I watched a DVD of a PBS one-hour special called “The Road to 9/11” a few weeks ago. (This is a film by Kunhardt Productions). This documentary is not the more controversial story of 9/11 that the Clintons opposed so strongly, which aired several months ago. (That one was produced by the Disney Company, so I believe.) This “Road to 9/11” film was produced in 2005 for PBS Home Video. It is a documentary that features the sane and clear voices of Bernard Lewis, Fareed Zakaria, and Thomas Friedman. Quite frankly Bernard Lewis is worth the whole hour I invested. This man is balanced, fair-minded, and in no way anti-Muslim. He was a professor at Princeton University for many years and is the author of a dozen or more books on the Middle East and Islam. Anyone who purports to seriously deal with Islam in the modern world must read Lewis!
Whenever I am pulled toward strong feelings against Islam it is Bernard Lewis who helps me to remain calm and reasoned. He clearly underscores the very real dangers of radical Islam, dangers denied by many older liberals and young emergent sorts who seem to have no particular political philosophy other than that they oppose the war in Iraq as immoral. Bernard Lewis also shows that there was once a great Islamic culture but it was hijacked by the forces of modernity, beginning with the Third Reich’s influence in the Middle East in the 1930s. After the Reich fell these nations, carved up following World War I by the Europeans, were hijacked by Soviet Russia in most instances. (The Baathist Party of Saddam Hussein employed Stalinist ideology to gain and abuse power. This is a simple fact.) And no one should forget that the most noble attempt at modernization, undertaken in Turkey, is now threatened as well.
Make no mistake about this—radical Islam is a very real danger to us, our values, and our culture. But there is a great deal of bad thinking about what radical Islam really is and what it will attempt to do next. There may be even worse thinking about how to properly respond to it given our preoccupation with Iraq alone. Respond to it we must if we value our civilization at all. I encourage the viewing of this documentary for all of those who want to learn more. I got it from my public library as a loaner and feel sure you could too. Most libraries will order it if they do not presently carry in on their shelves.