Why U.S. Muslims are silent
In this season of three religious holidays (Christmas, Hannukah, and Eid) and one ethnic one (Kwanza), the "clash of civilizations" theme becomes more salient. While in the Washington area yesterday, I noticed a television ad sponsored by the Embassy of Saudi Arabia (which I visited in early 1991), highlighting that country's cooperation in the struggle against terrorism. I just wish a greater portion of the people in Saudi Arabia were sincerely committed to that end.
Reason for a bit of skepticism in that regard is offered by Stephen Schwartz, who explains why so few American Muslims speak out against terrorism: "because the price of speaking out is immediate, coordinated attack." It puts an ironic twist on the Nixonian phrase "silent majority." The guilty party, in Schwartz's view, is the extremist "Wahhabi lobby," mainly funded by certain Saudi princes and Hamas. (via Instapundit)
Democracy evolves in Iraq
Demonstrations by Sunnis against the Iraq election results, and counter-demonstrations by Shiites in favor of the same, indicate that there is a lack of consensus on basic democratic norms. See Washington Post. Of course, the same thing could be said of the United States since November 2000 at least, suggesting that we should not set our standards too high. The big increase in turnout by Shiite Muslims suggest that a large portion of that group is coming to realize that their future depends on participating in democratic processes, and that their interests are not served by cooperating with the terrorist resistance of Baathists and fanatics linked to Al Qaeda. Iraq obviously has a long way to go, just as the United States did in 1789. The ball is mostly on their side of the court now, and all we can do as the gradual withdrawal of U.S. troops gets underway is hope for the best. Democracy can be encouraged, under the right conditions, but it can't be force-fed.