Clash of Civilizations: Real or Racist?

Officials inspect the damaged St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, north of Colombo, after multiple explosions targeted churches and hotels across Sri Lanka on April 21.
Chamila Karunarathne/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Clash of Civilizations: Real or Racist?

When you saw flames roaring from the roof of Notre Dame Cathedral, did you think, I wonder if this is an Islamist terrorist attack? I did. The Islamic State has pledged to attack Christian targets, churches in France are under attack, and terrorists have been caught trying to attack Notre Dame. Until it was announced that the fire was started by accident, I thought it was a reasonable question.

According to the Washington Post, you are racist if you thought that.

This is a narrative coming increasingly into the open: Anyone who believes there may be a clash of civilizations between Islam and the West is evidently racist.

Sadly, just a few days later, those of us who believed some Muslims might attack churches were proved right. Over 300 people died on April 21 when Islamists attacked people attending Easter church services in Sri Lanka.

But once again, the media’s bias was on full display. I wrote an article on the Easter Sunday attack shortly after it happened. When you see headlines about a massive attack, with hundreds dead, you have one burning question: Who did this? Basic journalistic standards dictate that this crucial fact will be one of the first things you tell your readers.

Yet in article after article, the who was conspicuously missing.

It wasn’t because we didn’t know yet. Associated Press quickly published strong circumstantial evidence that the Islamist group National Thowheeth Jama’ath was behind the attack. On Twitter, terrorism experts were already beginning to connect the dots with the Islamic State. But all this was either buried at the bottom of the articles or missing altogether.

I’m sure you’ve noticed this already. If someone commits a murderous atrocity at a hotel tomorrow, it will be portrayed one of two ways. If the perpetrator is a neo-Nazi, the headline will be “White Supremacist Murders Dozens.” But if the perpetrator is a Muslim, the headline will be more like “Hotel Explosion Kills Fifty”—as if the dead are victims of some form of spontaneous combustion.

But it is getting worse. Canadian columnist Mark Steyn wrote, “One senses that a line was crossed in yesterday’s [Sunday’s] coverage.”

There’s a deliberate agenda behind this. And it’s concealing one of the most important news events in modern times.

Talia Lavin’s piece last week in the Washington Post exposed the thinking of many in the media. She condemned “far-right pundit Ben Shapiro” for calling Notre Dame a “monument to Western civilization” and “Judeo-Christian heritage.” The “far-right” label is very questionable, but Lavin is a former fact-checker, who was fired for making stuff up.

“Given the already-raging rumors about potential Muslim involvement, these tweets evoked the specter of a war between Islam and the West that is already part of numerous far-right narratives,” she wrote.

Nothing that Shapiro said is untrue. But because it evokes some “specter,” he is far right.

“It is past time that those who stoke inflammatory rhetoric, knowing its potential to catalyze racist violence, were made to stop playing with fire,” Lavin concluded (emphasis added throughout). So if you think civilizations are clashing, not only are you wrong, and not only are you racist, but you must be “made” to shut up.

In the wake of the Sri Lanka attacks, the Washington Post is at it again. Yesterday it published its view of the attack with an article titled “Christianity Under Attack? Sri Lanka Church Bombings Stoke Far-right Anger in the West.” So after churches are attacked, there’s still a question mark on the first part—but the second part is sure.

The article stated that “after Sri Lankan officials blamed a local Muslim militant group, National Thowheed Jama’ath, for the attack on Monday, European far-right groups and activists began to describe the attacks in specifically religious terms.” A radical religious group attacks religious buildings on a religious holiday. But if you describe it in “religious terms,” then you are far right. The article continued in this vein, insinuating that anyone who sees this as part of a clash between Christian-based civilization and Muslim-based civilization is, you guessed it, racist.

