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"Notorious Quotes"

Reader comment on item: Debate in London: Radical Islam vs. Civilization

Submitted by Fredric Fastow (United States), Feb 1, 2007 at 13:02

Dear Mr. Pipes:

Thank you for posting "Radical Islam vs. Civilization" today. I agree with almost everything you say.

Your "notorious quotes," however, didn't have the effect on me that I think you meant it to have. You quoted the German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen as calling the 9/11 attacks "the greatest work of art for the whole cosmos" and the American novelist Norman Mailer as commenting that "the people who did this were brilliant."

I think you meant to criticize Stockhausen and Mailer for agreeing with the radical Islamic program and ideology. So far so good.

But what comes across to me is that you disagree with the view that those terrorist attacks of 9/11/01 were impressive human accomplishments. My view is that unfortunately they were. They were stealthy, rational, original, coordinated, cheap, deliberate, impressive and sufficient. Have you ever noticed that the airplanes used had just about the right wingspan and momentum to slice almost completely across and through a Trade Center floor?

I used to work in the World Trade Center and I escaped from Floor 66 of the North Tower on 11 September 2001. I remember the sound of the crash and the building swaying and lurching. I followed with interest the details of the terrorists' plot as they came to light.

I think one can indeed conclude that these people were extremely clever and that their accomplishment was in a sense a work of art – even a sublime work of art. It's a conclusion I arrived at reluctantly because these people were also extremely twisted and evil and I find it very upsetting to think that they got the better of us.

You say that you "respect the role of ideas." I suggest that you should also respect your enemy and not underestimate him. Perhaps Stockhausen and Mailer said what they said for the wrong reasons. But your critique of them is too easily misread as dismissing the enemy for the very qualities that make him dangerous.

Sincerely yours,

Fredric Fastow

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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