Alaa Al Aswany on a Clash of Civilizations
al Aswany: I must tell you that it is not totally innocent in the sense that it is for the interest of some people in power in the West and in the Arab world to keep this conflict on, you see? I don’t see, if you’re talking, if we think about the term clash of the civilization, it is terrible because it doesn’t make sense because it was, we had never in history a clash of civilization. Why? Because if you are civilized, you are tolerant, and if you are not tolerant, you are not civilized. There was never a clash between civilization. The clash was between kingdoms and empires to control more money and power, and that’s exactly what is still happening, you see? I believe that it is the question of knowledge. We must get closer to each other. We must know that we could be different in many aspects but we are human beings. We must know that nobody has the right to think that we are the good guys and you are the bad guys. This is not true. If you’re talking about the Arab world, the Arab world has been suffering from terrorists as much as the West, you see. Osama bin Laden is not talking in my name, and Osama bin Laden is not talking in the name of millions of Arabs, most of the Arab world. The vast majority of the Arab world see Osama bin Laden as a criminal and terrorist, you see? And, also, I don’t think that George Bush, to me, has the right to present the West, you see? To me, George Bush is not presenting the West. I would say Ernest Hemingway is presenting the West and not George Bush. George Bush is presenting the [machination] of corporations, you see. And this is very important, to have the right vision of the world, you see, to get closer and to see that people are people everywhere and the conflict is not between civilizations. The conflict is between the people who would like to make more money. They don’t care about the human values and the ordinary people. I see the world divided into two sides, in the human side and the non human side. On the human side, most of the people are on the human side. In the West, in the Arab world, in India, in China, I mean, they are ordinary people who would like to work very hard to get better education for their children, you see, and to have a free world and a life with much respect in human rights, and you have the non human side where the imperialistic people like Mr. George Bush and Dick Chaney were presenting the [machination] of corporations. They are on that non human side. The terrorists like Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda and these other people, [our] Arab dictators and dictators all over the world are on the non human side, and I believe that this is the real conflict, you see, and it’s not the conflict between ethnic groups.
If we just understood that we are all human beings first and foremost, we would not be witnessing many of the struggles we are seeing today.
Swiss researchers identify new dangers of modern cocaine.
- Cocaine cut with anti-worming adulterant levamisole may cause brain damage.
- Levamisole can thin out the prefrontal cortex and affect cognitive skills.
- Government health programs should encourage testing of cocaine for purity.
Civil discourse has fallen to an all time low.
The question that the American populace needs to ask itself now is: how do we fix it?
Discursive fundamentals need to be taught to preserve free expression
In their findings the authors state:
upholding First Amendment ideals.
Talking politics at Thanksgiving dinner
- Progressive Activists: younger, highly engaged, secular, cosmopolitan, angry.
- Traditional Liberals: older, retired, open to compromise, rational, cautious.
- Passive Liberals: unhappy, insecure, distrustful, disillusioned.
- Politically Disengaged: young, low income, distrustful, detached, patriotic, conspiratorial
- Moderates: engaged, civic-minded, middle-of-the-road, pessimistic, Protestant.
- Traditional Conservatives: religious, middle class, patriotic, moralistic.
- Devoted Conservatives: white, retired, highly engaged, uncompromising,
It's interesting to note the authors found that:
"Tribe membership shows strong reliability in predicting views across different political topics."
Here are some statistics on differing viewpoints according to political party:
- 51% of staunch liberals say it's "morally acceptable" to punch Nazis.
- 53% of Republicans favor stripping U.S. citizenship from people who burn the American flag.
- 65% of Republicans say NFL players should be fired if they refuse to stand for the anthem.
- 58% of Democrats say employers should punish employees for offensive Facebook posts.
- 47% of Republicans favor bans on building new mosques.
Here are some guidelines for civic discourse that might come in handy:
- Practice inclusion and listen to who you're speaking to.
Civic discourse in the divisive age
dangerously tribal, fueled by a culture of outrage and taking offense. For the combatants,
the other side can no longer be tolerated, and no price is too high to defeat them.
These tensions are poisoning personal relationships, consuming our politics and
putting our democracy in peril.
Once a country has become tribalized, debates about contested issues from
immigration and trade to economic management, climate change and national security,
become shaped by larger tribal identities. Policy debate gives way to tribal conflicts.
Polarization and tribalism are self-reinforcing and will likely continue to accelerate.
The work of rebuilding our fragmented society needs to start now. It extends from
re-connecting people across the lines of division in local communities all the way to
building a renewed sense of national identity: a bigger story of us."
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