So the media downplay attacks committed by Muslims. At the same time there is a huge level of persecution on Christians that is also underreported. The Catholic Herald noted earlier this month:

[I]n Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East, North Africa, Iran, Pakistan and Turkey, Christians (along with Jews) are the victims of a rising tide of Islamist and jihadist fervor. This is a political perversion of Islam and believed by a minority among Muslims, but it is a large social phenomenon that influences and overwhelms governments. Thus, sometimes governments persecute Christians directly as in Sudan; sometimes they try to restrain and punish mob attacks on Christians, as recently in Pakistan; sometimes they turn a blind eye to such crimes as religious murder and the burnings of churches (in which, indeed, police and soldiers take part) as in Egypt; and often they veer back and forth between these different responses depending on pressures from foreign governments and ngos. The end result is that some of the oldest Christian communities in the world are being driven from Iraq and Syria, and that the Copts in Egypt—5 percent of the population—live a half-life in the shadows between official protection, Islamist violence and emigration.

In Europe, two churches are attacked every day. It’s hard to get any information about who is behind these attacks, largely because the journalists in the mainstream news organizations with the resources to find out are declining to pursue the matter. It’s clear that some attacks are carried out by Muslims, and some are by radical secularists. But statistics are hard to come by. Still, we have enough to see the problem is real. For example, last year, in France alone, 1,063 Christian churches or symbols were attacked.

Yet many avoid mentioning the problem. It was this instinct that led former United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former President Barack Obama to tweet about attacks on “Easter worshipers” rather than use the “C” word.

Anything that gives any indication that there is a “clash of civilizations” must be avoided.

The term “clash of civilizations” was coined by political scientist Samuel Huntington. After the Soviet Union fell and the Cold War ended, many, especially on the left, saw the world slowly developing toward a single civilization. Values like democracy, free speech and the rule of law would ultimately spread through the Americas, Africa and Asia.

In 1996, Huntington put forward a very different view. In his original essay on the subject, he wrote, “[T]he fundamental source of conflict in this new world will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural.” He forecast that “the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations.”

His book is excellent. At its heart is a view of human nature very close to what is described in the Bible. The human heart is “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked,” Jeremiah 17:9 states. Man is naturally selfish. He works hard to get and to exalt himself. One manifestation of this is “rivalry, factions, party-spirit” (Galatians 5:20; Moffatt translation). Humans naturally divide into factions and emphasize what makes their group different, and therefore superior, to others.

Man’s “love for, and sense of loyalty toward his group, whether small or large, means automatically a hostile attitude toward whatever or whoever is opposed,” wrote Herbert W. Armstrong. “So human nature automatically expresses resentment, jealousy, malice, spite, hatred, toward opposing parties, whether within or without his world.”

Much as we may hate to face it, hating and opposing others are key parts of human nature. This is where Huntington begins. “There can be no true friends without true enemies. Unless we hate what we are not, we cannot love what we are,” so says a character in Michael Dibdin’s novel Dead Lagoon—a quote Huntington uses to start his book.

“For people seeking identity and reinventing ethnicity, enemies are essential, and the potentially most dangerous enmities occur across the fault lines between the world’s major civilizations,” writes Huntington. “We know who we are only when we know who we are not and often only when we know whom we are against.”

This aspect of human nature ascribes significant meaning to everything that sets apart one civilization or culture from another. “In the post-Cold War world, flags count and so do other symbols of cultural identity, including crosses, crescents and even head coverings, because culture counts, and culture identity is what is most meaningful to most people,” he writes.

The most powerful of these is religion, because it is the most individual and important. “Millennia of human history have shown that religion is not a ‘small difference’ but possibly the most profound difference that can exist between people,” Huntington writes. He chronicles the meteoric rise of religion since the end of the Cold War.

In 1989, Central Asia had only 160 active mosques. Four years later, there were 10,000. Moscow had 50 churches in 1988. Four years later, it had 250. Around the same time, nearly a third of Russians under age 25 said they had switched from being atheistic to believing in God.

In the still officially atheistic state of China, the World Religion Database shows the total number of followers of all religions jumping from around 300 million in 1970 to around 700 million today. Despite government attempts to stop it, religion has spread much faster than Chinese population growth.

In South Korea in 1962, 2.6 percent of the population were Buddhist and 5 percent were Christian. Now 23 percent are Buddhist and more than 29 percent are Christian.

