When Muslim radicals and fundamentalists look at the West, they see only the openness that makes us, in their eyes, decadent and promiscuous. They see only the openness that has produced Britney Spears and Janet Jackson. They do not see, and do not want to see, the openness - the freedom of thought and inquiry - that has made us powerful, the openness that has produced Bill Gates and Sally Ride. They deliberately define it all as decadence. Because if openness, women's empowerment, and freedom of thought and inquiry are the real sources of the West's economic strength, then the Arab-Muslim world would have to change. And the fundamentalists and extremists do not want to change.
A Radical is a man with both feet firmly planted--in the air. A Conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned to walk forward. A Reactionary is a somnambulist walking backwards. A Liberal is a man who uses his legs and his hands at the behest--at the command--of his head.
LEFTISTS EAT THEIR CHILDREN: The poets, artists, and radicals are murdered first once the revolution actually comes about.
You see, it doesn't matter if they're wrong. From 9/11 to recent shootings here in the United States, there's nothing more dangerous than a true believer on his own crazy mission.
Radicals have value, at least; they can move the center. On a scale of 1 to 5, 3 is moderate, 1 and 5 the hardliners. But if a good radical takes it up to 9, then 5 becomes the new center. I already saw it working in the American Muslim community. For years women were neglected in mosques, denied entrance to the main prayer halls and relegated to poorly maintained balconies and basements. It was only after a handdful of Muslim feminists raised lunatic fringe demands like mixed-gender prayers with men and women standing together and even women imams giving sermons and leading men in prayer that major organizations such as ISNA and CAIR began to recognize the moderate concerns and deal with the issue of women in mosques. I've taken part in the woman-led prayer movement, both as a writer and as a man who prays behind women, happy to be the extremist who makes moderate reform seem less threatening. Insha'Allah, what's extreme today will not be extreme tomorrow.
The intelligence suffers today automatically in consequence of the attack on all authority, advantage, or privilege. These things are not done away with, it is needless to say, but numerous scapegoats are made of the less politically powerful, to satisfy the egalitarian rage awakened.