Lessons from History for the Here and Now: Thoughts Inspired by “When Muslims Admired the West and Were Admired Back”

I highly recommend reading this article (link below) by UCLA history professor Nile Green. We need to learn more from the lessons of history as we endeavour to forge mutually enriching ties between Muslims and the “western world” in the present.

One of the key elements of such community, as the article illuminates, is the recognition of and unity in universal struggles across cultural frontiers. Insistence on this emancipatory principle is one of the reasons I find Slavoj Zizek’s works so compelling, and timely.

In the article, the Muslim students living abroad in London admired and learned from the feminist struggle there, and were moved to action. What could be more universal–and inspiring–than that?!

The only area where I see a need for expansion is with regard to the mutuality of responsibility to reach out and learn from the “other”. The onus cannot be solely on Muslims to do so. We all, as human beings, share in this fundamental responsibility. And in so doing we are walking the exhilarating walk of making a better world. Let’s do this!

Read and share the article here: Zócalo Public Square :: When Muslims Admired the West and Were Admired Back

This is not an aberration… yet.


I encountered this scene as I was on a morning walk today. I was contemplating some of the implications of Slavoj Zizek’s thinking, having only recently been acquainted with it via his latest (and truly transcendant) film: The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology. Can’t recommend it enough. See it. In fact, check out any of his stuff and I guarantee you’ll be amused, challenged and happy you did so.

Back to the picture.  Crisis is coming. Strike that. It’s here. Try though we might to forget about it, we’re enveloped in it. So, what can we do? Do we recoil from this truly tragic imagery? Seek to justify it or explain it away? Or do we allow the unbridled inquisitiveness of our inner child to go down the rabbit hole as far as is necessary to find answers? Perhaps we know that answers only compel deeper questions, the slope of the rabbit hole becoming steeper, our clinging to the rooted illusions of the surface more tenuous…

Question, we must. I mean, we couldn’t help it if we tried. We’re the questioning mammal, after all. That’s what makes us human. And just to be clear, I share the Zizekian optimism regarding humanity’s prospects for the future. This image is a problem to be solved, and there is a solution. What do you think the solution is?