Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Clash of Civilizations? In an op-ed piece in the WSJ on Tuesday, George Melloan considers a speech that Douglas J. Feith, the US undersecretary of defense for policy, gave to a Heritage Foundation audience in November. That speech offered the "Bush view" of the idea that we are involved in a "clash of civilizations", with the Muslim world on one side and the Judeo-Christian West on the other.

The Bush view is that the battle of ideas in the global war on terrorism is largely a "fight within the world of Islam, between the extremists and people in the Muslim world who oppose them." Feith said that "We [the US in its current foreign policy] look at ourselves as being allied with millions of Muslims-who we believe are a clear, overwhelming majority-who do not want to come under the rule of fanatics and extremists." I think that's a helpful and healthy idea. It tends to reign in any impulses I have as a Christian to paint all Muslim people as the enemy or as a people incapable of being reasonable participants in a free political economy.

Recently, I became acquainted with a young man who graduated from the University of Chicago Law School, had moved to Miami to follow his girl friend, and was looking for a job. He comes from a Muslim family in Buffalo. What a fine young man! How I wish I could have found a place for him in the firm!

We started an email dialog via email, had a meeting here at the firm, and we have continued our dialog via email as he continued his job search. I contacted a number of people in other firms who might have a position. He kept looking and we kept talking via email. He finally got a job in a top firm, as I thought he would. He certainly is an example of a Muslim who is a credit to this country. The Bush administration seems to think there are a lot like this young man and his family around the world. Do we have any choice but to proceed on that idea?

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