In 1427, a ship captain sailing for his Portuguese Prince, Henry the Navigator, discovered the Azores Islands. If the question of the significance of this event had been posed, at the time, to Sultan Murad Khan (the leader of the Ottoman Empire), or to Itzcoatl and Nezahualcoyotl (the co-leaders of the Aztecs) or to Rao Kanha (one of the princes of Jodhpur in India), it is unlikely that any of them would have responded that it is an early indication of a historic explosion of cultural energy in Europe that will lead to European exploration and conquest of most of the known world, and to a renaissance of European thought that will give rise to scientific, industrial and scholarly dominance of the planet by European culture for at least half a millennium.
Today, no European or American leaders with whom I am familiar have tied the Sept. 11, 2001 attack, the various Islamist bombing attacks around the world, the push for Sharia law in the West and the current disturbances in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Jordan, Syria and Bahrain together as symptoms of one larger phenomenon.
The Islamist attacks in the West and elsewhere are characterized as the actions of a politically radicalized group of Muslims driven by poverty, political suppression and cultural deprivation -- who represent a tiny fraction of Islam.
The current disturbances in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, etc., are separately explained -- by many conservatives and liberals as evidence of a sudden Muslim thirst for democracy -- driven by poverty, political suppression and cultural deprivation.
Well, maybe. But I suspect that such interpretations trivialize the magnitude and causes of these events. After all, those sadly familiar factors of poverty, political suppression and cultural deprivation have existed in most Muslim lands for many centuries. Why are they suddenly triggers to mass action?
Six years ago, in my book "The West's Last Chance" (page 23), I theorized that "...the mortal threat we face comes not merely from Osama bin Laden and a few thousand terrorists. Rather, we are confronted with the Islamic world -- a fifth of mankind -- in turmoil, and insurgent as it has not been in at least five hundred years, if not fifteen hundred years. The magnitude of this cultural upheaval cannot yet be measured..."
"Today we face a force of human passion that may well match a similar expansion that burst out of Renaissance Christian Europe and came to be known in the West as the Age of Discovery -- but was known everywhere else as the age of conquest, imperialism and colonialism. And let it be noted, the quality of the human stock that surged out of fifteenth century Europe was in no way superior to that which today peoples the Islamic world."
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.