ALMOST IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING the attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., pundits, politicians, and preachers through- out the United States and Europe declared that September 11, 2001, triggered a once-dormant “clash of civilizations,” to use Samuel Huntington’s now ubiquitous term, between the modern, enlightened, democratic societies of the West and the archaic, barbarous, autocratic societies of the Middle East. A few well-respected academics carried this argument further by suggesting that the failure of democracy to emerge in the Muslim world was due in large part to Muslim culture, which they claimed was intrinsically incompatible with Enlightenment values such as liberalism, pluralism, individualism, and human rights. It was therefore simply a matter of time before these two great civilizations, which have such conflicting ideologies, clashed with each other in some catastrophic way. And what better example do we need of this inevitability than September 11?
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