Monday, December 29, 2008

clash of civilizations


With prescience, he sang the about the clash
that faces our uncivil civilizations,
whose differences might lead to nuclear ash
descending from the skies on all the nations.
He wrote that peaceful plowshares would be turned
to swords because of differences between
religions whose intensity still burned,
destructively addictive as morphine,
far more intensely in the heart and mind
than ideologies that atrophied
like plants for which the prophet Jonah pined
when Ninevites accepted his new creed.
The clash that Samuel Huntington foresaw
materialized, we saw, on 9/11
when we found out some people wish to soar
straight from earth’s kingdom to hubristic heaven,
and in autos da fe compound their error
by their rejection of reality, and try
to change the universe with acts of terror
performed the very moment that they die.
Sam Huntington may once have been a loner,
but since his views do not defy belief
we must now all acknowledge this late Jonah,
Greek chorus of aggression and great grief.

Inspired by Tamar Lewin’s obituary in the NYT, December 29, 2008 of Samuel P. Huntington, who died on December 24, 2008:

By the late 1960s, Dr. Huntington had turned his attention to foreign affairs. His 1969 book “Political Order in Changing Societies,” still widely used in graduate seminars, analyzed political and economic development in the third world. In recent years, Dr. Huntington was best known — and, since 9/11, acclaimed — for “The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order,” a 1996 book based on a 1993 Foreign Policy article. The book predicted that in the post-cold-war world, violent conflict would arise from cultural and religious differences among the major civilizations. The spread of American pop culture, he wrote, did not mean the spread of American attitudes. The book has an almost uncanny image of what was to come: “Somewhere in the Middle East, a half-dozen young men could well be dressed in jeans, drinking Coke, listening to rap, and between their bows to Mecca, putting together a bomb to blow up an American airliner.”

© 2008 Gershon Hepner 12/29/08


  1. How interesting! Thanks for bringing my attention to the article. Powerful poem.

  2. Gershon, be aware, your blog may turn into the sequence of obituaries :)
    As for this wise goy, I drank a shot of wiskey with my co-workers to honor his memory.