There’s an International Herald Tribune article (which I found a link to at dangerousmeta) which dares ask whether the current conflict has its roots in Islamic extremism or in Islam itself. It’s a question I’ve wrestled with a lot over the past month. Ultimately, though, I wonder whether the question is relevant at all. I firmly believe that religion is one aspect of culture, and as such, is subject to evolution and change, regardless of its dogma.
One might have wondered whether there were fundamental problems with Chritianity that led to intolerance and violence at many points in the past. Even today, certain people believe that the Bible demands that Christians segregate themselves by race. Does this mean that Christianity is fundamentally flawed? Does it matter?
Clearly, regardless of what the Quran says, there are plenty of practicing Muslims who are happy and willing participants in pluralistic societies all over the world. Even if the prevailing Islamic dogma considers their lifestyle to be sinful or anti-Islamic, they have obviously reconciled that with their faith.
We (as Westerners) can’t force people who hate us and our culture to change their beliefs, regardless of whether their beliefs are religious, or cultural, or acquired individually (like Timothy McVeigh or Ted Kaczynski). All we can attempt is to be fair and just, and to protect ourselves to the degree possible.