There are essentially two models for the current encounter between Islam and the West. The Clash of Civilizations, the first model is held by a narrow slice of the population in First World countries, and an even smaller slice within the political and academic world. This model holds that we are experiencing a clash of civilizations between Islam and the West. A clash of civilizations resulting from the desire of Muslims to create a global civilization based on their religion and culture, by displacing all competing civilizations, primarily (but not limited to) Western Civilization. ---
-- the Assimilationist Model remains very hard to shake. Its optimism and humanism makes it seem morally indefensible to its followers. But its fatal flaw, like that of all utopian delusions, is that it is completely unreal.
The core meaning of utopia is a place that cannot exist. The Assimilationist Model too posits a mythical place brought to life by the ideological will and intellectual laziness of a civilization at war, but refusing to acknowledge it. The rate of global Muslim violence has been steadily increasing, and while the proponents of the Assimilationist Model will always defend it by finding new sources to blame for growing Muslim outrage, almost as quickly as Osama bin Laden's videotaped ghost does (US Troops in Saudi Arabia, Israel, Global Warming, Western Culture, the WTO), this sort of intellectual sloppiness cannot even begin to explain why Muslim violence is not limited to the West, why it is not limited to developed countries, why in fact its only distinctive characteristic is the Muslim violence itself.
The Clash of Civilizations remains the only rational explanation and prescription for action. But it is also a difficult one, both practically and morally for many people to accept. But understanding the other side, requires understanding the flaws of the Assimilationist Model. For it is by understanding the nature of another's delusion, that we can begin to show them the truth.