Camille Paglia or Samuel Huntington? It was hard to tell Wednesday when Paglia said in an interview with Tracy Clark-Flory in Salon that "the escalating instability not just in Egypt but throughout the Mideast is very ominous. There is a clash of cultures brewing in the world that may take a century or more to resolve — and there is no guarantee that the secular West will win."

This is the kind of talk that has gotten many another writer and commentator labeled as a racist bigot. Paglia's "clash of cultures" is closely akin to Huntington's "clash of civilizations," which notwithstanding how obvious it is that just such a clash is taking place now, is widely derided in the mainstream media.

As Huntington famously observed in The Clash of Civilizations, "Wherever one looks along the perimeter of Islam, Muslims have problems living peaceably with their neighbors. The question naturally rises as to whether this pattern of the late 20th century conflict between Muslim and non-Muslim groups is equally true of relations between groups from other civilizations. In fact, it is not. Muslims make up 1/5 of the world's population but in the 1990s they have been far more involved in intergroup violence than the people of any other civilization….Islam's borders are bloody, and so are its innards" (p. 256).

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