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When reading the headlines of this blood-splattered world, I often wonder what the planet would be like today had Islam never been invented. I’m sure you’ve wondered the same.

Of course, there will always be a tendency for us to romanticise the world we imagine; to give it bright green fields, blonde maidens milking cows, world peace etc…. I’m not going to allege this would be the reality, because it clearly wouldn’t be.

Instead, I am going to argue that what the modern world would be like without Islam is (more or less) the contemporary United States.

Given its demographic, cultural, religious and climatic diversity, America is often identified as being more a world than a country. Within it, Asians live alongside Africans, Whites live alongside Jews, Amerindians alongside Hispanics, Hindus alongside Buddhists, atheists alongside believers, …

The one culture that is barely represented at the national level is Islam. Sure, there are Muslims, but very few. To pursue our thought experiment, let’s pretend that smattering of Pakistanis, Arabs and Iranians don’t exist. It isn’t difficult; all we have to do is subtract from our imagination a few boroughs and townships. What remains is the world we seek to imagine.

What is it like?

Well, it’s not a utopia, that’s for sure. Whites and non-Whites occasionally provoke each other. Phrases like Spic, Nigger and Cracker linger on the margins of the national vocabulary. Jews are either resented or admired. Indians are made fun of for their accents. Racial injustices (real or perceived) occur every so often, and are later resolved by battles fought in a uniquely gladiatorial media.

But more or less (or so I would argue), this world works. There are no problems that require deportations, civil wars, terror attacks, or military interventions. The rivalries that do exist are trifling and stupid. Many racial squabbles have even become part of the national character. Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Al Sharpton and others are hated by millions, but they are easily tolerable. The divisions they incite are more Punch and Judy than Israel and Palestine.

So it is with the world at large. Europe has no military quarrel with Sub-Saharan Africa (beyond the Islamic parts). Asians have no hostile designs on Latin America. Japan doesn’t desire a holy war to wipe out Russian infidels. India and China, border squabbles aside, can do business in a civilised and friendly way. It requires no cultural contradiction for Europeans to enjoy Japanese Anime, African-American Hip-hop, Indian cuisine or Russian folk. Nor does it for Serbians to attend salsa lessons or Italians to dream of Caribbean sands.

The same rough harmony demonstrated within America is repeated in the world at large.

I hope you find, as I do, this thought immensely sad. If only the American world was the world. If only Al Sharpton was the worst thing the third world threw up, and that Bin Laden was just a bad dream.

Alas, the real world remains scarred with more lethal divisions and this can only be laid at the door of Islam. Every other culture can get along in peace if they try. The evidence is across the Atlantic.