'The Tyrannies Are Doomed'
Wall Street Journal / BARI WEISS
04-Apr-2011 (3 comments)

'What Went Wrong?" That was the explosive title of a December 2001
book by historian Bernard Lewis about the decline of the Muslim world.
Already at the printer when 9/11 struck, the book rocketed the professor
to widespread public attention, and its central question gripped
Americans for a decade.

Now, all of a sudden, there's a new question on American minds: What Might Go Right?

To find out, I made a pilgrimage to the
professor's bungalow in Princeton, N.J., where he's lived since 1974
when he joined Princeton's faculty from London's School of Oriental and
African Studies.

Two months shy of his 95th birthday,
Mr. Lewis has been writing history books since before World War II. By
1950, he was already a leading scholar of the Arab world, and after
9/11, the vice president and the Pentagon's top brass summoned him to
Washington for his wisdom.

"I think that the tyrannies are
doomed," Mr. Lewis says as we sit by the windows in his library, teeming
with thousands of books in the dozen or so languages he's mastered.
"The real question is what will come instead."

For Americans who have watched
protesters in Tunisia, Egypt, Iran, Libya, Bahrain and now Syria stand
up against their regimes, it has been difficult not to be intoxicated by
this revolutionary moment. Mr. Lewis is "delighted" ... >>>

recommended by IranFirst




by LoverOfLiberty on

fussygorilla: "I also remembe his utter failure in debate with Edward Sa'id PBH."

Well, here are a few words concerning your apparently beloved Edward Said and his take on so-called Orientalism:

"Edward Said was an outstanding example of an intellectual who condemned the West root and branch while taking every advantage of the privileges and rewards it has to offer. In its dishonesty and exercise of double standards, his was truly a cautionary tale of our times. Born in Jerusalem in 1935, he laid claims to be a Palestinian, dispossessed by Zionist Jews, and therefore an archetypal Third World victim. In sober fact, he was the son of an American father, a member of a prosperous Christian family with extensive business interests in Egypt. Undoubtedly an intelligent and civilized man with one side of his personality, he became a professor of comparative literature at Columbia University.
Yet with his other side, he wrote speeches for Yasser Arafat in the 1970s, and was far and away the most vociferous advocate for the Palestine Liberation Organization. Although he knew the history of persecution that lay behind Zionism, he could not accept Israel as anything but an injustice that had to be put right in bloodshed. On the pretext of victimhood, but from the safety of New York, he urged others to kill and be killed. When Arafat professed (falsely as it turned out) to be willing to make peace with Israel, Said broke with him, insisting on armed struggle. At the end of his life, this professor of a subject within the humanities was photographed throwing a stone from Lebanese soil against the boundary with Israel.

The contradictory aspects of the man came together in Orientalism, a book Said published in 1978. The thesis was that every Westerner who had ever studied or written about the Middle East had done so in bad faith. From ancient Greece through the medieval era to the present, the work of historians, grammarians, linguists, and even epigraphists had been “a rationalization of colonial rule.” There was no colonial rule in the lifetimes of the majority of these scholars, so they must have been “projecting” what was to come. For Said, these highly eclectic individuals were all engaged in a long-drawn conspiracy, international but invisible, to establish the supremacy of the West by depicting an East not only inferior but static and incapable of change. At bottom, here was the vulgar Marxist concept that knowledge serves only the interest of the ruling class. Said had also latched on to Michel Foucault, with his proposition—modishly avant-garde at the time—that there is no such thing as truth, but only “narratives” whose inventor is putting across his point of view. This reduces facts to whatever anyone wishes to make of them.

Omitting whatever did not fit, misrepresenting evidence, and making unwarranted generalizations, Said committed the very sin for which he was accusing Westerners—of concocting a “narrative” to serve his purposes. As he summed up: “Every European, in what he could say about the Orient, was consequently a racist, an imperialist.” The “narrative” shaped a conclusion particularly crucial to Said. Europeans included Jews and later Israelis, and they were therefore integral to the conspiracy to do down Orientals and ensure that Palestinians were prime victims of racism and imperialism. Palestinian violence and terror was therefore natural and legitimate.

Orientalism owed its éclat to fashion. Here was someone within a prestigious American university making the nationalist case in an approved high-brow idiom that the West was really to blame for the misfortunes of Arabs and Muslims, including harm they had done to themselves. The timing of the book was also propitious. The balance of power was already tipping against the West, and in favor of Muslims. The public was ready for instruction about the encounter with Islam, this rather shadowy novelty suddenly looming on the horizon. The whole range of intellectual guilt-mongers and masochists, stretching out to Middle East lecturers, area specialists, experts of one kind and another, and not least those with anti-American and anti-Jewish prejudices, eagerly promoted Said their champion and hero. In these circles, Said earned further immediate praise by welcoming Ayatollah Khomeini’s Islamic revolution because it was anti-American in principle and practice. Universities instituted courses deferring to Said, who was invited to present his bright new “narrative” to one prestigious audience after another. Orientalist, the portmanteau term for every Westerner with a scholarly, literary, or artistic interest in the East, is now firmly in the almanac of curse-words. Said succeeded in widening animus against Israel by folding it into generalized anti-Westernism. More than that, he had politicized the study of the Middle East in its manifold aspects."


(If you ask me, Said had no more of a monopoly on objective truth than any other single historian, including Lewis. And, if you ask me, it is rather perverse to put so much faith in the words of any single historian, whether it be Lewis or Said or anyone else for that matter.)


Bernard Lewis!!!!!!!!!!

by fussygorilla on

The most vicious well-known British Ziionist Orientalist the West has ever known. I remember him as a visiting professor lecturing us in a graduate class at Indiana Univeristy years ago when his book "arabs in hisotry' was one of our texts.  He has always been an MI6 spy, serving the imperialist Britain and ALWAYS distorting, misinforming, and degrading the Muslim world.  I also remembe his utter failure in debate with Edward Sa'id PBH.  He is now an old senile imperialist who can ONLY be sought after for his outrageous opinion on the Middle East by Americans who are the most ignorant about the rest of the world.  And here, the self-hating Iranians repeat what the Wall Street J. publishes about him just because they despise Iran and Iranians.


Darius Kadivar

No they Ain't ...

by Darius Kadivar on