In his article, Egypt’s Prison of Hate (Wall Street Journal, January 4, 2011), Bret Stephens writes in response to the New Year’s Eve massacre of a score of Coptic Christian worshipers in Alexandria, Egypt. The political reaction of many Muslim leaders in that country blamed the attack on a Zionist plot backed by Israel. Mr.Stephens recommends that Egyptians need old-fashioned liberalism, and in particular, disseminating an Arabic translation of the complete works of the liberal English philosopher, John Locke, starting with his “Letters Concerning Toleration.”
Unfortunately, old-fashioned liberalism has come and gone. This solution ignores the crucial role played by people’s socio-political character structure in determining current social behavior. Egyptians who are racist, and those leaders who defend atrocities such as this massacre, belong on the extreme right of the socio-political spectrum. These Egyptians should not be lumped with the majority of people in that country who belong more to the political center and are therefore, non-violent.
Moreover, promoting liberal thinking does not get to the source of the enormous quantities of hatred locked deep in the character structure of all Muslim extremists. This hatred is constantly seeking release in one form or another. The source of this hatred is the desire for revenge that is displaced from their personal lives onto jihad. Liberal philosophy which originated from the most superficial layer of human structure, cannot contain the reservoir of hatred of these extremists. Unless they are recognized and isolated from the rest of society, this scourge of destructive human behavior will continue to be out of control.