This article was written for the Washington Post. It is on their website now and will be in Sunday’s print edition. In writing the piece, I simply tried to point out the advantages that al-Qaeda and its allies will derive — or at least seek to exploit — from the ongoing unrest in the Arab world, and to use their documents and statements over the past 15 years to see how current events mesh or do not mesh with their goals.
The responses so far — mostly personal abuse, long Post readers’ substitute for thought — seem to miss the point that facts are facts, and that hope, optimism, and a quixotic (zany?) belief in the ease of installing democracy where church and state are one in the minds of most people may not suffice to win the day for democracy. Perhaps future comments will address the issues at hand, but those received so far — along with media’s consensus that al-Qaeda and its allies are finished — reinforce my belief that America’s troubles in the world are in large measure the fault of an intellectually bankrupt and ideologically driven educational system, especially in the areas of history and religion, as well as the near complete absence of the common-sense knowledge that human nature never, ever changes. Perhaps the teachers’ unions and the federal Department of Education really do need to be broken up, and responsibility for education be returned the lowest possible level of government.