Neoconservatives, Reality, And Religious Relativism



In Get With The Global Program, Gaul, I mention a book with which a number of prominent neoconservatives seem enthralled. Olivier Roy, the author of Globalized Islam: The Search for a New Ummah, draws parallels between radical Islamists and the broader movement of born-again Christians. You heard me. If that makes you shake in your boots (I’m being cynical, of course. Would that the asinine analogy held; we’d be safe), thank your lucky stars. The author believes these Islamic revivalists are doomed to become “a remote, detached community, like the Hasidic Jews and the Exclusive Brethren.” If only the comparison worked. If I were able to wave a magic wand so that born-again Christians and Exclusive Brethren usurped Islamists in the world, I’d do it in a heart beat. Islamism, sadly, is said to have hundreds of millions of active adherents, who do not come in peace. Still. at least two of the neoconservatives I cite in the column dig the book’s religious relativism. Is that significant?
The author, Roy, also sees Islamic radicalism as a revolt against—and a sign of—rapid acculturation, triggered by contact with the West. Islam, apparently, is in the throes of modernization; its atavism is actually advancement in disguise. Neoconservatives don’t care for reality, and they are anything but uncreative when it comes to subverting it. Thus they are in agreement when evidence against a theory is cast as evidence for a theory, as it is in this book. Like magpies to trash, they are also (at least these two) drawn to superficially clever ideas which are not truly insightful because their relationship to reality is at best tangential.