Today, thanks to last week's violence in the Mideast, the dark side emerged again: Sam Huntington's Clash of Civilizations. Yuck cubed. The idea that there is an inevitable clash between the Mideast/Islamic World and the West/Christian World sucks on so many levels, but gets a patina of apparent support from the events. However, given that Libyans were trying to rescue US Ambassador Stevens, well, Clash gets many things wrong.
This lead to a debate between Phil Arena and W.K. Winecoff about whether to waste undergrads time with the inclusion of Clash of Civilizations in an Intro to IR class. In the good olde days of yore, when I taught Intro to IR, I went back and forth on this--should I waste my students' time with this utter crap, this social anti-science, this speculation sans facts, this racist conceptualization? And, because the lecture tended to kill, that I was able to entertain and educate about how this one theory destroys knowledge and creates ignorance, I kept doing it.
To be clear, I am biased as I work on identity politics--on ethnic ties and nationalisms--and feel that Huntington makes the rest of us look bad. Yes, identity matters, but not always religion and never as a civilization. Ah, it drives me crazy. Glad the kids of today (Phil and W.K.) have the energy to fight this fight so I don't have to.