December 28, 2008
Apropos Matthew’s comments about Samuel Huntington, let’s not forget Huntington’s intellectual background. After the publication of Who Are We?, the Harvard prof was accused by many liberal journalists and academics of being an arch right-winger and nativist; however, in reality he was always a Cold War liberal. One can see this reflected not only in his thoughts on the universal, democratic “American creed” but also in his famous “clash of civilizations” thesis, in which new religio-ideological blocs would replace the former American and Soviet spheres, and in which, it was presumed, Washington would play a dominant, “global” role. I’ve also always sensed a connection, even if it were one of elective affinities, between Huntington’s “clash” thesis and the jihad-obsessed conservatism of Robert Spencer (no relation) and many like him, whose criticisms of “human rights” violations and the persecution of Christians in the Arab world are often implied justifications for American military intervention.
All this being said, Huntington was a political scientist of the highest rank who made invaluable contributions to his field and American public discourse more generally. He will be missed. And it makes me even sadder to think about the kind of doyen of gender theory and critical race studies Harvard will hire to replace him. RIP.
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