MW 2:30-3:45, Olin 103
Read the excerpts from Pres. George W. Bush\u2019s speech of September 20, 2001,
delivered just nine days after the al Qaeda-sponsored terrorist attacks. In that
speech, Pres. Bush outlines (among other things) an understanding of the
terrorists\u2019 worldview and motivations.
There are significant differences between the way Pres. Bush understands
religion\u2019s role in the terror attacks of 9-11 and the way Mark Juergensmeyer
explains religious violence in general. However, there are some important
similarities as well. In your first paper, please respond to Bush\u2019s speech in
writing. This is the scenario: You have a master\u2019s degree in religious studies, and
you are currently studying for your doctorate under Juergensmeyer; you have
done extensive field research with him. Juergensmeyer has been asked to write a
900-1200 word newspaper column, to be published on the op-ed pages of the
New York Times on Sunday, September 23, 2001. However, he suddenly
discovered he couldn\u2019t do it. You have to write it for him (yes, this really does
happen to graduate students). Write an editorial in which you use your religious
studies expertise to take a position, in Juergensmeyer\u2019s voice, on Bush\u2019s speech
\u2014agreeing with it, rejecting it, or proposing adjustments and corrections. Does
Bush\u2019s view reflect your understanding of modern-day religious violence, based
your mentor\u2019s (Juergensmeyer\u2019s) scholarly work? Why or why not? What do you
think the American people most need to understand about religious violence,
whether included in the speech or not? Butremember: you are responding to the
speech primarily as a trained scholar of religion\u2014so your personal feelings for or
against the war on terror have to take a very secondary place (if they appear at
all!) to your scholarly understanding of religious violence.
On September the 11th, enemies of freedom committed an act of war against our
country. Americans have known wars\u2014but for the past 136 years, they have been
wars on foreign soil, except for one Sunday in 1941. Americans have known the
casualties of war\u2014but not at the center of a great city on a peaceful morning.
Americans have known surprise attacks\u2014but never before on thousands of
civilians. All of this was brought upon us in a single day\u2014and night fell on a
different world, a world where freedom itself is under attack.
Americans have many questions tonight. Americans are asking: Who attacked
our country? The evidence we have gathered all points to a collection of loosely
affiliated terrorist organizations known as al Qaeda. They are the same murderers
indicted for bombing American embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, and
responsible for bombing the USS Cole.
Al Qaeda is to terror what the mafia is to crime. But its goal is not making money;
its goal is remaking the world\u2014and imposing its radical beliefs on people
The terrorists practice a fringe form of Islamic extremism that has been rejected
by Muslim scholars and the vast majority of Muslim clerics\u2014a fringe movement
that perverts the peaceful teachings of Islam. The terrorists\u2019 directive commands
them to kill Christians and Jews, to kill all Americans, and make no distinction
among military and civilians, including women and children.
This group and its leader\u2014a person named Osama bin Laden\u2014are linked to many
other organizations in different countries, including the Egyptian Islamic Jihad
and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. There are thousands of these terrorists
in more than 60 countries. They are recruited from their own nations and
neighborhoods and brought to camps in places like Afghanistan, where they are
trained in the tactics of terror. They are sent back to their homes or sent to hide
in countries around the world to plot evil and destruction.
The leadership of al Qaeda has great influence in Afghanistan and supports the
Taliban regime in controlling most of that country. In Afghanistan, we see al
Qaeda\u2019s vision for the world.
Afghanistan\u2019s people have been brutalized\u2014many are starving and many have
fled. Women are not allowed to attend school. You can be jailed for owning a
television. Religion can be practiced only as their leaders dictate. A man can be
jailed in Afghanistan if his beard is not long enough.
The United States respects the people of Afghanistan\u2014after all, we are currently
its largest source of humanitarian aid\u2014but we condemn the Taliban regime.
(Applause.) It is not only repressing its own people, it is threatening people
everywhere by sponsoring and sheltering and supplying terrorists. By aiding and
abetting murder, the Taliban regime is committing murder \u2026 The Taliban must
act, and act immediately. They will hand over the terrorists, or they will share in
I also want to speak tonight directly to Muslims throughout the world. We respect
your faith. It\u2019s practiced freely by many millions of Americans, and by millions
more in countries that America counts as friends. Its teachings are good and
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