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February 2012 Policy Study, Number 12-3


The Idea of "the West" and the Revolt Against It

by Donald Paul Byron Racheter



The Idea of "the West"



Today when the world tends to point the finger towards “the West” in response to its problems, it is not always clear to what the finger points. “The West” is increasingly the subject of attack by the wanting, the hungry, the poor, the East, the Mideast, South America, Latin America, the middle-class, the rich, the intellectual elite, as well as by Europe, America, the geographic West, and the modern world. If seemingly anyone, anywhere in the world, including in Europe and North America, might blame “the West” for his problems, what exactly is meant by “the West”?


For example, during the war in Iraq The New York Times related how a group of Iraqi insurgents lured members of the newly formed Iraqi police force to raid a house riddled with explosives.[4] The incident began when a Sudanese man on an adjacent roof top started randomly killing people on the street. When the police responded to reports of shootings, two bearded men approached the police vehicle and told the police that they suspected the owners of the house were terrorists. When the police demanded the occupants of the house abandon the property and no one left, the police raided the house. The terrorists then detonated the house-bomb, killing seven Iraqi police and at least twenty-five others.


The purpose of this attack and others like it was simply to scare the Iraqi people; to strike fear into their very beings. The aim was to convince them that their lives would never be peaceful, specifically if the Iraqi people voted in democratic elections to start a new government. Some groups of individuals in Iraq and elsewhere in the Mideast are not playing by the “rules,” do not have a similar regard for human life as does “the West,” and are extremely determined to keep Western democracy from their region. Does the democratic form of government then answer our question of what is “the West”?


An evaluation of what Abu-Rabi[5], for example, considers the intellectual element of Islamic resurgence reveals that there is a significant element in the Mideast that regards the cultural and scientific decline of the Islamic nation as due to the influence and thought of this “West.” Is this true? How do I as a citizen of the West and of the most powerful nation, militarily and financially, answer this accusation?


Abu-Rabi reveals that Hasan al-Banna and Sayyid Qutb, the founders of the Muslim Brotherhood, believed that the appropriate way to revitalize the Islamic nation was to purge all “Western” influence from Islam, and return to the “roots” of Islam. That there is need for an intelligent critique to the thought that shapes the Muslim Brotherhood and other such Islamic resurgent elements, and subsequently Islamic terrorism, therefore becomes of utmost importance and applies to many, including: Marwan Yousif, neighbor to that house-bomb in Baghdad, Iraq; the Iraqi nation; the stability of the Mideast in general and Israel in particular; Spain, Japan and all other free nations of the world who have been victims of terrorist attacks; and those nations who might be considered supporters of “the West” and therefore marked for future attack. It is important to each person who died on the airplanes that served as airborne bombs which struck America in 2001, to the owners of the airlines and to any airplane traveler in the world, to the family of each New York City firefighter who died following the 9/11 attacks, and to the American and other nations’ troops who continue to fight for a free Mideast and world, as well as global market stability, etc. Extensive examples serve to show just how hard it is to overestimate the importance of this question. To understand what “the West” is—and is not—is of dire importance to the entire world. We must have answers to the thought that drives anti-Western sentiment. We must be able to evaluate if the West can learn from anti-Western sentiment. We must be able to evaluate what the West is now, what it should become, and how we are to get there.



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