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The poverty of dignity

This Magazine Staff

Could Thomas L. Freidman’s editorial in today’s New York Times have been inspired by a recent THIS Magazine blog discussion?

It sure reads like it was.

More likely of course is that American journalists are taking the lead, way ahead of their government certainly, in finally trying to answer that second question on every American’s mind after the events 9/11. The first was “Who would do this?”, and the second was “Why do they hate us so much?”

The answer, of course, lies at a more complicated depth than anyone could get to in 2001, and one we are all just barely getting a whiff of now.

From the editorial:

“Some of these young Muslim men are tempted by a civilization they consider morally inferior, and they are humiliated by the fact that, while having been taught their faith is supreme, other civilizations seem to be doing much better,” said Raymond Stock, the Cairo-based biographer and translator of Naguib Mahfouz. “When the inner conflict becomes too great, some are turned by recruiters to seek the sick prestige of ‘martyrdom’ by fighting the allegedly unjust occupation of Muslim lands and the ‘decadence’ in our own.”

This is not about the poverty of money. This is about the poverty of dignity and the rage it can trigger.

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