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The Unlearned Lessons of 9/11

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The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 should have been a rude awakening from the dogmatic slumbers of the previous decade. Instead, after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the West went on a vacation from history. The seeming triumph of liberal democracy and free-market capitalism convinced many that all we had left to do was to oversee the inevitable triumph of the Western paradigm throughout the world. Unfortunately, the “world,” especially the Islamic ummah, had other plans, ones that our own bad ideas and cultural dogmas have advanced.

Most broadly, the centuries-long belief that all peoples everywhere are embryonic Westerners should have been shattered by the slaughter in Manhattan and at the Pentagon. The attacks were a horrifically graphic reminder that our core ideals––human rights, sex equality, tolerance of difference, peaceful coexistence, personal and political freedom, material prosperity, the separation of church and state, free speech, and consensual government founded on law––were historical anomalies rather than the destiny of all humanity.

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