Transcript: Mahmood Mamdani on Good Muslim, Bad Muslim | Mar 11, 2006

Mahmood Mamdani stands behind a lectern in a dimly-lit auditorium. He's in his late forties, clean-shaven, with short curly gray hair. He's wearing rounded glasses, a black suit and a white shirt.

He says WE LIVE IN
DIFFICULT TIMES.
NOT SO LONG AGO...
WHEN THE BERLIN WALL CAME
DOWN...
SOLEDAD NOSCHKOGOK WALKED FREE
IN THE STREETS OF POLAND, AND
THE PROUD SPRING...
SEEMED TO BLOSSOM.
THERE WAS HOPE IN THE AIR.
THE COLD WAR HAD ENDED.
AND MANY THOUGHT THERE WOULD BE
A PEACE DIVIDEND AROUND THE
CORNER.
IT TOOK BUT A SHORT TIME FOR
THESE HOPES TO FADE.
WE'RE NOW FACED WITH...
PROBLEMS AS MULTIPLE AS THEY ARE
COMPLEX.
POVERTY, WITHIN NATIONS.
BETWEEN NATIONS.
DEEPENING.
WHICH MANY THINK IS THE
UNDERBELLY OF GLOBALIZATION.
AN ENVIRONMENTAL CRISIS AND A
GLOBAL WARMING.
WHICH MAY HAVE REACHED THE POINT
OF TIPPING INTO...
A DOWNWARD CYCLE.
AND YET, THE GREATEST POLLUTERS
ON EARTH REFUSE TO SIGN THE
KYOTO AGREEMENT.
THE PROLIFERATION OF WEAPONS,
NUCLEAR, BIOLOGICAL, CHEMICAL.

A caption appears on screen. It reads "Mahmood Mamdani. Columbia University. 'Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: America, the Cold War, and the roots of terror.' Toronto. November 17, 2005."

Mahmood continues THERE SEEMS
TO BE NO END IN SIGHT.
A NEW GENERATION OF WEAPONS IS
AROUND THE CORNER.
A STATE OF ILLEGALITY, WHEREBY
THE LARGEST POWER IN THE WORLD
REFUSES TO SIGN AN AGREEMENT
WHICH WOULD HOLD STATES...
TO LEGAL CONDUCT.
WAR...
WHICH SEEMS TO BE NOT JUST A
MILITARY PHENOMENON, BUT IS
RAPIDLY TURNED INTO AN ASSAULT
ON THE ENEMY'S ECONOMY.
AND NOW IT'S PEOPLE.
WHERE THE LINES BETWEEN
COMBATANTS AND CIVILIANS ARE
BLURRED.
ALL OF THESE ARE RESULTS OF
SPECIFIC POLICIES.
AND YET, WE'RE TOLD, IN THE
MIDST OF ALL THIS, THAT ALL OF
THESE DEVELOPMENTS HAVE A SINGLE
ROOT CAUSE:
ISLAM VERSUS THE WEST.
OR, PUT MORE SIMPLY, ISLAMIC
THREAT TO WESTERN CIVILIZATION.
IT'S REMINISCENT OF THE COLD
WAR.
IF YOU REMEMBER, DURING THE COLD
WAR, EVERY SPECIFIC PROBLEM, NO
MATTER HOW LOCAL, WAS SAID TO BE
OF WORLD HISTORICAL
SIGNIFICANCE.
WE LIVED IN AN AGE OF IDEOLOGY,
WHEREBY EVERYTHING WAS
MAGNIFIED INTO SOMETHING GLOBAL.
WHETHER IT WAS AN ELECTION IN
CHILE...
A NATIONAL REVOLUTION IN CUBA...
ANOTHER NATIONAL LIBERATION
MOVEMENT IN VIET NAM...
DE-COLONIZATION IN AFRICA...
EVERYTHING, IT WAS SAID, WAS A
MANIFESTATION OF A SINGLE
STRUGGLE:
COMMUNISM AND ANTI-COMMUNISM.
TODAY WE ARE FACED WITH TERROR
AND COUNTER TERROR.
WHERE EACH MIMICS THE OTHER.
THROUGH SUCCESSIVE CYCLES OF
SHOCK AND AWE.
THE WAR ON TERROR IS A POWERFUL
MOBILIZATION.
NOT JUST MILITARY.
POLITICAL, ECONOMIC, AND ABOVE
ALL, INTELLECTUAL.
THE INTELLECTUAL COMPLIMENT OF
THE WAR ON TERROR IS CALLED A
CLASS OF CIVILIZATIONS.
THIS IS A WAR-TIME IDEOLOGY.
IT'S AN IDEOLOGY MEANT TO CLEAR
THE MIDDLE GROUND.
TO DIVIDE THE WORLD BETWEEN
FRIENDS AND ENEMIES.
IT'S HIGH TIME...
THAT WE ORDINARY PEOPLE, WHO
HAVE MUCH TO LOSE, THINK OF A
COUNTER MOBILIZATION.
A COUNTER MOBILIZATION WHICH IS,
ABOVE ALL, INTELLECTUAL.
WHICH PROVIDES A DIFFERENT
EXPLANATION OF THE WORLD WE
LIVE IN.
AND THE EVENTS WE FACE.
IT'S TIME FOR A POLICY OF
CONTAINMENT.
OF THE LARGEST POWER IN THE
WORLD.
BY PEOPLES ACROSS THE WORLD.
I WANT TO TALK ABOUT POLITICAL
VIOLENCE TODAY.
I CAN'T TALK ABOUT ALL THE
ISSUES.
THEY MAY BE CONNECTED, BUT THEY
DON'T SPRING FROM A SINGLE
CAUSE.
BUT I WANT TO TALK ABOUT
POLITICAL VIOLENCE.
BUT I WANT TO REVERSE...
THE LINE OF REASONING.
I WILL BEGIN WITH...
