During Dalia Mogahed’s last lecture at Chautauqua, a military coup was seizing power in her country of birth.
When Dalia Mogahed took the Amphitheater stage twice last year, she remained calm and objective, bringing thoughtfulness, modesty and erudition to her display of a breadth of knowledge about Arab and American views of each other.
Week Four of the 2014 Chautauqua Institution season kicks off on Saturday, July 12, celebrating the weekly themes with lectures, art and live performances.
The title for this week’s lecture theme, “The Next Greatest Generation,” suggests optimism and boundless potential, for my peers and me. What we really crave, however, is candor. Chautauqua is a place that thrives on messages of hopeful promise. But what made this week’s presentations from Chris Hayes and Paula Kahumbu so compelling was their honesty about the scope of the challenges that our generation faces, be it the specific case of Kenya, facing relentless greed of poachers and the markets they serve, or the broader decline of trust in major institutions within the United States. Hayes and Kahumbu both attempt to speak truth to a power structure that they realize is deeply entrenched, and it is this context that made their presentations so fully credible. Kahumbu’s exhaustive campaign to end elephant poaching — from cleverly redesigned currency to ubiquitous receipt stamps and billboards — was an object lesson in how fearless and ambitious young people must be if they want to mount a serious challenge to market-driven greed and the political passivity it engenders. Dalia Mogahed also provided some inspiration grounded in reality when she spoke of the courage of Muslim youth in demanding a voice in their societies’ governance — but against a backdrop of social neglect, born of greed and complacency from the oligarchies that ruled both their governments and their economies (which may sound familiar to those who heard Hayes as well.)
For the second time in less than three years, the course of modern Egyptian political history was altered this week by seismic events which raise crucial questions for American policy makers. When the Egyptian military responded to widespread protests and ousted the year-old government of President Mohamed Morsi and leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, The New York Times ran a banner headline. Dalia Mogahed, an Egyptian-born expert on the Middle East, was on the grounds at the time, making two Amphitheater appearances and consulting with the Department of Education on the 2014 Week Four program on the Egyptian experience. She had travelled to Chautauqua Institution directly from Cairo, where her husband and young sons were still visiting with relatives. Comfortably sitting on a Chautauqua porch before she left the grounds, she spoke with the Daily.
At Friday’s morning lecture, a liberal television host and magazine editor, a researcher on Muslim-American studies, a major in the United States Army and the vice president of Google[x] gathered on the Amphitheater stage to talk about what it means to be part of “The Next Greatest Generation.”
Chris Hayes, Dalia Mogahed, James Smith and Megan Smith have all spoken in some capacity at Chautauqua Institution this week.
Hayes, who moderated the panel, began the conversation by asking James how he sees the past generation’s emphasis on service in the military in relation to the next generation’s service in the military.
Throughout the week, several men and women have offered their unique perspectives on “The Next Greatest Generation.” Vice President of Google[x] Megan Smith spoke about the “creative collaboration age” wrought by technology and the Internet, and James Smith of the United States Army explained the potential role of the “military millennial” generation in rehabilitating America’s value system. Dalia Mogahed, senior research advisor at the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, lectured on U.S. engagement in the Islamic world, and political commentator Chris Hayes outlined meritocracy’s role in what he called the “fail decade.”
At 10:45 a.m. today in the Amphitheater, all four lecturers will share their different perspectives at a special panel discussion.
Three days after the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001, Dalia Mogahed and her husband were contemplating whether or not to go to Friday evening services. Unsure of what, or who, would be waiting for them, they entered the mosque.
But instead of finding an angry mob or anti-Muslim protestors, the mosque was packed full of non-Islamic Americans who were there to support the Muslim place of worship.
Mogahed, the former executive director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies and current CEO of Mogahed Consulting, delivered Wednesday’s morning lecture at 10:45 a.m. in the Amphitheater. In keeping with the week’s theme, she discussed how the Arab Spring can inspire the next generation to empower themselves.
I met Judy Carter, the comedian, at a women’s leadership conference in Omaha, Neb., last spring, where we were both speakers. She was there to be funny, and I was there to be serious. I liked Judy immediately because she pulled no punches.
“I’m excited to hear your talk,” she declared almost immediately after I introduced myself. “I’ve never heard a Muslim woman speak in public before. I guess I associate Muslim women with being silent and submissive.”
Come on, Judy, tell me how you really feel.
Dalia Mogahed was pressed for time. Speaking to the Daily on a satellite phone from Cairo, she hadn’t seen her husband in a couple of weeks. He was just landing at the airport and would be with her soon. So time was limited.
That’s life these days for Mogahed, who will present her provocative views on U.S. engagement with the Islamic world at 10:45 a.m. today in the Amphitheater. Her appearance will highlight what certainly appears to be one of the most critical challenges facing “The Next Greatest Generation,” and she will join this week’s other speakers in a Friday morning Amphitheater panel to review the week and look ahead.