George Packer reflects on his debate with Tariq Ramadan. He says he was asked ahead of time if "I thought he evaded hard questions about the conflicts between the open society and fundamentalism."
I said I wasn’t sure and hoped to find out. By the end of the evening, I knew the answer. Ramadan is building a worthy bridge on a rotten foundation.
I don’t believe Packer is being sincere. I bet he had formed that conclusion about Ramadan ahead of time and nothing Ramadan revealed in the 90 minutes brought him to this realization. I think Packer is just carrying water for his friend Paul Berman, whom he has cited repeatedly. You’d think that Packer would wish to dissociate himself, or dissociate his thought processes, from this feverish guy who influenced him in his support for the disastrous Iraq war. Sorry– the brilliant Iraq war that was merely executed wrong.
There is something wrong with the Ramadan inquiry: it is so one-sided. Just imagine a formal evening in a New York hall where the religious-national identity of powerful Jews is explored. I mean, I agree that fundamentalist Islam is a problem, radical Islam. It is having a negative effect. But doesn’t religious nationalism on the other side have a part in this global conflict? Of course it does, especially the feverish brand of ethnic-supremacy that the Israelis are plying with the help of American friends.