WHAT IS KNOWN AS ISLAMIST
VIOLENCE.
BUT THEN I WILL LOCATE IT...
WITHIN THE LARGER CONTEXT OF
VIOLENCE.
AND I WILL TRY AND LOCATE THAT
TOO IN A HISTORICAL CONTEXT.
SO THAT WE DON'T END UP
ISOLATING CERTAIN PHENOMENA
FROM THE HISTORY AND THE WORLD
OF WHICH THEY ARE A PART.
AFTER 9-11...

He clears his throat and continues
I WAS IN NEW YORK CITY ON 9-11,
AND AFTER 9-11...
I WAS STRUCK BY REPORTS IN
AMERICAN NEWSPAPERS,
PARTICULARLY
THE NEW YORK
TIMES...
SAYING THAT
THE KORAN WAS BECOMING ONE OF
THE BEST SELLERS IN AMERICAN
BOOKSHOPS.
I REALIZED
THIS COULD ONLY BE...
BECAUSE THOSE BUYING COPIES OF
THE KORAN WERE EXPECTING TO
FIND IN IT A CLUE AS TO WHY...
THE HIJACKERS OF 9-11 STRUCK
THE TWIN TOWERS.
IN THE YEARS THAT FOLLOWED, WHEN
I WENT HOME, HOME IS UGANDA FOR
ME.
I WENT HOME.
THE US HAD ALREADY INVADED
AFGHANISTAN.
THE INVASION OF IRAQ WAS VERY
MUCH IN THE AIR.
AND I WENT TO BOOKSHOPS AND I
WONDERED IF PEOPLE WERE BUYING
COPIES OF THE BIBLE.
TO UNDERSTAND WHY THE US WAS
INVADING AFGHANISTAN, IRAQ.
ESPECIALLY SINCE THERE WAS MUCH
BIBLE TALK AMONGST LEADING
AMERICAN POLICY MAKERS.
EVEN THE SOCIAL AND INTELLECTUAL
ELITE.
AND IN SPITE OF GROWING ANXIETY
AND GROWING CONCERN, I REALIZED
THAT, OF COURSE, NOBODY WAS
TURNING TO THE BIBLE FOR AN
EXPLANATION OF CONTEMPORARY
POLITICS.
NO MATTER HOW MUCH THE BIBLE WAS
EVOKED BY THOSE PURSUING
THESE...
POLICIES.
SO I ASKED MYSELF WHY THE
DIFFERENCE?
WHY THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE
PUBLIC IN UGANDA AND THE PUBLIC
IN THE US?
AND I REALIZED THAT THE
DIFFERENCE HAD LITTLE TO DO WITH
THE DIFFERENT PUBLICS, AND MORE
TO DO WITH THE PUBLIC
INTELLECTUALS.
WHO SHAPED PUBLIC DISCOURSE.
I THOUGHT THE TURN TO THE KORAN
IN THE US FOR AN EXPLANATION OF
PARTICULAR KINDS OF TERROR...
IN THE 21st CENTURY, WAS A CLUE.
TO WHAT HAD HAPPENED.
TO AN IMPORTANT SECTION OF
PUBLIC INTELLECTUALS IN THE US.
SO I BEGAN TO FOLLOW THE PUBLIC
DEBATE A LITTLE MORE CLOSELY.
BECAUSE THERE WAS A DEBATE, IT
WASN'T JUST A CHORUS.
LEADING THE TWO SIDES OF THE
DEBATE WERE TWO WELL-KNOWN
INTELLECTUALS:
SAMUEL HUNTINGTON AND BERNARD
LEWIS.
HUNTINGTON USED TO BE A
PROFESSOR OF MINE WHEN I WAS A
GRADUATE STUDENT AT HARVARD.
BUT FOR SOME REASON, I CAUGHT
THE GERMS, BUT THEY TURNED OUT
TO BE ANTIDOTE.

(Audience laughter)

Mahmood continues YOU KNOW,
YOU GET CHICKENPOX TO...

He clears his throat and continues
SAVE YOU FROM SMALLPOX.
WELL, HUNTINGTON HAS THIS
WELL-KNOWN BOOK,
CLASS OF
CIVILIZATIONS.
IT'S A HOUSEHOLD WORK.
AMONGST THE READING PUBLIC.
AND THE THESIS WAS SIMPLE:
THE THESIS WAS...
THAT THE COLD WAR WAS A
PAROCHIAL AFFAIR.
THE COLD WAR WAS A CIVIL WAR IN
THE WEST.
THAT THE REAL WAR, THE TRULY
GLOBAL WAR, WAS NOW COMING.
AND THAT WOULD BE A WAR BETWEEN
CIVILIZATIONS.
"ISLAM'S BORDERS," WROTE
HUNTINGTON, "ARE BLOODY."
FROM THE HUNTINGTON POINT OF
VIEW, THERE IS NO SUCH PERSON AS
A GOOD MUSLIM.
ALL MUSLIMS WERE POTENTIALLY
BAD.
BERNARD LEWIS DISAGREED.
BERNARD LEWIS, THE ORIENTALIST,
AT PRINCETON.
THE AUTHOR OF
WHAT HAS GONE
WRONG WITH ISLAM?
DISAGREED.
HE SAID...
THAT NO, WE MUST UNDERSTAND.
THERE ARE GOOD MUSLIMS AND BAD
MUSLIMS.
AND OUR JOB IS TO IDENTIFY THE
GOOD MUSLIMS...
TO TRAIN THEM, TO ORGANIZE THEM,
TO RESOURCE THEM, AND TO UNLEASH
THEM AGAINST THE BAD MUSLIMS.
THAT THE ONLY WAY FORWARD FOR
THE WEST, AS HE CALLED IT, IS TO
PROMOTE A CIVIL WAR AMONGST
MUSLIMS.
WELL, I THOUGHT...
