If 9/11 was indeed the onset of World War III, we have to understand what this war is about. We’re not fighting to eradicate “terrorism.” Terrorism is just a tool. We’re fighting to defeat an ideology: religious totalitarianism. World War II and the cold war were fought to defeat secular totalitarianism ó Nazism and Communism ó and World War III is a battle against religious totalitarianism, a view of the world that my faith must reign supreme and can be affirmed and held passionately only if all others are negated. That’s bin Ladenism. But unlike Nazism, religious totalitarianism can’t be fought by armies alone. It has to be fought in schools, mosques, churches and synagogues, and can be defeated only with the help of imams, rabbis and priests….
The future of the world may well be decided by how we fight this war. Can Islam, Christianity and Judaism know that God speaks Arabic on Fridays, Hebrew on Saturdays and Latin on Sundays, and that he welcomes different human beings approaching him through their own history, out of their language and cultural heritage?…
We patronize Islam, and mislead ourselves, by repeating the mantra that Islam is a faith with no serious problems accepting the secular West, modernity and pluralism, and the only problem is a few bin Ladens. Although there is a deep moral impulse in Islam for justice, charity and compassion, Islam has not developed a dominant religious philosophy that allows equal recognition of alternative faith communities.
- I don’t intend to go off on a religious bent but here’s another question: Is 9/11 leading to more religious seeking or not? The NY Times said the other day that worship attendance is returning to its pre-9/11 norm, quoting random clergy and the editor of the Gallup poll, and a research firm that tracks “13 key measures of religiosity.” On the other hand, we have the random clergy quoted below saying attendance — and talk of religion — are up. Today, the NY Post reports that Warner Music is thanking the heavens that it bought a religious music label because it’s going gangbusters after 9/11; mainstream music is off 2 percent but religious music is up 11 percent. Bottom line: It will take time to tell what if any impact the terror and fear and sorrow and confusion of 9/11 will have on our collective spiritual life. Religion (as opposed to one-time worship attendance) is not an impulse buy, a sudden hunger for a chocolate; it’s more like a vitamin deficiency (I know I’m getting a cold when I crave a second glass of orange juice); it’s subtle.
- British conservatives join with American conservatives to push for an attack on Iraq.
- The value of real reporting: I’ve been meaning to mention something for a few days, since Bjoern Staerk gave thanks for weblogs: “Some of my optimism for the future comes from knowing that, from this year on, every major conflict involving a nation connected to the web will have tens, or houndreds, or thousands of warblogs, covering it from left, right, inside, outside, ahead and behind. I don’t like to boast, but I’m a bit proud of this: They tore down the World Trade Center, and we responded by creating something new. They attacked us with ignorance, we replied with curiosity and informed criticism.”
I don’t disagree — and I’ve written my own odes to blogdom (see This Wonderful Web). But what I’ve been meaning to add is that it’s very important for our society of bloggers to remember that while we try to add perspective to the news, we would have nothing to say if there were not real reporters and photographers out there bringing in the real news — and risking their lives in Afghanistan to do it. I’m moved to say this because a Swedish journalist’s death brings the toll to eight. The media suffer many attacks — willingly; comes with the turf — but we all and especially we on the Web need to be grateful for the courage of the reporters who fill ouf free press and free Internet with the news.
- Amazing efforts to save that Swedish journalist via satellite phone: “Cradling the wounded cameraman in his lap, Bo Liden frantically telephoned his wife, a doctor, to ask her for advice on how to save his friendís life… She put them in touch with a cardiologist in Helsingborg who calmly explained to the journalists how to rip down curtains to make a compress to stem the bleeding and give cardiac massage.” He died en route to the hospital.
- I went to the Here Is New York gallery — filled with donated photos of 9/11 — and picked up my first prints, images to remember. I can’t recommend the gallery highly enough.
- Chomsky compers have at him: He wins an award from Dawn in Islamabad, presented by the director of the “Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation” (insert punchline here). This after he gives a lecture and “accused the United States and Britain of being above the international law and using ‘unlawful force’ in their so-called fight against terrorism.” More: “Chomsky says US couldn’t convict Bin Laden.” Enjoy.
- Ken Layne has surely given himself a good case of carpel tunnel syndrome these last 48 hours; lots of good posts.
- 9/11 baby boom coming: “While the trend may be strongest in New York, doctors say people nationwide seem to be shunning talk of a world gone wrong and pursuing pregnancy not just in spite of, but because of, the Sept. 11 attacks. ‘It’s the ‘carpe diem’ mode,’ says Dr. Michael Silverstein, an obstetrician and gynecologist at NYU Medical Center in Manhattan. ‘They’re saying, ‘Life’s too short — who knows what’s down the road.’ ”
- Investigators look at chemical samples, other evidence from 40 sites in Afghanistan to look for proof that bin Laden was building weapons of mass destruction.
- The Times says Michigan is “inviting” Middle Eastern men to come in for interviews. This alleged racial profiling “controversy” about the “racial profiling” of Middle Eastern men has gone too far. There is nothing wrong with law enforcement talking to Middle Eastern men and they don’t need to be “invited.” If a neighbor of yours is murdered, it would be wrong — illegal, immoral — for you to refuse to talk to the police, to whine that it’s not your fault you happen to live next to a victim and why should they bother you afterall. It’s your duty as a citizen in a civilized world to help the police and talk to them whether or not you know anything. Well, 4,000 of our neighbors have been murdered and I want to cops to find the murderers. So they should be talking to Middle Eastern men who may have been the object of recruitment by bin Laden et al and who may have known something relevant — or may not. What’s the harm in talking to the police? Is it racial profiling to ask Middle Eastern men these questions? No. It’s police work. Obvious police work. This is political correctness gone stupid.
- Worse idiocy from out West.