Sorry for not posting for so long…I’ll try to get back up to speed.
Here’s a quotation from Garry Wills’ yearning for the Enlightenment’s return (written shortly after President Bush’s 2004 election):
The secular states of modern Europe do not understand the fundamentalism of the American electorate. It is not what they had experienced from this country in the past. In fact, we now resemble those nations less than we do our putative enemies.
Where else do we find fundamentalist zeal, a rage at secularity, religious intolerance, fear of and hatred for modernity? Not in France or Britain or Germany or Italy or Spain. We find it in the Muslim world, in Al Qaeda, in Saddam Hussein’s Sunni loyalists. Americans wonder that the rest of the world thinks us so dangerous, so single-minded, so impervious to international appeals. They fear jihad, no matter whose zeal is being expressed.
In an effort to see past his own nose, he decides to ignore it completely. In France we may not find a ‘rage at secularity’, but we certainly find a secular rage. In Britain we may not find ‘religious intolerance’, but we certainly find intolerance of religion. Throughout much of Europe, we may not find ‘fear of and hatred of modernity’, but we certainly find modern fear and modern hatred. At the center of each of these characteristics lie the fundamentalist zeal, the epistemological arrogance, the unthinking imperialism that remains the efficient cause of the rest. A return to the Enlightenment would be a return to the veil of ignorance and cultural blinders that Wills himself would doubtlessly repudiate.