“In the modern world, religion is a central, perhaps the central, force that motivates and mobilizes people,” Huntington writes. “It is sheer hubris to think that because Soviet communism has collapsed, the West has won the world for all time and that Muslims, Chinese, Indians and others are going to rush to embrace Western liberalism as the only alternative.”

Time has proved Huntington dramatically correct. He wrote his book before 9/11, when radical Islam made itself a major concern to everyone in the world. He wrote it before head coverings became one of the major political issues in Europe, the bastion of liberal multiculturalism. He wrote it long before the migrant crisis led to a new crop of parties in Europe that emphasized Europe’s separate religious and cultural identity. He wrote it before it became obvious that China was not walking down the path to liberal democracy.

Yet Huntington also faced repeated accusations of being racist. Liberal professor Edward Said called Huntington’s ideas “the purest invidious racism, a sort of parody of Hitlerian science directed today against Arabs and Muslims.”

Evidence doesn’t matter. Perhaps it is because Huntington’s book is so well argued that critics have to hurl the “r” word at him.

But there’s a more important reason to watch for a clash of civilizations—and why the evidence is being covered up.

Daniel 11:40-45 describe an end-time confrontation between two power blocs called “the king of the north” and “the king of the south.” Our free booklet The King of the South proves that the king of the south refers to radical Islam led by Iran, and the king of the north refers to a German-led European power.

This passage reveals that there is a strong religious component to this clash—it is a clash of civilizations.

The passage notes that Libya, Ethiopia and Egypt are against the king of the north, and thus on the same side as the king of the south. Islam is the most powerful force that can reach beyond national borders and unite such a coalition. Although Ethiopia is a majority-Christian country, it has a strong Muslim minority and many Muslims in its neighboring countries.

This passage also tells us that this conflict revolves around Jerusalem and the Holy Land. The victorious king of the north “shall enter also into the glorious land” (verse 41). “[H]e shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain …” (verse 45). This power sets up a religious headquarters in Jerusalem.

Why all this fighting and focus on Jerusalem? It has some strategic value, but there are lots of other strategically important places in the Middle East. But Jerusalem has unrivaled religious importance. Both the king of the south and the king of the north are driven to conquer it because of religion.

“Notice, the religious leader will move his headquarters to Jerusalem—and not just for protection,” writes Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry in The King of the South. “He could go to many other cities that would be safer. But this will be a religious act of faith. This religious leader considers Jerusalem to be the most holy place on Earth—the ‘center of the universe.’”

Other Bible prophecies dovetail perfectly with this passage and confirm that this will be a religious clash of civilizations. Revelation 17 gives a different description of this king of the north. Here it is symbolized by a terrifying beast, ridden by a woman—a symbol of a church in Bible prophecy. Its actions are guided and led by religion.

Here is the real reason for the attack on the idea of a “clash of civilizations.” Your Bible says it will happen. Radical Islam, led by Iran, will “push” at Europe. It will attack Europe’s religion, Catholicism, just like we saw in Sri Lanka. And this European power will respond powerfully with a new crusade.

The coming clash of civilizations is real. In fact, the Bible lists it as a key event before the return of Jesus Christ—one of the events that Christ Himself said we must “watch” for (Matthew 24:42).

Yet the media, the supposed watchdogs of society, don’t want to report on it. So they underreport and underemphasize attacks on churches in Europe—and even Islamic suicide bombers mass-murdering 290 Christians on Easter Sunday. They make it sound preposterous to believe that radical Muslims might be behind the attacks.

They probably don’t understand why they want to hide the truth, but the evil human heart hates God and His Word (Romans 8:7). This world is ruled by Satan the devil, who does not want people watching events leading to the return of Christ and the end of his rule (Revelation 12:9). The last thing he wants is people following Christ’s command to watch and pray.

So the media hides this clash of civilizations. But they won’t be able to hide it much longer. Already their attempts to distort reality are becoming absurd. As this clash builds, it will be impossible to hide.

So you need to understand this clash and watch for it. I’ve only given the briefest overview of the Bible’s prophecies in this article, but our free booklet The King of the South will explain this subject much more thoroughly. It will provide the necessary background to understand these events, no matter how thick the media’s smokescreen is.