A point that’s possibly worth reiterating:
The Islamic world has ample reasons for legitimate criticism. Anti-Semitism, sexism, lack of democracy, lack of opportunity, nurturing of terrorism… these are sad realities, not the hallucinations of right-wingers. Anger and criticism are appropriate, but our approach has to start with the assumption that Muslims are not going away. Short of deliberate genocide, there’s no way forward in the long run except for “hearts and minds.”
There is much, much more to say about this. Luckily, an organization called Americans for Informed Democracy is taking a few steps in this direction. They’re putting on a series of thirty events in September and October on the subject of US-Islamic world relations.
The series will finish on October 12 with six “Face to Face” videoconference dialogues between young leaders at six universities in the U.S. and six in the Muslim world, including in Egypt, Indonesia, Lebanon, Morocco, Pakistan, and Turkey.
The series is intended to commemorate the three-year anniversary of the September 11 attacks with a call to action out of the ashes of tragedy. As you know, the recently released report by the 9/11 Commission stressed that the U.S. must “act aggressively to define itself in the Islamic world” and to share America’s “vision of opportunity and hope.” We hope that our efforts can help to build understanding between non-Muslims and Muslims in the U.S. and then to extend that understanding to the relationship between the U.S. and the Muslim world.
No one initiative like this will change history. But what other option is there, really?