HADN'T THE HIJACKERS OF 9-11
COME OUT OF THE GOOD MUSLIMS OF
THE AFGHAN WAR?
RE-SOURCED, TRAINED, BY NONE
OTHER THAN THE US?
HADN'T THE GOOD MUSLIMS OF IRAQ,
ON THE MORROW OF THE OVERTHROW
OF THE DICTATORSHIP, DEMANDED
INDEPENDENCE?
AN END TO OCCUPATION?
AND IN DOING SO, TURNED INTO BAD
MUSLIMS?
WEREN'T THE ADJECTIVES "GOOD."
AND "BAD" REALLY LABELS FOR
PRO-AMERICAN AND ANTI-AMERICAN
MUSLIMS?
RATHER THAN LABELS FOR THE
RELATIONSHIP MUSLIMS HAVE TO
THEIR RELIGION?
I THOUGHT IN SPITE OF THESE
DIFFERENCES THERE WAS MUCH MORE
THAT BROUGHT TOGETHER HUNTINGTON
AND BERNARD LEWIS.
THERE WAS A SHARED COMMON SENSE.
AND I
THOUGHT THAT IT IS THIS SHARED
COMMON SENSE THAT THEY HAD
IMPARTED TO THE AMERICAN PUBLIC.
AND THIS SHARED COMMON SENSE
SEEMED TO BE THAT OUR WORLD IS
DIVIDED INTO TWO.
BROADLY AND GENERALLY.
IT IS
DIVIDED BETWEEN THOSE WHO ARE
MODERN AND THOSE WHO ARE NOT.
AND THE DIFFERENCE IS THAT
MODERN PEOPLES...
ARE PEOPLES WHO HAVE A CAPACITY
TO BE SELF-REFLECTING.
WHO HAVE A CAPACITY TO EXAMINE
THEIR OWN CONDUCT, THEIR OWN
HISTORY, THEIR OWN SOCIETY,
THEIR OWN CULTURE.
TO DISTINGUISH THE GOOD FROM THE
BAD.
TO DO AWAY WITH THE BAD AND TO
BUILD ON THE GOOD.
AND THE ASSUMPTION WAS THAT
PRE-MODERN PEOPLES DO NOT HAVE
THIS CAPACITY.
PRE-MODERN PEOPLES ARE ACTUALLY
SIMPLY BORN INTO A CULTURE.
THEY SORT OF CARRY THAT CULTURE
WITH THEM LIKE YOU CARRY A BAG
ON A TRAIN.
OR THEY SUFFER FROM IT.
LIKE ONE WOULD SUFFER FROM
TROPICAL FEVER OR DESERT FEVER.
OR THEY SUFFER FROM IT LIKE A
TWITCH.
THEY HAVE LITTLE CHOICE.
THEY ARE CONDEMNED TO LIVE
THEIR CULTURE.
SO THE ASSUMPTION WAS THAT WHILE
THE MODERN PEOPLES ARE CAPABLE
OF PROGRESS, THE PRE-MODERN
PEOPLES ARE NOT.
THAT PROGRESS WOULD HAVE TO BE
BROUGHT TO THEM FROM THE
OUTSIDE.
EITHER BY INVASION,
COLONIZATION, OR BY
PHILANTHROPY.
BUT THEY ARE INCAPABLE OF MAKING
PROGRESS THEMSELVES.
SO THAT WHEN IT COMES TO THE
PRE-MODERN PEOPLES, YOU CAN
READ THEIR POLITICS FROM THEIR
CULTURE.
I USED TO BE FAMILIAR WITH ALL
THIS, BECAUSE, AS I SAID, I
COME...
FROM THIRD GENERATION SOUTH
ASIANS IN EAST AFRICA.
PROFESSIONALLY, I TEACH AFRICAN
POLITICS AMONGST OTHER THINGS.
AND THIS CULTURE TALK, I CALL IT
CULTURE TALK, THIS CULTURE TALK,
WAS THE PRINCIPLE EXPLANATION OF
POLITICS AND CONFLICT, CALLED
TRIBALISM, IN AFRICA.
AND NOW IT HAS BECOME THE
PRINCIPLE EXPLANATION OF A
PARTICULAR KIND OF POLITICAL
VIOLENCE.
I THOUGHT THERE WAS SOMETHING
WRONG WITH THIS CULTURE TALK.
SOMETHING CONVENIENT ABOUT IT.
CONVENIENT, SIMPLY IN THE SENSE
THAT, YOU KNOW, IF YOU SLAP ME
AND I SAY "OH, THAT'S YOUR
CULTURE."
IT'S CONVENIENT, BECAUSE IT
REMOVES FORM THE PICTURE THE
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN YOU AND ME.
IT REMOVES ME FROM THE PICTURE.
JUST LEAVES YOU IN THE PICTURE.
I THOUGHT THAT POLITICS NEEDED A
POLITICAL EXPLANATION.
BUT BEFORE I GO ON TO THE
QUESTION OF POLITICS, JUST ONE
POINT:
ALL CULTURES, WITHOUT EXCEPTION,
ARE HISTORICAL.
ALL.
ALL OF THEM.
THERE'S NO EXCEPTION WHATSOEVER.
IF WE THINK WE'RE PART OF
HUMANITY, AND NOT JUST ONE
CIVILIZATION WALLED OFF FROM
EVERYTHING ELSE, A CIVILIZATION
MARCHING IN COLUMNS, ARMOURED
COLUMNS, THEN WE BETTER ACCEPT
THAT ALL CULTURES ARE
HISTORICAL.
MY SECOND POINT...
PROFESSORS ARE USED TO COUNTING
THEIR POINTS.
I'LL HAVE THREE POINTS TODAY.
(Chuckling)
UNLESS YOU PROVOKE ME FURTHER.
MY SECOND POINT...
WELL, OKAY, IF CULTURES ARE...
