THOUGHTS ON THE ISLAMIC WORLD BY JAMES Q. WILSON
This article appeared on Frontpagemag.com
over a year ago but since Wilson's points on the centrality of freedom and modernity bear repeating, I thought I'd post the link
. A quote:
"The central question is not why freedom of conscience failed to come to much of Islam but why it came at all to the West. Though Westerners will conventionally assign great weight to the arguments made by the defenders of freedom, I do not think that the ideas of Milton, Locke, Erasmus, and Spinoza—though important—were decisive.
What made religious toleration and later freedom of conscience possible in England was not theoretical argument but political necessity. It was necessary, first in England and later in America and much of Europe, because rulers trying to govern nations could not do so without granting freedom to people of different faiths. In the words of Herbert Butterfield, toleration was “the last policy that remained when it had proved impossible to go on fighting any longer.”