Daniel Pipes: Debates London Mayor Ken Livingstone ... Clash of Civilizations

Historians in the News

It all began with a faxed letter from Ken Livingstone, mayor of London, arriving out of the blue on April 4, 2006:

I will be hosting a conference to discuss the thesis of the" clash of civilizations" first popularized by Professor Samuel Huntington's book, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. I would like to invite you to debate this thesis with me at the opening session of the conference, which will be held 10am-1pm on Saturday, 10 June 2006.

The conference was twice delayed, before finally taking place two days ago, on January 20, 2007. It was quite an event, held in the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, across the street from Westminster Abbey. The mayor told me in a private chat before the event that when he conceived of the event two years ago, he wondered if anyone would show up. He need not have worried; the Greater London Authority's website indicated there had been"an unprecedented demand" for tickets and several days in advance of the event shut the ticketing. One organizer on the mayor's staff told me that the audience numbered about five thousand and that over 150 media had registered for the conference.

The mayor and I each invited a seconder to help us make our arguments: he chose Salma Yaqoob, a councilor in Birmingham, and I chose Douglas Murray, the London writer. Due to the large crowd, the event started a half hour late but even truncated, it still went for slightly over two hours.

Despite the many journalists and video cameras, and despite the GLA having recorded and simultaneously transcribed the event, and despite two and a half days having passed since it took place, there has been – quite to my surprise – not a single media account of the debate, nor a video made available, nor a transcript. (This reminds me in a way of my University of California-Berkeley talk three years ago, which created quite a stir but had zero media coverage.)

There have, however, been a number of blog accounts – interestingly, every one of them sympathetic to Murray and myself; it would seem that the mayor's supporters took a pass on reporting the event. In alphabetical order by author, here are are the fullest and most interesting accounts that I have located (the list will be updated as needed):

(January 22, 2007)

Cross-posted at http://www.danielpipes.org/blog/724

Read entire article at Daniel Pipes blog

comments powered by Disqus