Alan Dershowitz
Professor, Harvard Law School
01:10

What is America's greatest challenge?

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The volatile mix of poverty and fundamentalism.

Alan Dershowitz

Alan Dershowitz is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at the Harvard Law School. In addition to his teaching, Dershowitz is a prolific author who makes frequent media and public appearances, and who is known for his commentary on the Arab-Israeli conflict as well as his work on numerous high-profile cases. As a criminal appellate lawyer, Dershowitz successfully argued to overturn the conviction of Claus von Bulow for the attempted murder of his wife, Sunny. He also served as the appellate advisor in the criminal trial of O.J. Simpson.

Dershowitz joined the faculty of Harvard Law School as an assistant professor of law in 1964. He was made a full professor of law in 1967, at the age of 28, becoming, at that time, Harvard's youngest full law professor in the school's history. Dershowitz is also the author of more than 20 works of fiction and non-fiction, including Blasphemy: How the Religious Right is Hijacking the Declaration of Independence (2007), The Case for Israel (2003), the bestseller Chutzpah (1991), and Reversal of Fortune (1986), which was made into an Academy Award-winning film. More than a million of his books have been sold worldwide and in numerous languages.

Dershowitz joined the faculty of Harvard Law School as an assistant professor of law in 1964. He was made a full professor of law in 1967, at the age of 28, becoming, at that time, Harvard's youngest full law professor in the school's history. Dershowitz is also the author of more than 20 works of fiction and non-fiction, including Blasphemy: How the Religious Right is Hijacking the Declaration of Independence (2007), The Case for Israel (2003), the bestseller Chutzpah (1991), and Reversal of Fortune (1986), which was made into an Academy Award-winning film. More than a million of his books have been sold worldwide and in numerous languages.

Transcript

Question: What is America's greatest challenge? 

Alan Dershowitz: I think fundamentalism born of poverty is one of the great challenges that the United States faces.

Look, the United States has its own problem of fundamentalism. We are the most religious western nation in the world. More Americans believe that there are angels hovering above them than believe in evolution.

The difference is our fundamentalists generally are happy with their lives. And our fundamentalism also eschews and makes a sin out of suicide. So we don’t have a lot of suicide bombers in the United States growing out of fundamentalist movements.

But if you combine a life of misery and poverty – often inflicted by their religious leaders themselves with a promise of paradise and a claim that suicide is in the interest of religion – then you’ve got a combination that's awfully hard for western society to combat.

 

Recorded On: June 12, 2007


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