IF ALL CULTURES ARE HISTORICAL,
CAN WE SPEAK OF CULTURES,
CIVILIZATIONS, AS IF THEY GROW
INSIDE CONTAINERS, SO THAT WE
CAN SPEAK OF DISCREET
CIVILIZATIONS?
WESTERN, EASTERN...
CHRISTIAN, MUSLIM.
NOW IT'S CALLED JUDEO-CHRISTIAN
CIVILIZATION.
BUT, YOU WILL RECALL, THAT
BEFORE THE HOLOCAUST, THERE WAS
NO TALK OF JUDEO-CHRISTIAN
CIVILIZATION.
IN FACT, IT WAS ASSUMED THAT
THERE WAS A CLASH OF
CIVILIZATIONS.
THAT'S WHAT LED TO THE
HOLOCAUST.
THAT ASSUMPTION.
JUDE-CHRISTIAN CIVILIZATION IS A
RESULT OF A POLITICAL PROJECT
AFTER THE HOLOCAUST.
TO CREATE THE INTELLECTUAL BASIS
OF A RECONCILIATION.
OF AN INTEGRATION OF JEWISH
PEOPLE INSIDE THE WEST.
RATHER THAN IT'S OTHER.
EVEN HOW WE THINK OF CULTURES IS
HISTORICAL.
BUT LET ME GO BACK TO THAT
QUESTION.
CAN WE THINK OF CULTURES AS
GROWING INSIDE CONTAINERS?
EVEN IF THESE CONTAINERS ARE
POROUS?
AS I THOUGHT
THROUGH THAT QUESTION, I BEGAN
TO READ THE LITERATURE OF
POLITICAL ISLAM.
PARTICULARLY, THE LITERATURE
SINCE THE MIDDLE OF THE 19th
CENTURY.
BECAUSE I
REALIZED THAT POLITICAL ISLAM,
SINCE THE MIDDLE OF THE 19th
CENTURY, HAS BASICALLY BEEN A
RESPONSE TO THE BIG QUESTION:
COLONIZATION.
WHAT IS ONE TO DO ABOUT THE FACT
THAT JUST ABOUT EVERY MUSLIM
SOCIETY HAS BEEN COLONIZED FROM
THE OUTSIDE?
THE KEY THINKER, IT SEEMED TO
ME, WAS AN IRANIAN THINKER
CALLED JAMAL UDDIN AL-AFGHANI.
JAMAL UDDIN AL-AFGHANI...
WROTE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE 19th
CENTURY.
FROM IRAN HE WENT TO INDIA.
IN INDIA HE WITNESSED THE
NATIONAL UPRISING OF 1857.
AND IT'S BRUTAL REPRESSION BY
THE BRITISH.
FROM THERE HE WENT TO PARIS.
HE HAD BEEN EDUCATED IN A
MADRESSA.
WENT TO PARIS, WHERE HE HAD VERY
INTERESTING PUBLIC DEBATES WITH
ERNEST RENAND.
YOU CAN FIND THOSE, UH, IN THE
LIBRARY.
RENAND WAS PRE-OCCUPIED WITH
THIS QUESTION:
COLONIZATION.
AND HIS ANSWER WAS THAT IF
YOU'VE BEEN COLONIZED FROM THE
OUTSIDE, IT'S
PRIMA FACIE
EVIDENCE THAT YOU'RE WEAK ON THE
INSIDE.
AND SO IF YOU WANT TO DO
SOMETHING ABOUT FOREIGN
DOMINATION, YOU HAVE TO BEGIN BY
IDENTIFYING YOUR INTERNAL
WEAKNESSES AND ADDRESSING THEM.
AND AL-AFGHANI THOUGHT THE KEY
INTERNAL WEAKNESS WAS THAT THE
ISLAMIC MASSES WERE SHUT OUT OF
THE PUBLIC SPHERE.
THEY WERE SHUT OUT OF POLITICS.
AND THAT THE WAY FORWARD WAS...
GREATER PARTICIPATION.
HE THOUGHT SOCIAL REFORM WOULD
BRING ABOUT THE REFORM OF THE
STATE.
IN THIS SENSE HIS THOUGHT WAS
SOCIETY-CENTRED.
AFGHANI WAS THE DOMINANT LIGHT
FOR DECADES AND DECADES.
UNTIL, A CENTURY LATER...
ANOTHER KEY THINKER, ABU-ALA
MAUDUDI.
MAUDUDI...
WAS AN INDIAN.
JOURNALIST.
AFTER THE PARTITION OF INDIA, HE
WENT TO PAKISTAN.
HE CAME TO PAKISTAN, LOOKED
AROUND, AND HE SAID "THIS IS NO
DIFFERENT FROM WHAT I LEFT
BEHIND IN INDIA.
THIS IS BANAL.
THESE GUYS SIMPLY HAVE DIFFERENT
RITUALS.
BUT THEY'RE NO DIFFERENT FROM
THE INDIANS."
PAKISTAN MEANS "THE LAND OF THE
PURE."
AND MAUDUDI SAID "NOW PAKISTAN,
NOT YET LAND OF THE PURE.
OR THE LAND OF THE IMPURE."
MAUDUDI CONCLUDED THAT ORDINARY
MUSLIMS COULD NOT BE TRUSTED.
THEY WOULD HAVE TO BE MADE INTO
MUSLIMS.
AND THAT THE WAY FORWARD WAS NOT
SOCIAL REFORM, BUT THE WAY
FORWARD WAS TO CONQUER STATE
POWER.
TO CONQUER THE STATE, TO CREATE
AN ISLAMIST STATE...
AND TO MAKE THE PEOPLE, FORCE
THE PEOPLE, TO BECOME, TO ACT,
TO BEHAVE, AS TRUE MUSLIMS.
I ASK MYSELF...
