Edited transcript of the Eidelberg Report, Israel National Radio, January 8, 2007.
This essay takes its title and basic ideas from Lee Harris’ book, Civilization and Its Enemies (Free Press 2004). Harris has been dubbed the philosopher of 9/11. As I read it, Civilization and Its Enemies is one the most important books published since the end of World War II, and unless we heed its warnings, we may lose World War III.
Harris reminds us that civilized people forget how much work it took not to kill one’s neighbors, “simply because this work was all done by our ancestors so that it could be willed to us as an heirloom.” Civilized people forget “that there has ever been a category of human experience called the enemy…. The enemy is someone who is willing to die in order to kill you. And while it is true that the enemy always hates us for a reason, it is his reason and not ours. He does not hate us for our faults any more than for our virtues. He sees a different world from ours, and in the world he sees, we are the enemy.”
The 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center was only superficially motivated by Islamic hatred of American wealth and power. » Continue reading “Civilization and Its Enemies”