All religions have fanatics; and good points. The difference as I see it is that while Christianity has somewhat moved into a new paradigm and modernity recently--Islam in the Middle East has largely not. This coupled with the friction always existing between "western" Europe and the Islamic east (since ancient times) has served to escalate the issue. Bush and the neo-cons trying to give religious credence to this hasn't helped either!
Part of the issue is we need to get off our high horses and remember our history, even in this country--let alone that of Christianity--has not been as noble and progressive as some are arguing.
That DOES NOT mean western civilization is not the most advanced (in some areas) up to this point--I for one would rather live ANYWHERE in the western world than in the Middle East. But it CANNOT mean that we ignore the contributions they have made and their potential to make more.
Americans are somewhat blindsided by our relative youth. Iran traces its civilization back to Persia (as you all know); but imagine how that must feel. Look at how we react to the surge of India or China or the resurgence of Russia. Just because Iran has been largely third world in our lifetime; doesn't mean that the people there don't know there own history and know that before our "founding fathers" even set foot on this continent--their civilization had invented many of the discoveries we take for granted today.
Is Islamic extremism wrong--ABSOLUTELY--should the Arab leaders/nations do more to help their people and openly condemn Islamic Extremism--ABSOLUTELY But it is also healthy for us to humble out a bit--put down the flag and cross and realize we are not exactly innocent and also look at how our best intentions might be misunderstood or miscommunicated to the Arab/Islamic audience.