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Attempts to explain anti-Western feelings among Muslims have centered on weaknesses in Islamic societies and opposition to U.S. foreign policy. Church historian Meic Pearse bucks the trend by focusing on cultural differences—and along the way makes some prickly points about Western ways.

In Why the Rest Hates the West, Pearse builds on the thesis of Samuel P. Huntington (The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Orders, Simon & Schuster, 1997) that cultural factors increasingly dominate world conflicts. Pearse more directly asserts that culture, not religion or foreign policy, causes most of the conflicts between the West and the rest.

He asserts that culture includes religion, but it's much more. While Huntington compares civilizations especially in the last 100 years, Pearse focuses on Western developments since the Reformation. And unlike Roger Scruton in The West and the Rest: Globalization and the Terrorist Threat (Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2002), Pearse does more than contrast the West's secular governments and Islam's divinely ordained political order. His portrayal of Western culture, however, bears some similarity to Scruton's description of non-Western caricatures of it.

Pearse argues that Western culture has changed so much since the Enlightenment that Western "common sense" is no longer self-evident to other cultures. Islamic cultures believe the West is "barbaric," showing lack of respect for the past, religion, family, and honor, while overindulging in sports, entertainment, and sex.

The result has been social atomization, dehumanization, and harm to the family and community. These ills have led not only to conflict with traditional cultures, but also to the West's moral and demographic ...

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March 2005

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