MAUDUDI'S TURN FROM A SOCIETAL
NATIONALISM, A RELIGIOUS
NATIONALISM, BUT A SOCIETAL
NATIONALISM, TO A STATE-CENTRED
NATIONALISM, SEEMED TO ME NOT
EXCEPTIONAL IN THE 1950s.
IT APPEARED TO ME THAT THIS
SHIFT WAS TAKING PLACE WIDELY.
IN ALL KINDS OF NATIONALISM, NOT
ONLY RELIGIOUS.
BUT ALSO SECULAR NATIONALISM
WITHIN THE NEWLY INDEPENDENT
COUNTRIES.
I WANT TO SPEAK OF A THIRD
THINKER.
EGYPTIAN THINKER CALLED SAYYID
QUTB.
MAUDUDI INFLUENCED QUTB.
STRONGLY.
QUTB WAS A LITERARY CRITIC.
A LITERARY CRITIC...
WHO DIED IN THE JAILS OF NASSA.
WHO JOINED THE MUSLIM BROTHERS.
BECAME ONE OF IT'S LEADERS.
JOINED THE FREE OFFICERS...
IN THE NASSERID COUP.
REFUSED TO JOIN THE CABINET.
LATER THROWN INTO JAIL.
TORTURED, RELEASED, JAILED
AGAIN, TORTURED, DIED.
AND IN JAIL HE WROTE...
SORT OF A MANIFESTO.
CALLED
CALLED
MILESTONES.
YOU CAN BUY
MILESTONES
ON
amazon.com.
IT'S SHORT.
SHORT BOOK.
QUTB WRITES IN THE PREFACE TO
MILESTONES...
HE SAYS "I HAVE WRITTEN THIS...
FOR THE ISLAMIST VANGUARD."
I THOUGHT I WAS READING LENIN
WHAT IS TO BE DONE.
AS YOU READ THE TEXT, QUTB'S
KEY POINT IS THAT ONE MUST
DISTINGUISH BETWEEN FRIENDS AND
ENEMIES.
BECAUSE WITH FRIENDS YOU USE
PERSUASION.
AND WITH ENEMIES, YOU USE FORCE.
AND I THOUGHT I WAS READING
MAUSTON.
ON THE CORRECT HANDLING OF
CONTRADICTIONS AMONGST THE
PEOPLE.

He clears his throat and continues
QUTB HAD EMBRACED POLITICAL
VIOLENCE AS CENTRAL TO POLITICAL
EMANCIPATION.
EMANCIPATION IN THIS WORLD, NOT
IN THE NEXT WORLD.
AND HE
BELIEVED THE ONLY WAY TO
EMANCIPATE YOURSELF FROM YOUR
ENEMIES IS THROUGH VIOLENCE.
AND I THOUGHT THAT QUTB WAS NOT
THAT UNUSUAL WRITING IN THE
1970s.
WHEN THE INTELLIGENTSIA OF, WHEN
MOST INTELLECTUALS...
OR LEFT INTELLECTUALS IN NEWLY
INDEPENDENT COUNTRIES...
HAD EMBRACED POLITICAL VIOLENCE
AS KEY TO POLITICAL LIBERATION.
THERE WAS A ROMANCE WITH ARMED
STRUGGLE AND A ROMANCE WITH
ARMED NATIONAL LIBERATION
MOVEMENTS.
THERE WAS A PRESUMPTION THAT THE
ONLY GENUINE NATIONAL LIBERATION
MOVEMENT IS AN ARMED MOVEMENT.
AND I THOUGHT THERE WAS NOTHING
EXTRAORDINARY ABOUT QUTB.
I THOUGHT WHAT QUTB WAS SAYING
WAS A SIGN OF THE TIMES.
I THOUGHT THAT QUTB, LIKE
MAUDUDI, WERE NOT JUST IN
CONVERSATION WITH THEIR
ISLAMIST ANCESTORS, LIKE JAMAL
UDDIN AL-AFGHANI, BUT I THOUGHT
THEY WERE ALSO IN CONVERSATION
WITH CONTEMPORARIES.
I THOUGHT THEY WERE ADDRESSING
THE YOUTH OF THEIR COUNTRIES,
VERY MINDFUL OF THE COMPETITION
AND THE COMPETITION IN THOSE
YEARS WAS NATIONAL LIBERATION,
MARXISM, LENINISM.
AND WHAT THEY SHARED IN COMMON
WITH THE COMPETITION WAS THE
CENTRALITY OF POLITICAL
VIOLENCE.
AND IN FACT, THE MORE I THOUGHT
ABOUT IT, THE MORE I REALIZED
THAT THIS WAS NOT SIMPLY...
THE 1970s.
THAT IN FACT...
IF ONE WANTED TO UNDERSTAND THE
GROWING PREVALENCE OF POLITICAL
VIOLENCE, ONE WOULD HAVE TO
DISCARD THE IDEA THAT IT'S
SOURCE WAS LACK OF MODERNITY AND
COME TO TERMS WITH THE FACT THAT
IT IS MODERNITY WHICH WORSHIPS
POLITICAL VIOLENCE.
ONE WOULD HAVE TO ACKNOWLEDGE
THE FACT THAT...
THE MOST VIOLENT CENTURY IN
RECORDED HISTORY HAS BEEN THE
20th CENTURY.
YOU JUST ADD UP THE NUMBERS OF
PEOPLE WHO'VE DIED IN
REVOLUTIONS,
COUNTER-REVOLUTIONS, WORLD
WARS...
HOLOCAUSTS.
YOU'LL COME UP WITH A TALLY THAT
CANNOT BE TOUCHED BY ANY OTHER
CENTURY IN HISTORY.
YOU'D HAVE TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE
FACT THAT EVER SINCE THE FRENCH
REVOLUTION...
THERE HAS BEEN, IN MODERNITY, A
FAITH IN PROGRESS.
AND A CONVICTION THAT CENTRAL TO
PROGRESS IS REVOLUTION.
IS RATIONAL VIOLENCE.
