The problem is not so much that the ruling elites do not have enough factual information about the various world religions, though that is a glaring deficiency in their educations and a problem in itself; it is more that the ruling elites have imbibed certain 19th century Marxist ideas and have long-since forgotten the origin of these ideas. They actually have no idea that their materialist philosophy of history or their jaundiced view of capitalism or their conception of religion as infantile and constricting is actually just a parroting of a discredited economist and Christian heretic named Karl Marx.
Robert Sibley offers a good example of this phenomenon in his recent Ottawa Citizen column entitled: "The 'root cause' of Islamism, or waking the West from its multicultural slumber."
During the last decade of Islamist terrorism, numerous commentators, particularly those on the left, have adopted a materialist approach to explain why some Muslims want to slaughter guests at hotels in Mumbai or detonate bombs at Christmas festivals in Sweden.
Terrorism, they argue, is rooted in poverty, frustration over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and memories of western imperialism. In other words, so the argument goes, the West itself is to blame for terrorism. If only the West would apologize, make reparations, abandon Israel, leave the Middle East and Afghanistan, all would be well. Or at least that’s where the root-cause crowd’s assumptions logically lead.
Read it all here.
The main problem here is the Marxist philosophy of history, which knows ahead of time that the "real" cause of historical events is material and economic conditions. This means that it is poverty combined with envy of the material riches of the West that actually is the root of Islamic terror. No historical research is needed except to assemble facts in support of what we already know. The terrorists cannot be motivated by religion. That is impossible because anyone who blows up a plane because of religious convictions is by definition insane. Since insanity has nothing to do with rational political ideologies, there can be no connection between the two. So blaming the "religion of peace" whose name means "submission" is simply wrong.
As long as Western intellectuals allow unexamined, out-of-date Marxist presuppositions about history, economics and religion to guide their thought about Islamism they will never understand what we are up against. Never.