A few political commentators that I like talk often about “waging the war of ideas.” This is a fight that I would like to say I support! I’d even say that I hope my classroom is a place where different ideas can be shared, discussed, analyzed, and weighed – all in the effort to respectfully but directly pit ideas against one another. That’s ultimately why I chose our Middle East’s unit’s focus on “Identity and the Battle of Ideologies.” Yes, I believe that ideological battles are hugely important in the Middle East right now, particularly when it comes to the influence of Islam. But I hope that you see, especially after our Tea Day discussions, that the clash of ideologies is something that reaches much further than Islam and religious extremism. Fundamentalism can characterize any worldview, and all of us have different perceptions and opinions on every defining ideological term that people use — conservative/liberal, religious/secular, modern/traditional, fundamentalist/progressive, and so on.
To me, it’s easy to see what is wrong with religious fundamentalism. What I really want from you — which is why I included the reflection section on your research papers — is to think more critically about these ideologies, beyond simply calling them bad. With this in mind, I’d like you to compose a blog post that acts as a final reflection on our unit theme. You could respond to any of the following questions, which are the final three questions we touched on in class. Now’s your chance to add your final thoughts!
- If fundamentalism (in general) is dangerous, what “ideological values” should we embrace instead?
- Are “modern” or “progressive” values always better? (What do those words even mean?)
- What is the best way forward for humans (who are naturally “tribal” and “identity-oriented”) to live in a globalizing world? How should we establish our identity?