My favorite lines from the Great Debate are:
“Immigrants all flee to the West, not to Iran or Saudi Arabia.”
“The students in the Tiannaman Square (uprising) brought a replica of the Statue of Liberty, not of Buddha or Confucious.”
“Eastern and Islamic culture is also imperialistic. ”
“Several million people in the West died fighting, they gave their lives for freedom.”
“The West reflects on its crimes, it is self-critical, and it is stronger than ever because of it.”
“I don’t want to live in a society where I get stoned for committing adultery. I want to live in a society where I get stoned. And then commit adultery.”
“The Jewish tradition is not coming from the West.”
“I can’t go to Saudia Arabia because of my views.”
Western universal values is a contradiction in terms.”
“There is a concept of secularism in the Islamic world (but it was obtained) through tyranny.”
“(Why not) send the troops into Saudi Arabia, not Iraq?”
“It would be impossible to have this debate in an ARAB Muslim country.”
“Who would want to live in a Muslim country? As a gay man I could not live in a Muslim country.”
” (There is no) mass violence against immigrants in the West. THere is (in Islam). Why have all the Jews had to flee Arab Muslim countries so that they are now judenrein?”
Folks: Sometimes I think that debate is pointless. Ideas are far too important to be treated as a gladiatorial blood-sport. This time, we have proof of what a free exchange of ideas might accomplish, if only momentarily. When 700 + people first entered the Royal Geographical Society (700 more were turned away), they “voted” their views in advance.
Before the debate, the preliminary vote was:
DON’T KNOW 207
After the debate, the vote was:
DON’T KNOW 18
Thus, the debate persuaded people to actually change their minds. (Of course, maybe they “lied” in the beginning to allow us to draw this conclusion).
These one-liners do not capture the considerable eloquence and passion of all six speakers nor do they capture anyone’s personal “voice.” For example, Tariq Ramadan (whose one liners are to be taken tongue in cheek, preferably by him), had a righteous and intimidating tone of barely suppressed anger. It is well suited for rabble-rousing–and yet, is a far more conciliatory and considered voice than is that of many a mullah who preaches hate in the mosque.
The voices were all male; most had British accents which Americans, (as befits our ex-colonial heritage), tend to experience as authoritative and beautifully suited to the language.