VIOLENCE WHICH MOVES HISTORY
AHEAD.
REMEMBER KARL MARX?
"REVOLUTION IS THE MIDWIFE OF
HISTORY."
THAT OUR PROBLEM IS NOT
VIOLENCE.
OUR PROBLEM IS SIMPLY VIOLENCE
WHICH DOES NOT MAKE SENSE TO US.
VIOLENCE WHICH DOESN'T SEEM TO
BE REVOLUTIONARY.
I THOUGHT THAT THE PROBLEM OF
POLITICAL VIOLENCE...
WAS NOT SIMPLY AN ISLAMIST
PROBLEM.
IT WASN'T EVEN SIMPLY A
RELIGIOUS PROBLEM.
IT WAS A PROBLEM AT THE HEART OF
MODERNITY.
SECULAR AS MUCH AS RELIGIOUS.
IF WE DISCARD THE IDEA THAT WE
CAN THINK OF...
INTELLECTUAL THOUGHT AS JUST
INSIDE CONTAINERS, COLD
CIVILIZATIONS, AND THAT ACTUALLY
WE HAVE TO THINK OF RUPTURES
WHEN THE LEVY'S DOWN AND THE
WATERS...

He clears his throat and continues
ARE ALL OVER THE PLACE.
THE LINES AND THE BOUNDARIES ARE
NOT SIMPLY BLURRED, BUT CEASE TO
EXIST AT CERTAIN POINTS.
THERE STILL REMAINS ANOTHER BIG
QUESTION, WHICH IS:
HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN?
1960s, '70s, SAYYID QUTB.
THE EMBRACE OF POLITICAL
VIOLENCE IS AN INTELLECTUAL
EMBRACED BY AN INTELLECTUAL
THROWN INTO JAIL.
HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN IN A SPACE OF
10 YEARS THIS EMBRACE OF
POLITICAL VIOLENCE, THIS
TENDENCY...
THIS EXTREMISM, MOVING FROM AN
INTELLECTUAL TO A POLITICAL
FIELD.
BECAUSE BY THE 1980s...
THESE TENDENCIES IN POLITICAL
ISM WERE NOT SIMPLY
INTELLECTUAL TENDENCIES, THEY
WERE INSPIRING ACTION, POLITICAL
ACTION.
HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN THAT SHIFT?
AND THE MORE I BEGAN TO THINK OF
THAT QUESTION, THE MORE I
REALIZED THAT I WOULD HAVE TO
LEAVE THE TERRAIN OF POLITICAL
ISLAM.
AND MOVE TO THE TERRAIN OF US
FOREIGN POLICY.
TO ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS.
AND AS I DID SO, I THOUGHT THE
MOST CONVENIENT POINT OF
DEPARTURE WAS 1975.
THE END OF THE WAR IN VIETNAM.
IT'S A MEMORABLE YEAR.
IT'S MY FIRST JOB AT THE
UNIVERSITY OF DA-ISLAM.
WE CELEBRATED THE US DEFEAT IN
VIETNAM AND THE COLLAPSE OF THE
PORTUGUESE EMPIRE.
TWO EVENTS WHICH HAPPENED THAT
YEAR.
THE END OF THE PORTUGUESE EMPIRE
MEANT INDEPENDENCE FOR ANGOLA,
MOZAMBIQUE...
GUINEA BISSAU.
BUT IT ALSO MEANT A SHIFT OF THE
CENTRE OF GRAVITY OF THE COLD
WAR FROM SOUTH EAST ASIA TO
SOUTHERN AFRICA.
WHO WOULD PICK UP THE PIECES?
1979, THERE WERE TWO
REVOLUTIONS, THE SANDINISTA
REVOLUTION IN NICARAGUA AND THE
ISLAMIST REVOLUTION IN IRAN.
AND REAGAN CAME TO POWER.
THERE WAS AN
ANTI-WAR MOVEMENT AT HOME, A
POWERFUL ONE.
IN ANGOLA.
WHEN IT CAME TO US
INTERVENTION...
CONGRESS AND
SENATE HAD ALREADY PASSED THE
CLARK AMENDMENT.
SAYING THE US CANNOT INTERVENE.
EITHER COVERT OR OVERT
INTERVENTION.
WHAT WAS THE US TO DO?
KISSINGER WAS IN CHARGE OF US
FOREIGN POLICY IN THE INTERIM
BETWEEN '75 AND CARTER.
AND KISSINGER'S RESPONSE WAS
"WELL, IF WE CAN'T INTERVENE,
WE'LL GET OTHERS TO INTERVENE."
PROXY WAR.
THE FIRST PROXY WERE SOUTH
AFRICA AND ANGOLA.
BUT THE MINUTE IT BECAME KNOWN
THAT THE WHITE TROOPS IN ANGOLA
WERE NOT MERCENARIES BUT SOUTH
AFRICANS...
IT BECAME A FIASCO, LIKE THE BAY
OF PIGS.
REAGAN CAME TO POWER AND
PROCLAIMED A DOCTRINE WHICH
STOOD ON TWO LEGS.
THE FIRST WAS...
THAT AMERICA HAS BEEN PREPARING
FOR THE WRONG WAR.
AMERICA HAS BEEN PREPARING FOR
A WAR IN EUROPE, A RE-PLAY OF
THE SECOND WORLD WAR.
AND THAT WAR IS NEVER GOING TO
HAPPEN.
AND INSTEAD AMERICA IS LOSING
THE WAR WHICH IS ACTUALLY ON.
AND THE WAR WHICH IS ACTUALLY
ON, SAID REAGAN, IS IN THE THIRD
WORLD.
IT IS THE WAR WITH MILITANT
NATIONALISM, WHICH IS, REAGAN
CLAIMED, A SOVIET PROXY.
AND SO REAGAN'S SECOND CALL WAS
TO ABANDON CONTAINMENT AND TO
ROLL BACK THE SOVIET UNION.
