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- 13 01 2003 - 00:14 - katatonik

September, November, Islam

“California Monthly, the alumni magazine for the University of California at Berkeley, published in its November 2002 issue an interview with a member of the university’s political science faculty, Steven Weber, who is the director of the MacArthur Program on Multilateral Governance at Berkeley’s Institute of International Studies and a consultant on risk analysis to both the State Department and such private- sector firms as Shell Oil. It so happened that Mr. Weber was in New York on September 11, 2001, and for the week that followed. “I spent a lot of time talking to people, watching what they were doing, and listening to what they were saying to each other,” he told the interviewer:

“The first thing you noticed was in the bookstores. On September 12, the shelves were emptied of books on Islam, on American foreign policy, on Iraq, on Afghanistan. There was a substantive discussion about what it is about the nature of the American presence in the world that created a situation in which movements like al-Qaeda can thrive and prosper. I thought that was a very promising sign.

But that discussion got short-circuited. Sometime in late October, early November 2001, the tone of that discussion switched, and it became: What’s wrong with the Islamic world that it failed to produce democracy, science, education, its own enlightenment, and created societies that breed terror?”


The interviewer asked him what he thought had changed the discussion. “I don’t know,” he said, “but I will say that it’s a long-term failure of the political leadership, the intelligentsia, and the media in this country that we didn’t take the discussion that was forming in late September and try to move it forward in a constructive way.”“

Joan, Didion: “Fixed Opinions, or The Hinge of History”. Recommended.

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