David Frum and the Clash of Civilizations

Question: Is there really a clash of civilizations?

David Frum: That's a complicated question. I don't know that I'd ever use that particular phrase.  I have trouble with the phrase.

I think so much of the inspiration for Islamic terror actually derives from western civilization. The terrorists, the people in al Qaeda are reading as much Franz Phenault, as much Lenin, as they are reading the Koran.

At the same time, it's also true that you inherit from traditional Islamic sources a lot of scriptures that can be cited as proof texts in favor of violence. But mostly I disapprove of the phrase because it blinds us to the reality that the greatest heroes of this transition, the bravest advocates of change and tolerance and liberalism and democracy, are going to come from inside the Islamic world. And any good transition that happens there is going to be the work of these brave souls. And they are going to be the true heroes of this epic struggle for this portion of humanity that affects us.

And so I think when you look out at the world, you should be at least as keen to look for friends as you are to monitor for dangers.


Recorded on: May 5 2008




It is complicated and mostly Frum disapproves.