 - 19:29:44 BST


Even if the Islamic intellectual patterns were set back due to being on the
end of military conflicts, it is still true that many Arab nations have
failed to produce the number of great scientists, writers, and philosophers
proportional to their respective populations. The only mainstream Arab
writer I can name is Naguib Mahfouz, an Egyptian intellectual who is quite
possibly my favorite. There is Edward Said, a Palestinian literature
professor living in America, who has crafted some of the most brilliant
essays I've ever read. Accomplishments in the fields of science are even
more scarce, which is quite disappointing considering how much the Arab world
brought to science and scientific invention during its flowering period.

Compare Pakistan to India, two countries with the same basic resources, with
the exception that India as a democracy has a burgeoning number of computer
programmers and scientists working for American companies based in India,
while Pakistan is still mired in a more or less theocratic government, Gen.
Musharraf having recently drawn up a new amendment that permits his exclusive
power over the appointment of government officials. As much as I disagree
and quite frankly dislike Thomas Friedman's columns, I can't help but admit
he has some valid points- such as the view that democratic countries draw
their resources from the minds of their citizens, while non-democratic
countries are content to live well off of the natural resources beneath the
earth. In 50 or 60 years when all of the oil is gone from Saudi Arabia,
perhaps they will have a better chance at reform. As is stands, America
supports the rule of the Fahd royal family simply because the family is
willing to make deals with the U.S. concerning oil. But, with the support of
America also comes the entitlement of the ruler to basically do whatever he
wants within the borders of his own country. A continuing pattern we
commonly see is that of America using democracy as a means of punishment: we
go to war with Iraq to give them a democratic country. Why can't the U.S.
help Saudi Arabia by rewarding it with democracy and supporting some of the
more liberal minded-thinkers for election into positions of power?

On the subject of terrorist organizations, Kevin was right to point out that
they were a recent development. America has started off on the right foot by
installing American radio stations in five of the major Arab nations (which
basically play Bette Midler and the Star Spangled Banner and tell everyone
how open and friendly America is), but that is not enough to convince people
who have seen unblemished support for and endless arms supply to Israel as
well as sanctions and thrice-a-week bombings of Iraq, that America has the
best intentions for the people of Arab nations. Patterns of terror come
from knowledge of the hostilities of the West coupled with a parochial
interpretation of events that excludes any other perspective besides the one
that the West is unmitigatibly evil.

That was a lot for my first post in over six months, thank you for reading it


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