BEFORE HE DIED, GEORGE
KENNAN...
KNOWN AS THE FATHER OF
CONTAINMENT, IN THE EARLY '90s
WROTE AN OP-ED PIECE IN
THE
NEW YORK TIMES
WHICH IS
WELL WORTH READING.
KENNAN ARGUED IN THE OP-ED
PIECE, HE SAID THE SOVIET UNION
HAD ALREADY BEEN CONTAINED IN
THE FIRST THREE YEARS AFTER
CONTAINMENT BECAME POLICY.
BUT HE SAID THE US ESTABLISHMENT
WAS NOT INTERESTED IN PEACEFUL
CO-EXISTENCE.
IT WANTED VICTORY AT ANY COST.
AND SO THE COLD WAR HAPPENED.
IT DIDN'T HAVE TO BE.
THIS IS KENNAN.
REAGAN'S INTELLECTUAL MENTOR WAS
AN EARLY NEO-CON CALLED JEAN
KIRKPATRICK.
JEAN KIRKPATRICK WAS A FORMER
PROFESSOR, HIS AMBASSADOR AT THE
UN.
SHE WROTE AN ARTICLE IN
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE
CALLED "DICTATORSHIP AND DOUBLE
STANDARDS," AND SHE WROTE A BOOK
BY THAT NAME.
AND THE KEY ARGUMENT IN THAT
BOOK AND IN THE ARTICLE WAS...
THAT DICTATORSHIPS CAN BE
CLASSIFIED INTO TWO:
AUTHORITARIAN AND TOTALITARIAN.
SHE SAID RIGHT-WING
DICTATORSHIPS ARE A RESULT OF
INTERNAL DEVELOPMENT.
THEY ARE ORGANIC TO THE
COUNTRIES IN WHICH THEY EXIST.
AND THEREFORE THEY WILL BE
OVERTHROWN BY FORCES INTERNAL TO
THAT COUNTRY.
BUT LEFT-WING DICTATORSHIPS ARE
NOT ORGANIC TO THE COUNTRIES
WHERE THEY EXIST.
THEY HAVE BEEN IMPOSED FROM THE
OUTSIDE BY THE SOVIET UNION, AND
THEY CAN ONLY BE OVERTHROWN FROM
THE OUTSIDE.
THUS, TOTALITARIAN, AS OPPOSED
TO AUTHORITARIAN.
WELL JEAN KIRKPATRICK SOLVED THE
MORAL PROBLEM OF MAKING FRIENDS
WITH RIGHT-WING DICTATORSHIPS
AND INTERFERING AND OVERTHROWING
LEFT-WING GOVERNMENTS,
DICTATORSHIPS OR NOT.
REMEMBER REAGAN'S FAMOUS SPEECH
ON THE EVIL EMPIRE.
GIVEN TO A CONGREGATION OF
CHURCH MEN AND WOMEN.
WHERE REAGAN BAPTISED THE SOVIET
UNION AS EVIL.
THE LANGUAGE OF RELIGION HAD
ENTERED POLITICS, OF COURSE,
MUCH EARLIER IN AMERICAN
HISTORY.
BUT THIS WAS IT'S KEY ENTRY
DURING THE COLD WAR.
BECAUSE WE SHOULD BE AWARE OF
THE USES OF EVIL.
THE POLITICAL USES OF THE
LANGUAGE OF EVIL.
BECAUSE EVIL IS SOMETHING WITH
WHICH YOU CANNOT COMPROMISE.
YOU EITHER DESTROY EVIL OR YOU
BECOME EVIL.
WITH EVIL THERE CAN BE NO
PEACEFUL CO-EXISTENCE.
THE POINT, THE POLITICAL POINT
OF THE LANGUAGE OF EVIL WAS...
THAT IT WAS THE INTELLECTUAL
COMPLIMENT.
TO A WAR TO THE FINISH.
AS REAGAN SAID, "BY ANY MEANS
NECESSARY."
A PHRASE WHICH CAN ONLY REFER TO
UNJUST MEANS.
WELL, IN THE FIGHT AGAINST EVIL,
ANY ALLIANCE IS JUSTIFIED.
AND THE FIRST ALLIANCE WAS...
WITH APARTHEID SOUTH AFRICA.
CALLED CONSTRUCTIVE ENGAGEMENT.
UNDER THAT ALLIANCE, THE US
PROVIDED A POLITICAL UMBRELLA TO
APARTHEID SOUTH AFRICA, AS SOUTH
AFRICA ORGANIZED FINANCED
RE-SOURCE, AFRICA'S FIRST
GENUINELY TERRORIST MOVEMENT
CALLED RENAMO IN MOZAMBIQUE.
GENUINELY TERRORIST IN THAT IT
WAS A MOVEMENT WHICH TARGETED
SPECIFICALLY CIVILIANS:
BRIDGES, SCHOOLS, HEALTH
CENTRES.
THE US WAS AN UNDERSTUDY.
THE STATE DEPARTMENT ISSUED
REGULAR REPORTS ABOUT THE DAMAGE
DONE BY RENAMO IN MOZAMBIQUE.
AND CONDEMNED RENAMO.
BUT THE US PROVIDED THE
POLITICAL UMBRELLA TO SOUTH
AFRICA.
AS IT INDEED DID TO ISRAEL IN
THE MIDDLE EAST.
THE
UNDERSTUDY...
BEGAN TO PAY WHEN IT CAME TO
CENTRAL AMERICA.
AND THE US CREATED A VERSION OF
RENAMO IN NICARAGUA CALLED THE
CONTRAS.
THE CONTRAS
WERE NO DIFFERENT.
BRIDGES...
KIDNAPPING PEASANTS.
TARGETING HEALTH CENTRES.
HEALTH PERSONNEL.
I WANT US TO...
RECOGNIZE.
FIRST...
