What Islam has that we don’t by Bruce Bawer


Back in February, I wrote about how, in my pre-Internet teens, my curiosity about my family history sent me to the genealogy room at the New York Public Library. As it happens, one name in particular really hit home for me when I found it in my tree. That would be the name of Charles Martel - the man who, on the tenth of October in the year 732, led the army that saved Europe from the forces of the Umayyad Caliphate at the Battle of Tours.

Nailing down that Martel nexus underscored for me a vitally important fact: namely, that one weapon that Muslims have in spades, and that we Westerners don't at all, is history. They remember these things. We don't - at least not in the fiercely acute way that they do. In this era of social networks and reality TV, an overwhelming number of us folks in the West inhabit an eternal present, preoccupied by the latest tweets, Facebook postings, and celebrity Instagram photos. We live and die by the daily news cycle, allowing ourselves to get worked up into a lather over trivial events that we'll forget about in a week.