1968 was a magic year for the Western world.
The Baby Boom - a massive post-war increase in the number of young people - was drawing to a close and most Western societies were trying to digest the glut of young people. The economic markets strained to absorb the first Boomers as they completed their college careers and entered the job market. It was a tumultuous time.
As many may recall, that was the year of the youth riot.
Throughout the Western world, from Japan to the United States to France, Germany and Poland, youth everywhere were simmering with anger. The reasons in each situation were different, but the result was the same: frenzied explosions of violence across the globe as youth clashed with police against the perceived wrongs (whether real or imagined) dealt to them by those in authority.
The rioting in the United States grew so bad that outgoing President Lyndon Baines Johnson thoughtfully left a pile of unsigned declarations of martial law on his desk for various American cities - all that incoming President Richard Nixon need do was sign them to give them the force of law.
Today, the Muslim world seems to be facing the very same situation.
As Pew Forums illustrate, and just as had happened with the Western Baby Boom in 1968, the percentage of Muslim youth peaked a few years ago (2000) and is beginning to decline. The great mass of Muslim Boomers are of age, and are trying to assimilate themselves into society. And, as was the case in 1968, the youth in Muslim countries perceive their various countries as having created legitimate offenses against them.
The percentage of the population under 30 in most predominantly Muslim countries is enormous - in Pakistan, it is upwards of 70% of the population. As I have noted elsewhere, older populations tend not to riot if only because it takes too much energy. When a 70-year old throws a Molotov cocktail, it's generally hard to hobble away fast enough to make the protest effective. For a 17-year old, the problem is not nearly so difficult.
Youth are inherently violent. They have enormous energy and a very shallow grasp on how to harness that energy. Earlier ages harnessed the youth via the apprenticeship system, putting those between 12 and 20 to work under adult tutelage. Thus, though they had large populations of youth, the young were contributing members of society under close adult supervision. The young were useful, they knew it, and they had a stake in the social order.
Modern society threw away the ancient model. Now, we put the youth together in massive cauldrons, where they do no useful work for society. They not only feel useless, they feed on each others' discontent.
Within roughly the last year, we have seen riots break out in Iran, Tunisia and now Egypt.
Muslim leaders have long explicitly said they intend to take over Europe with the womb, not the gun. But as we now can see, that plan has it's own little difficulties.
If Muslim leaders can keep the youth focused outward, focused on exhibiting rage towards non-Muslims, then the men who run the mosques can breathe easy. The exuberance of youth will go far towards forcing the West into accepting Muslim demands, so that the West either converts to Islam or becomes the dhimmis Allah created them to be. That is the plan, anyway.
But what if those men can't keep the youth focused on anger with non-Muslims?
What if Muslim youth not only feel oppressed by their elders, but start to feel a certain kinship with the oppressed Christian minority?
What if the natural exuberance of youth couples with their natural love for fairness, justice and love for the oppressed?
Then the men in the mosques will be faced with Muslims who protect their oppressed fellows with their own bodies, Muslims who riot against the men in the mosques. That is not the result Muslim leaders hope for.
The Baby Boomers and their riots fundamentally changed the nature of Western society. What Western culture permits today was never even imagined in 1965.
The Muslim Boomers are rioting now.
Both the hard-line, orthodox Muslim clerics and the leaders of the West ask the same questions:
Who will lead the rioters?
Where will the Muslim youth take Muslim society?
These are hard questions.
No one has the answers.