By Denis MacEoin
In asking why Western civilization has been the greatest in history, many point to European and, later, American military power, the strength of the British, French, Spanish and Portuguese empires, their command of the oceans, or the progress brought about through the Industrial Revolution. Today, of course, there is a general trend to picture Western achievements in a uniformly negative light, often for valid reasons, including our use of slavery or the mistreatment of so many Native Americans. This negativity is, however, highly selective. Why, for example, are Western Christian empires considered a blight on mankind while the great many Muslim empires of the past -- which lasted over a much longer period, engaged in the largest and longest-lasting slave trade in history, sought to impose one religion over all others, and placed enormous barriers on rational thought from about the 10thcentury -- regarded as a blessing?