Cheer Up, America! The Economy (and the Country) Is Much Better Off Than You Think

Barely had the counting ceased in last week's presidential election when the news took a somber turn. Two of the next day's headlines read "Back to Work, Looming Fiscal Crisis Greets Obama" and my favorite, "America has Sown the Seeds of Its Own Demise." Politicians either celebrated or decried the results, but regardless of party affiliation most warned of formidable challenges and a perilous future.

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9/11 Anniversary: Al Qaeda’s Failure on Wall Street

The World Trade Center was never seen as an overly attractive piece of architecture, but as a symbol of American economic might, it was undeniably powerful. Never mind that it was built just as New York was imploding financially in the mid-1970s; it still stood as a set of dual icons representing the economic primacy not just of the United States, but of Wall Street and the entire financial industry.

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Behind the Mosque Controversy, a Rich History of Both Coexistence and Conflict

Over the past two months, the planned construction of a Muslim cultural center in the vicinity of the World Trade Center site has become the fulcrum of an acrimonious debate about religion, freedom of expression, and the place of Islam in the United States. You would have had to be living off-the-grid somewhere not to have noticed the hundreds of opinion pieces, thousands of blogs, and considerable airtime on television and radio. As characterized by Newt Gingrich, the planned center is no less than the latest chapter in a war of civilizations: "America is experiencing an Islamist cultural-political offensive designed to undermine and destroy our civilization."

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Ports Post-Mortem

The Dubai deal is dead, and few are sorry to see it end this way. In fact, there hasn’t been this much bipartisanship since the Era of Good Feelings nearly two hundred years ago. The Republicans in the Senate and the House, led by the likes of Rep. Peter King (R- New York), have asserted their independence from an increasingly unpopular president, and the Democrats have managed simultaneously to reconnect with their populist base and seem more stringent on national security. Polls show that upwards of 70% of the American public either strongly opposed or somewhat opposed the takeover, and with the capitulation of the company, there has been no dearth of back-patting, from Capitol Hill to the blogsphere.

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The Battle Of The Experts

New crises produce new experts. A high-profile trial means that we'll see defense attorneys and prosecutors airing their differences on CNN. An election logjam means we'll hear from political consultants and campaign reporters. The events of September 11 dramatically altered the news agenda. Americans now care about Islam, and a group of scholars has emerged to explain it to them. A Princeton professor talks with Charlie Rose on PBS; a Johns Hopkins academic sits next to Dan Rather during the CBS nightly news; a Georgetown teacher entertains questions on CNN. Since the attacks of September 11, these scholars are in the spotlight, and at stake is not only whether the West can come to terms with Islam, but whether the world can prevent the destruction of suicidal extremism.

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Misunderstanding Islam

In the wake of September 11, the reading interests of the American public have changed. To a lesser extent, so have the interests of readers throughout the Western world. This may not rank as one of the more significant consequences of the attack on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, but it does reflect a new awareness on the part of millions of people--an awareness of just how ignorant they have been about Muslims.

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