Friday, July 8, 2016

Is America Heading Toward a Clash of Civilizations? By Michael Laitman.

Police officers conduct a manhunt after a mass shooting in San Bernardino, California December 2, 2015. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Is America heading toward a clash of civilizations? By Michael Laitman. Jerusalem Post, July 7, 2016.


The San Bernardino and Orlando massacres are not isolated incidents; they are the beginning of a new, bloody era in America.

This week, America celebrated 240 years of independence. Much has changed in America since the original thirteen states agreed to unite under the premise that all men are created equal, and are endowed with the unalienable rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Now, it seems, America is about to face a final, lethal blow to these truths, which are apparently no longer self-evident.

In recent years, the Muslim “occupation by immigration” of Europe has crossed the Atlantic and introduced itself to the US. If successful, it will transform America from a democracy into a fundamentalist tyranny whose law is the Sharia, and the First Amendment will become a distant memory.

While this doom and gloom scenario is not inevitable, the situation requires resolve, and an understanding that while all faiths are welcome in America, Islam included, they must also respect the freedom of practice and belief (or lack thereof) of all other people. Without this fundamental understanding among all the forces shaping American society, a clash of civilizations will be unavoidable, with horrific consequences to the American society and to the rest of the world.

The Boon after the Bust

America emerged from the despair of The Great Depression and the ashes of World War II as a superpower that dominated the international political arena. The necessity to rebuild its economy, and the need to manufacture weapons and produce food for the war effort, turned America into a factory that created exemplary goods such as cars, planes, tanks and home appliances. America was progress; America was the future. The hard work of the 1930s and 40s paid off, and by the 1950s, America had become the symbol of success and power. The American Dream, it seemed, was within reach for every American.

Economic success and military might lead to dominance on the international arena. The American values of free speech, capitalism, and democracy dominated the West, and the US became the undisputed leader of The Free World.

Taking Success for Granted

However, as it often happens, when something we do works well, we assume that the next generation will naturally take after us. Yet, America’s strength came not from its wealth and power, but from hard work, the commitment of many people to help themselves and their country, and the sense of shared, just social values. Hard work and sound ethics are not hereditary; they must be infused and cultivated. As Americans grew affluent, they became condescending, spoiled, and gradually abandoned the values that had given their country its strength. Discipline at school grew lax, and JFK’s aphorism, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,” gradually became devoid of substance. This was the beginning of America’s decline.

The Melting Pot

Another important aspect of America’s success is its diversity of cultures, faiths, and ethnicities. The more these different elements strove to blend into the American society, the more robust the society became, creating jobs and growing markets for American goods and services.

But perhaps the most important ingredient in the American melting pot is that all strata of society aspire for the goal described in the Declaration of Independence: Everyone is equal and endowed with the unalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. When Martin Luther King, Jr. fought for African Americans, he did not advocate separating them from America. On the contrary, he fought for their unalienable rights to become a legitimate, equal part of American society. Around the same time, the classic musical, West Side Story, portrayed the clash of ethnicities and raised a cry against ethnic hatred. In those days, it seemed as though America was a leader in acculturation and assimilation.

But all this has changed in recent years.

A Clash of Civilizations

After decades of cultivating excessive consumerism and self-indulgence, Americans have become too self-absorbed, overworked, and socially indifferent to notice what is happening around them. This has made the country susceptible to the aspirations of foreign elements to rise to power. When a new kind of Islam began to pour into America, there was no one to stop it. This is not the Islam that America had known—the inclusive, tolerant Islam that Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. adopted when he converted and became Muhammad Ali.

Just as it is currently doing in Europe, the newly imported Islam has come to take over, not to become part of America’s melting pot or even to coexist. The San Bernardino and Orlando massacres are not isolated incidents; they are the beginning of a new, bloody era in America: an era of a clash of civilizations where the more determined will win.

This war of cultures is just beginning. If America wakes up now, it will still be able to cope with the invasion. But if it stays asleep and lets the stealth infiltration continue uninterrupted, then America can look at Europe to see where it will be a few short years from now.

The Weapon: Education

To win the battle for its values and traditions, America must return to its original tenets. There is nothing wrong with healthy nationalism when it represents a country that believes that all men are born equal and therefore have the right to choose their faith freely. There is also nothing wrong with securing the future of these cornerstones of society by requiring that newcomers uphold them, too.

King Solomon said that “love covers all crimes” (Proverbs, 10:12). A successful education for cohesion must not only accept, but embrace differences, and use them to enrich and fortify society. Accordingly, America need not ban the entrance of Muslims, or of any other group of people. Instead, it must introduce its foundational values to all aspiring newcomers before they immigrate.

Indoctrination to American values, which are actually Western values, must begin abroad, in the immigrants’ native countries. Upon evaluation of their sincere desire to become part of American society and culture, they can be admitted for a trial stay. After several years, when it is evident that they have adopted their hosts’ values, they can be granted full citizenship and be accepted as integral members of the American society. In this way, social integrity will be maintained, while diversity, which cultivates its beauty and vitality, will be enhanced.

The principle of love and cohesion that covers all differences must be the leading factor in determining who may enter “the land of the free.” If America adopts this principle, its diversity of ethnicities and faiths will enrich the people and empower the country. If America wants to be great again, as one candidate for presidency has put it, this is the way to go. If not, it will stop being America.