THAT TERROR IS A STRATEGY THE US
ADOPTED WHEN IT HAD ALMOST LOST
THE COLD WAR.
TERROR BY PROXIES.
BECAUSE PROXIES WERE NOT
ACCOUNTABLE TO DEMOCRATIC
INSTITUTIONS INSIDE THE US.
THEY WERE NOT ACCOUNTABLE TO
CONGRESS, ALTHOUGH CONGRESS DID
CUT OFF OR DIMINISH FUNDING
THROUGH THE BOLAND AMENDMENT TO
THE CONTRAS.
AS THE IRAN-CONTRA SCANDAL CAME
TO LIGHT.
BUT FIRST, THE PROXY IS...
SORRY.
TERROR BY PROXY IS SOMETHING THE
US TURNED TO WHEN IT HAD ALMOST
LOST THE COLD WAR, AND SECOND,
THAT THE FIRST PROXIES WERE NOT
RELIGIOUS, THEY WERE SECULAR.
THERE WAS NOTHING RELIGIOUS
ABOUT RENAMO, OR CONTRAS.
THE RELIGIOUS PROXY CAME WITH
THE AFGHAN JIHAD.
THE AFGHAN JIHAD, THE AFGHAN WAR
TOOK PLACE ON THE BORDERS OF THE
SOVIET UNION.
IT WAS THE LONGEST WAR THE
SOVIET UNION HAD FOUGHT OUTSIDE
IT'S BORDERS IN IT'S HISTORY AND
IT WAS THE LARGEST CIA OPERATION
IN IT'S HISTORY.
THE CIA WAS DETERMINED...
TO FUND...
NOT ONLY ISLAMIST ORGANIZATIONS,
BUT THE MOST EXTREME ISLAMIST
ORGANIZATIONS.
FOR ONE REASON:
THE CIA, THE PAKISTANI ISI, AND
THE SAUDI SECURITY SERVICES,
WERE ALL DETERMINED THAT THEY
MUST IDENTIFY THOSE WHO WERE THE
MOST IDEOLOGICAL, THOSE WHO
WOULD BE OPPOSED TO ANY
COMPROMISE, ANY NEGOTIATION WITH
THE SOVIET UNION.
THOSE...
WHO WOULD FIGHT A JIHAD AS A
HOLY DUTY.
AND THAT THIS FIGHT WOULD NOT BE
CONFINED TO AFGHANS.
FOR THE FIRST TIME, THE MANTEL
OF NATIONAL LIBERATION WAS
DROPPED.
AND THE MANTEL OF A RELIGIOUS
LIBERATION WAR WAS PUT ON.
THE CIA SALIVATED AT THE THOUGHT
OF TURNING A BILLION MUSLIMS
INTO A RESERVOIR FOR GUERRILLA
OPERATIONS.
HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS, IF WE
ARE TO GO BY ESTIMATES.
ANYWHERE FROM 50,000 UPWARDS,
WERE TRAINED IN MADRESSAS.
THE NAME EVOKES...
A RELIGIOUS SCHOOL.
FROM THOUSAND YEARS.
BUT THE REALITY WAS DIFFERENT.
THE AFGHAN MADRESSAS...
WERE AN INSTITUTION SHAPED AS
MUCH BY THE US AS IT WAS
SHAPED...
BY THE JIHADISTS THEMSELVES.
I FOUND SOME TEXTBOOKS USED IN
THE MADRESSAS.
I GIVE YOU ONE EXAMPLE:
THE UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA GOT A
$50 MILLION GRANT FROM USA TO
WRITE TEXTBOOKS FOR MADRESSAS.
INCLUDING MATHEMATICS TEXTBOOKS.
SO HERE IS A QUESTION FROM A
THIRD GRADE MATHEMATICS
TEXTBOOK.
FOR A NINE YEAR OLD.
IT SAYS:
"ONE GROUP OF MUJAHIDIN ATTACK
50 RUSSIAN SOLDIERS.
IN THAT ATTACK, 20 RUSSIANS ARE
KILLED.
HOW MANY RUSSIANS FLED?"
50 MINUS 20 EQUALS 30.
(Murmurs from audience)
YOU GO TO A
FOURTH GRADE TEXTBOOK, FOR A 10
YEAR OLD, AND IT UPS THE ANTE.
HERE'S THE QUESTION:
"THE SPEED OF A KALASHNIKOV
BULLET IS 800 METRES PER
SECOND."
"IF A
RUSSIAN IS AT A DISTANCE OF
3,200 METRES FROM A MUJAHID, AND
THAT MUJAHID AIMS AT THE
RUSSIAN'S HEAD, CALCULATE HOW
MANY SECONDS IT WILL TAKE FOR
THE BULLET TO STRIKE THE RUSSIAN
IN THE FOREHEAD."
3,200
DIVIDED BY 800 IS 4.
BUT A LOT MORE COUNTS IN THAT
QUESTION.
WHAT I'M TELLING YOU...
IS THAT IF YOU LOOK AT THE
HISTORY OF INTELLECTUAL THOUGHT,
YOU'LL FIND CERTAIN CRUCIAL
MOMENTS.
SOME GOOD, SOME BAD.
GOOD LIKE ANDALUSIA, IN SPAIN.
BAD LIKE...
THE EXAMPLE I'VE JUST BEEN
READING.
WHERE INTELLECTUAL CONSTRUCTS
CANNOT SIMPLY BE EXPLAINED AS
THE PRODUCT OF ONE SINGLE
CIVILIZATION.
WHERE THEY ARE THE RESULT OF A
CONFLUENCE.
BRINGING TOGETHER PARTICULAR
TENDENCIES.
IN THIS CASE, NEO-CON AMERICA
AND JIHADI ISLAM.
PARTNERS IN CRIME.
WHO HAVE TURNED AGAINST ONE
ANOTHER TODAY.

Watch: Mahmood Mamdani on Good Muslim, Bad Muslim