Allen Hall hosts author, playwright

Carol Matteucci

Carol Matteucci

By Nate Sandstrom

Author, playwright, filmmaker and political commentator Tariq Ali spoke Monday night as Allen Hall’s guest-in-residence for the week of Oct. 18.

To truly understand the events of 9-11, Ali said, it is important to understand history.

“It is not that history repeats itself, but it echoes,” Ali said. “9-11 was the echo of the war in Afghanistan.”

Ali was born in Pakistan and exiled in the late ’60s for his opposition to the country’s military dictatorship. He works on the editorial board of the New Left Review, an international progressive journal. He attended Oxford University.

Ali said fundamentalists that had received support from the United States during the Cold War were angered when their support came to an end with the collapse of the Soviet Union.

This, coupled with the United States’ entry into the first Gulf War, motivated Islamic fundamentalists to fight to keep the influences of Western Christianity out of the Arab world.

Ali said many people do not know the United States’ historical role of imperialism in the world, and this leads to ineffective foreign policies.

Ali spent much of the time conversing with the audience. One member asked Ali how he thought people could increase their knowledge of historical events.

Ali replied that there is no easy answer. If it was as easy as teaching people to read books, he said, all we would have to do is have people read more.

“An overwhelming majority of people learn through their own experience,” Ali said. He used soldiers who returned from Vietnam opposed to the war as an example.

Allen Hall’s Unit One program is an attempt to create a small liberal arts college environment at a large university, said Program Coordinator Laura Haber.

The program hosts guests-in-residence during the school year. The speakers live in an Allen Hall guest apartment for about one week. The program allows students to have an ongoing discussion with the guests.

“Each guest has a lot to offer students. They are well-known and knowledgeable in their field,” she said.

Memtem and Serkan Sener, a married couple who are University students, said they frequently attend the guests-in-residence programs.

“The subjects bring us out,” said Memtem Sener. She said there were many different topics that they don’t hear in other places.

Ali will be in Allen Hall through Thursday. He has speeches scheduled at 8 p.m. for the next three days.