Sign The Guestbook
View The Guestbook
Archived Guestbook
Submit An Article
Staff List
Privacy Policy


Weekly Features
Letter from New York
Mathew Tombers is Managing Director of Intermat, Inc., ( a television company which executive produces programs and consults with industry companies on a variety of issues. Intermat, Inc. is currently involved in approximately thirty hours of television in various stages for a variety of networks. He is one of the Executive Producers of OFF TO WAR, a ten hour series for Discovery Times and for a one hour on international adoptions for Discovery Health. He has consulted a variety of companies, including Ted Turner Documentaries, WETA, Betelgeuse Productions, and Creation Films, Lou Reda Productions as well as many others.

July 5, 2007

Post Independence Day Musings

The 4th of July has come and gone and, at least in the U.S., it was not celebrated by any major acts of destruction. Iraq and Afghanistan tick on with their deadly beat but all in all, it was a rather mellow day, allowing for time to think and breathe and, for me, read.

I finished a novel, ALI AND NINO, a small, mostly forgotten work with the name of Kurban Said on its cover. Kurban Said may have been a Jew from Baku in Azerbaijan who converted to Islam or Kurban Said may have been a combination of the Baku native and a German Baroness. The man was named Lev Nussimblam, whose life was chronicled in a biography titled, THE ORIENTALIST. From my reading, I suspect Kurban Said was really Lev Nussimblam who utilized the German Baroness as a nom de plume to allow him to publish while he was living in Nazi Germany as a Jewish Muslim.

Sound confusing? It is. However, I highly recommend both books because they give insights into the collision of East and West and how they affect the souls of individuals caught in the crush of two cultures. I recommend the reading because to understand that collision and its affects on men and women are profoundly important to understand today.

As I read the headlines of the New York Times on the 5th of July, the profound effects of this collision, this crush of cultures is chronicled in the paper. The results of this include our need to know and understand events which a generation ago would have seemed irrelevant in America. We must now watch closely events in Pakistan, where a drama between the government of Mushharraf is playing out with a group of potentially militant Muslims who have holed up in the Red Mosque. We are working to understand the new leader in Turkmenistan. How many of us even know where the country is? Yet it is important to us now.

Not since the late Dark Ages when the military might of Islam threatened to roll over all of Europe has there been such tension between East and West. In Germany, plans for a mosque in Cologne have the city divided in its feeling, with a fear of a loss of German identity simmering beneath the surface. Yet, why should Muslims living in Cologne not have a Mosque in which to worship? The discomfort there models the fears many of us feel, admitted or not. We are faced with a huge cultural force we do not understand and which seems to have found reasons to hate us at every turn, with hate turning to brutal actions, leaving men, women and children dead all over the world, from New York to Baghdad to Kabul.

In college I studied Medieval Islamic Civilization and came away with an appreciation for Islam. Were it not for their scholars in Cadiz, Seville, Baghdad and Alexandria most of Greek and Roman civilization in its written form would have been lost. Christians were busy destroying the writings of Plato, Socrates and Cicero while Islamic scholars were busy translating and preserving.

Saladin, when he conquered Damascus, left all the Christians alone and gave them the right to continue to worship. It seems Saladin’s acts of civility and generosity have been forgotten; Islam evidences a visceral hatred from some that has left us in the West stunned and afraid while saner Islamic voices still seek their voice.

A generation ago Roberts was dissecting the effects of 19th century Western hegemony in his book, THE TRIUMPH OF THE WEST, examining how Western technology and mores had swept aside all else creating, if not a complete political empire embracing the globe, a social and economic empire that was transcendent.

Ah, poor fools we are…

As Western countries occupied the globe, infusing their conquests with their technology and languages they seemed to have missed the fact our technology wasn’t necessarily welcomed and that underneath the conquered surface generations of discontent and dislike were burbling, erupting in acts now that threaten to turn our most gruesome genies against us.

It seems both sides are digging their trenches, to endure a long, painful standoff. And yet at the end of the day we are all of the same race and we have learned the gift of communication, a gift from however we perceive “God” and it is high time to use that gift for more than polemics.