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Don't Blame Islam For Violence In the Middle East, Blame the Culture that Condones it

The United States is only prolonging the suffering by fundamentally misunderstanding what ails the region and meddling where we don't belong.

It was a cute story: A male teen in Saudi Arabia spent a few weeks flirting with an American girl from California and eventually joked about marrying her. But this kind of flirting is strictly forbidden in his country so he was arrested by the morality police (yes, that's a real thing in Saudi Arabia). The Saudi teen has since repented his wicked ways after facing five years in jail.

The moral of the story is: Something is fundamentally broken in many Middle Eastern cultures.

This will not be a popular opinion among liberals who subscribe to "cultural relativism" -- the idea that we are not in a position to judge other cultures. Sorry, but we are. Any culture that stones a woman to death for pre-marital sex or beheads "witches" is a culture of savages and barbarians. I don't give a damn if they have cell phones and HDTVs; they're cultural cavemen.

And while it's tempting to blame all of this on Islam, that's bullshit too. The religion is irrelevant if the culture is debased by fundamentalism. This will not be a popular opinion among conservatives (and even liberals) who insist that Islam is uniquely violent and dangerous. The reality is that if the Middle East were predominantly Christian instead of Islamic, it would still be a bloody horror show but people would be screaming "Praise Jesus!" instead of "Praise Allah!" when detonating a car bomb.

There are two main ways we know this to be the case:

  1. Before fundamentalism took over and finished the destruction of the enlightened cultures of the Middle East started by the Mongul hordes, Islam was quite fine with other religions. Jews and Christians were allowed to practice their religions unmolested in Muslim countries. Science and the arts flourished during this period and religious violence was not the everyday occurrence it is now. Clearly, if Islam were the religion of violence and ignorance people make it out to be, this could never have happened.
  2. No matter how violent or depraved the country of their origin is, when Muslims settle down in culturally advanced countries, very few of them bring the violence with them. The reason for this is painfully simple: Where religious violence is not encouraged or tolerated, it mostly disappears. There's a reason why there are almost no "honor killings" in the United States. We do not allow it and anyone caught practicing such barbarism is put into jail. 

Even looking back at America's history, we can see times when our culture was just as sick and twisted as parts of the Middle East today. We burned women at the stake for being witches. We slaughtered millions of Native Americans. We enslaved millions of our fellow humans. We allowed black men to be lynched. And we did it all in the name of Jesus Christ.

But let's not kid ourselves, Christianity was not the driving force of this sickness, it was our own debased culture; a culture we fought for generations to change and improve and enrich. And we did it. We evolved as a culture to the point where the concept of owning another human is one of the most repugnant ideas imaginable (despite the Bible openly advocating for slavery.)

We're still a predominantly Christian nation and we used to use the Bible as an excuse for all kinds of heinous cruelty. Obviously, the Bible hasn't changed but our culture did. That, in turn, affected how we interpret Christianity.

The bottom line is that religion does not dictate the culture, culture dictates the religion. The more savage and backwards the culture, the more savage and backwards the practice of religion.

We are not at war with Islam and we never have been. We've been at war with degenerate cultures and have made them even more so by carpet bombing what progress they've made. In other countries, our support for corrupt theocracies have emboldened the most sadistic segments of their populations to seize power. That is how a goofy teen in Saudi Arabia can face 5 years in jail for flirting with a California blonde.

The United States is only prolonging the suffering by fundamentally misunderstanding what ails the region and meddling where we don't belong. The population of the Middle East has to want to end the cruelty, bloodshed and oppression they inflict on themselves before anything will get better. Until then, they will continue to be their own worst enemy.