The Humanities, Terrorism and the American Ideal

From a speech by Geoffrey Galt Harpham, Director, National Humanities Center

Bruce Cole, appeared at the inauguration of the new governor of the
State of Mississippi, one of the most deeply conservative states in the
union, to state that the humanities speak to “what makes us human:  the
legacy of our past, the ideas and principles that motivate us, and the
eternal questions that we still ponder.”  When you think about it, he
said, this was what the 9-11 bombers were really attacking, and what the
brave firemen and policemen who came to the aid of the survivors were
defending.  As Cole put it, “the values implicit in the study of the humanities are part of why we
were attacked on September 11.  The free and fearless exchange of ideas,
respect for individual conscience, belief in the power of education . .
. all these things are anathema to our country’s enemies. 
Understanding and affirming these principles is part of the battle. Today, it is especially urgent that we study American institutions,
culture and history.  Defending our democracy demands more than
successful military campaigns. It also requires an understanding of the ideals, ideas and institutions that have shaped our country.”

See full speech here: .

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