Lane proves that if Europe never interacted with Muslim civilization, our lives would be poorer, rougher, and less beautiful. She constantly illustrates how America has not only benefited from the legacy of this era, but also shares similar fundamental values and principles. America and the civilization of the Islamic Golden Age look most similar in their approach to multiculturalism and pluralism. During the Islamic Golden Age, peoples from across the known world–Hindus, Mongols, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Armenians, Jews, Persians, Medes, Arabs, Greeks, Egyptians, Phoenicians, Hittites, and many more–all lived together in relative harmony. A thousand years later and across an ocean, Spanish, Norwegian, Dutch, Germans, French, Irish, Scots, and Swedes, in a similar manner, cooperate regardless of their religious and cultural differences. “In both cases,” Lane writes, it was as if one spark had landed on gunpowder and created “a terrific outburst of human energy.”
Despite being separated by a thousand years and thousands of miles, both civilizations in Lane’s opinion share four important features. Both embrace a scientific approach to problems, experimenting and constantly increasing their pool of knowledge. Second, their essential function is the distribution of goods and the subsequent increase of comfort and pleasure. War, on the other hand, is unprofitable, it is to be avoided. Third, a humane ethos of tolerance towards all races and creeds prevails leading to peace. And lastly, both have standards of living, health, cleanliness, and comfort that increase rapidly and continuously. After listing these qualities, Lane writes, “Saracens created that kind of civilization. Americans are creating that kind of civilization.”
Conservative Americans might protest at the idea of America being compared to the Golden Age of Islam. Still, Rose Wilder Lane understood this was not an insult but a great compliment. It is saddening that today Islam, under the influence of a small yet concentrated cadre of extremists, is in dire need of reform. The narrative we often hear labels Islam as barbarous, backward or uncivilized is incorrect. But worse yet, it will only push the disaffected further into extremist margins.