By all accounts, Taliban-style Islam did not set well with the Afghani
people. Afghani Islam is rooted in the Sufi tradition, with an accepting
attitude toward folk devotion, dancing and the human attributes of faith.
Suicidal "martyrdom" is foreign to the Afghan mind, and there was widespread, if
quiet, resistance to the puritanical tendencies of the Taliban.
I mention this because there is a tendency among Western commentators to
identify the modern Islamist movement with Islam itself. In fact it is,
historically, perhaps the harshest and most inhuman expression of that Faith. It
is as if the Taborites, or other violent puritanical Christian sects, had become
a dominant force in Christianity.
Islam has at times, been the bearer of advanced culture, with a fairly
tolerant attitude toward the other "People of the Book", Jews and Christians.
Indeed, Orthodox Christians at times preferred the "Turban" to the "Tiara"; ie,
Islamic to western Catholic rule, as the Muslims tended to interfere less with
their internal affairs. Of course, one can find plenty of examples of even
these more humane forms of Islam behaving in oppressive ways, just as one can
find plenty of examples of otherwise humane kinds of Christian rulers behaving
sinfully, but the fact is most historic expressions of Islam make the
Wahhabists and Jihadis look pretty narrow and brutal.
In fact, it seems that the human soul cannot long endure that which
militates against human nature. The descendents of the New England Puritans
became Unitarians, and who could have guessed a generation ago that Marxism
would collapse of its own weight?
This of course does not negate the short-term danger of Wahhabist
militancy, but it may give us a different perspective over the long run.
On the other hand, as in the case of the struggle against Marxism, perhaps
the greater danger historically will be consumerist capitalism, which is
seductive, rather than hostile, to fallen human nature.
The children of darkness seem to intuit this; Howard Stern has suggested,
with all seriousness, that the way to defeat Islamist militants is to fund huge
shipments of pornography to the Middle East, and for the American government to
build strip clubs in Islamic countries.
And we wonder why they hate us?