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Having culturally internalized this self-loathing and lack of conviction, we are vulnerable to those who are filled with passionate intensity about the rightness of their beliefs and the payback due to us for our alleged historical sins such as colonialism or imperialism or globalization. And then we wonder why the jihadist considers us ripe for conquest, and destined to be subjected to the superior values of Islam.

Bruce S. Thornton is chair of the Humanities Department at California State University and the author of several books including “Searching for Joaquin: Myth and History in California.”

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