GOOD THINGS COME IN THREES: It’s going to be an exciting week for the intellectually curious. Thanks to UCSB’s Arts & Lectures, Campbell Hall will host three speakers in three consecutive evenings, covering a wide subject spectrum. The first talk, on Monday, May 10, comes from New York Times political columnist David Brooks. On Tuesday, versatile European intellectual Ian Buruma will speak, and on Wednesday, Bill Nye the Science Guy will make an appearance.
Though well known as the resident conservative on the Times‘ op-ed page, Brooks is really more of a moderate conservative than, say, the Tea Party breed. Conservatives disagree with him nearly as often as liberals do, a phenomenon easily observed in the blogosphere whenever one of his columns comes out. His lecture is titled Politics in the Age of Obama, and the word on the street is that it’s not the sort of talk anyone bearing the label “conservative,” moderate or otherwise, would be expected to give about our current president.
Buruma has a new book out called Taming the Gods: Religion and Democracy on Three Continents. His talk is free to the public and is titled The Muslim Scare in Europe—Hysteria or Threat? In conversation with The Indy, Arts & Lectures associate director Roman Baratiak explained, “I first became aware of Buruma through the New York Review of Books, where he’s a frequent contributor. He’s going to be speaking about a new book he’s written that looks at this rise of Islamophobia in Europe. Is there a real threat from the Muslim population in Europe? As the economy has gotten tougher, there’s a looking-around to blame people.”
Buruma has become renowned in recent years for his observations on Islam and the world’s reaction to it, and his analyses benefit greatly from his internationalism. Dutch-born, British-fathered, Japan-educated, and New York-based, he writes articles with the kind of cool-headed sharpness associated with the global perspective. But this particular talk focuses on Europe, where fear of the Muslim population has come to the fore, and where equanimity like Buruma’s is badly needed.
“He’s written quite a bit about the Netherlands,” said Baratiak, “so he talks, for example, about Theo van Gogh, a filmmaker who was murdered in the streets by an Islamic radical. He’s also looking at the situation in Switzerland with the banning of minarets. He’s looking at the French situation with the banning of the hijab in French public schools. He’s looking to see, ‘What’s the reality of the situation?’”