Nothing radical about Dr. Pipes
July 21, 2009
I was dismayed at the Friday, July 17, photo caption featuring Dr. Daniel Pipes, which read “Radical Ideas.” As a 30-something American citizen hopeful for a peaceful future, I was encouraged to attend this event by my father and some of his friends – an invitation I accepted with an open mind and a willingness to learn. And so I did.
Dr. Pipes discussed critical steps needed to safeguard the democratic ideals we cherish as Americans as part of our Western culture. Is the preservation of democracy what we now consider to be a “radical” idea? Do the Aspen Times’ writers – and readers – regard freedom of speech as “radical”?
The term “radical” in this case should be replaced with the word “rational.” The people who you deem “radical” want the very things that many of us want – a peaceful world where democratic values and diverse cultures will continue to thrive. Where we may disagree is in the tactics. Dr. Pipes and others share the belief – based upon credible fact and evidence – that we can only achieve these freedoms with the pursuit of due diligence and action steps.
Whether we accept this reality or not, addressing radical cultures of hate is, in fact, the insurance policy that we Americans depend upon. It is what protects the ideals and freedoms that make our country special. With all insurance policies, the greater the protection, the greater the premium.
We all should be willing to protect those who believe in, and aspire to, sustaining a democratic society – from our fellow Americans to Neda Agha-Soltan, the young woman brutally killed last month at a pro-democracy protest in Iran. We felt the pain of Neda’s oppression and the anguish of her mourning family. Yet, we refuse to see the weapons – and the people who fire them – that killed her.
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The extremism at the root of such tragedies – and its threat to human rights and human life – is precisely what Dr. Pipes addressed. Dismissing this as a “radical idea” is a devastating blow for Team Democracy.