Thoughts Following 9/11


Political Index

1-13-2002:  I always hate myself when I write windy disquisitions like the one below. In the first place, unlike scientific or mathematical terms, the words we use in these kinds of discussions, are vaguely defined. Precisely what does "hedonism" mean? Is it climbing a mountain? Is it watching TV? Is it drinking in a cheap waterfront bar? Is it swallowing live goldfish out of a slipper? Is it partying 24 hours a day? Precisely what are "extremists"? What are "Western values or the perceived lack thereof"? Do I have "Western values or the perceived lack thereof"? Do you? What fractions of what "Western" populations have what values at what times? Is Japan a Western nation for the purposes of such a discussion? Is Greece? Turkey? Cuba? South Africa? Liberia? Unfortunately, political "science", at least as practiced by politicians, and particularly, as bandied about by armchair politicians like me, is anything but a science. So the precise definitions of terms would seem to be a prerequisite to a productive discussion.
    I'm grateful to the author (Salman Kureshi) for having elucidated his perceptions of the feelings of other Muslims. I'm shocked by the message, but I appreciate the messenger.
    Perhaps the most compelling reason for avoiding politics is that it's such a waste of time. Nothing I say is likely to change the course of history.