The Origins of the Current Violent Collision Between Arab and Western Cultures

As suicide bomb attacks become almost commonplace, planned and delivered by any of a number of extremist organizations who seem to harbour a virulent hatred of the West, we are forced to ask what it is that we in the West have done to ignite such a furious response? After all we don’t hate the Arabs. The Crusades have been history for a thousand years. We are happy to recognise the Arab sovereign states and we are happy to pay the price they set for their oil. So why do they seem to hate us so much? It is a question that deserves a little thought.

It is as well to be clear here about what I mean by ‘Arab culture’. The Afghans are not Arabs. The Pakistanis are not Arabs. The average Iraqi would be insulted if he was called an Arab. So why do I talk about ‘Arab’ culture even though the Taliban and various other terror organizations whose bitter hatred is focused on the West, come from countries that are not populated by ethnic Arabs? It is because they have embraced the Arab culture centred on the Muslim faith, the Arabic (or Persian) language and Arabic customs. So, there is a broadly shared culture which is spread wider than the Arab League and that is how I use the term.

It has been said that the ignorance of the Arab culture in the West is only exceeded by the ignorance of the Western culture by the Arabs. Their excuse is a much lower standard of education than is enjoyed in the West, coupled with a provincialism that stems from subsistence level poverty in generally agricultural communities. So what is the excuse of the West?

There is a pervasive sense in the West that our culture is superior to all other cultures on the planet. A thousand years of political development has meant that Western countries are democratic states of one form or another. It is considered a self-evident truth that this has to be the best and fairest way of running a country, so everybody should be like us. Our moral and intellectual values stem from the Bible and a generally Christian religious background. The runaway success of our Western Culture shows that the values and morals we generally espouse must be superior, so everybody should be like us. There is no need for us to learn about other cultures.

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