NELSON INSTITUTE DIRECTOR’S COMMENTARY POINTS TO LESSONS OF HISTORICAL EPISODE CITED IN “CONTROVERSIAL” PAPAL SPEECH

September 21, 2006

HARRISONBURG—In a commentary today for the national security resource Family Security Matters, Dr. J. Peter Pham, Director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University, argues that “amid all the metaphorical smoke arising from the, alas, very real flames of hatred that some Muslim fanatics have managed to kindle out of Pope Benedict XVI’s lecture to academics last week at the University of Regensburg, one can easily miss the lessons that might be drawn from the medieval episode recounted by the pontiff immediately before the historical quotation which has proven so incendiary.”

According to Dr. Pham, “while offense has been incited because of the emperor’s quoted condemnation of ‘holy war’ carried out in the name of Islam as ‘evil and inhuman,’ the real point perhaps is that the conversation even took place between the ‘erudite’ Manuel and his ‘educated’ Persian interlocutor.” In contrast, he asserts, “unfortunately, today, an open exchange like the one which the emperor and the qadi had is almost unthinkable—as the reactions to the pontiff’s speech underscore.”

Dr. Pham is a contributing editor of Family Security Matters, which tries to provide national security and foreign affairs information in an accessible format in order to increase civic participation and political responsibility.

Dr. Pham’s essay, entitled “What We Can Learn from a Medieval Dialogue,” can be accessed by clicking here.