Saturday, March 11, 2006

Ask not what humankind can do for you....

Dr. Wafa Sultan, Syrian-born psychiatrist living in L.A. created a rage this week on Al Jazeera television with her critique of Muslim violence. She tells the New York Times today:

"The Jews have come from the tragedy and forced the world to respect them, with their knowledge, not with their terror; with their work, not with their crying and yelling. We have not seen a single Jew blow himself up in a German restaurant. We have not seen a single Jew destroy a church. We have not seen a single Jew protest by killing people. Only the Muslims defend their beliefs by burning down churches, killing people and destroying embassies. This path will not yield any results. The Muslims must ask themselves what they can do for humankind, before they demand that humankind respect them."

I hear the Islamist retort "Islam was a great civilization before Europe," yadda, yadda. Well, the Europeans eagerly learned from Islam, while Islam spurned learning from Europe (no thanks to the momentary Crusades, but that was just a moment of history, relative to the history of modern humanity—in the anthropological sense of 'modern'). Now, the prevailing voices of the West show eagerness to yet learn from Islam, yet in a context of burgeoning cosmopoly that Islam evidently doesn't envision. Meanwhile, the voices of moderation within the Islamic community (so justly distinguishing Islam from extremist criminality) couch that voice not in terms of the Q'uran, but in terms of ordinary "European" (really: humanitarian and humanist) modernity's integral capability for accomodation and hybridization (far beyond mere toleration).

"The clash we are witnessing around the world is not a clash of religions or a clash of civilizations," Dr. Sultan said. "It is a clash between two opposites, between two eras. It is a clash between a mentality that belongs to the Middle Ages and another mentality that belongs to the 21st century. It is a clash between civilization and backwardness, between the civilized and the primitive, between barbarity and rationality."

Indeed. A human is no longer a primate (though having the lineage and retaining some primate emotionality), but some "humans" are prevalently primates (with elaborate cognitive makeup), socialized superficially (which can look quite civilized), but plagued by primative (sic) culture and primate opportunism. While homo sapiens prevailed over homo neanderthalensis, and the basic (neurobiological) differentiation of human species has ended (pending transhumanity), the sociality of basic evolutionary struggle continues in culturally rationalized violence. The moderns will prevail over the primatives (just as primitivist art was something that indiginous peoples couldn't conceive), but the primatives, true to their nature, will fight to the finish.