There's supposedly an old saying in the Middle East that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. That may or not be true, but almost certainly the friend of my enemy is my enemy, or at a minimum, not my friend. And in their campaign to help hard-line Islamists in Turkey to propagate the fraud of intelligent design, conservative Christian creationists in the United States are doing great harm to the American project.
As PRI's global news program The World detailed on Thursday, the Seattle-based creationist Discovery Institute has taken its war against evolution to Turkey. At the very time Ankara is fighting to maintain its secular Islamic ethos as the nation battles for EU membership, the intelligent design (ID) charlatans have linked arms with fundamentalist Muslims to eject Darwin's theory from Turkish schools.
Fresh off defeats in Pennsylvania, Kansas and Georgia to entrench creationism alongside evolution, the Discovery Institute has sought allies in the Islamic world. In February, Darwin critic David Berlinski was among the Discovery Institute's contingent at an Intelligent Design conference in Istanbul. (The event was sponsored by the city's Cultural Affairs Bureau, which is controlled by the Islamist AK Party.) In the war against evolution and the scientific method, Berlinski believes Christians and Muslims can find common ground:
"This is a hot issue. We're n the midst of a worldwide religious revival. Historians 500 years from now will talk about the religious revival of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. There are a billion Muslims taking Islamic doctrine very seriously. Christians, too."
The budding creationist movement in Turkey is already having a chilling effect on the nation's science education. One public school teacher, who spoke anonymously for fear of retribution, described the tremendous pressure to teach creationism alongside the theory evolution. Some colleagues won't teach evolution at all.
How ironic that the radical Christian right, the most fervent acolytes of an expansive view of the struggle against Islamic terrorism, take sides with Muslim fundamentalists against the scientific method, among the core enlightenment values of Western civilization. Then again, as CNN's Christiane Amanpour suggested in her series about fundamentalist Christian, Muslim and Jewish movements called "God's Warriors", it is not ironic at all. The shared life and death battle against modernity can make strange bedfellows among even the bitterest foes. The likes of the Discovery Institute may hate Osama Bin Laden and his jihad against the West, but seemingly share his critique of Western culture.
Thanks to the good people at groups like the Discovery Institute, Americans don't need to travel to Kandahar – or even a few schools in Turkey - to see theocracy at work. Apparently, the American Taliban and their creationist allies are only too happy to offer it here at home.
Listen to report from The World here.