The tendency of modern liberals to wring apologies out of governments for the actions of their ancestors, from the slave trade to Orientalist depictions of the peoples of Islam, is a pointless attempt to re-write history. There are, of course, no calls for Muslim governments to apologize for anything from their slave trade to the early Arab conquests.
“The ethics of establishing a campus in an authoritarian country are murky, especially when it inhibits free expression.” — Professor Stephen F. Eisenman, Northwestern University (which has a branch in Qatar)
Oxford and Cambridge, have accepted more than 233.5 million pounds sterling from Saudi and Muslim sources since 1995 — the largest source of external funding to UK universities.
“Several agreements made between the MEC [Oxford’s Middle East Centre] and donors appear to indicate that funders have sought to influence the centre’s output and activities.” — Robin Simcox, A Degree of Influence, 2009, p.35
One of those “dilemmas” is the influence by teachers across the United States on impressionable students who organize Israel Apartheid Weeks. They join with assorted anti-Semitic demonstrators, condemn Israel for every sin under the sun, and use intimidation against Jewish and Zionist colleagues, but are never told any historical, legal, or political facts by their equally biased faculties.
Fundamentalist Islam, backed by vast monetary power, is corrupting our dearest Enlightenment values.
In asking why Western civilization has been the greatest in history, many point to European and, later, American military power, the strength of the British, French, Spanish and Portuguese empires, their command of the oceans, or the progress brought about through the Industrial Revolution. Today, of course, there is a general trend to picture Western achievements in a uniformly negative light, often for valid reasons, including our use of slavery or the mistreatment of so many native Americans. This negativity is, however, highly selective. Why, for example, are Western Christian empires considered a blight on mankind while the great many Muslim empires of the past — which lasted over a much longer period, engaged in the largest and longest-lasting slave trade in history, sought to impose one religion over all others, and placed enormous barriers on rational thought from about the 10th century — regarded as a blessing?
The greatness of the modern West owes much to those discoverers, conquerors, and traders and to the worldwide enterprises they built — just as the Islamic empires had their explorers, traders, and international networks (as in the great Sufi orders). Important civilizations were created in both realms: great urban developments, great architecture, the first universities, great poetry, great art, great philosophy, a flurry of scientific and mathematical activity in the Muslim middle ages, and then in the Renaissance and the Industrial Revolution in Europe. The tendency of modern liberals to wring apologies out of governments for the actions of their ancestors, from the slave trade to Orientalist depictions of the peoples of Islam, is a pointless attempt to re-write history. There are, of course, no calls for Muslim governments to apologize for anything from their slave trade to the early Arab conquests.
The modern world of the West is a product of a period that created the greatest advances in human history: the Enlightenment. From that era we can date the beginnings of the most important strengths of our modern world. It is these strengths, in spite of the many blessings they have bestowed and their role as buttresses for cohesive societies, that are derided and often attacked from the Islamic sphere as well as by forces within the West. It is not hard to remember what those strengths are: liberal democracy, human rights, religious tolerance, international instruments for the managing of conflict, women’s rights, minority rights of all kinds, legislation out of political debate, an abhorrence of tyranny, freedom of thought, belief, and speech, critical inquiry, freedom of the press and other media, secularization that permits freedom of religious worship, and safety for the authors of opinions that dissent.