One of the highlights of Warraq’s book is his fascinating discussion of European authors and scholars whose less than fully informed infatuation with Islam yielded benign images that helped shape modern Western perceptions of Muslim culture and belief. Both Voltaire and Gibbon, for example, admired Islam’s lack of a priestly class and its supposed rationalism and enlightenment; Carlyle, who had a soft spot for tyrants, admired the Muslim predilection for strong leaders. These and others found Islam a useful stick with which to beat Christianity. Warraq, in short, strongly rejects Western “orientalism”—but unlike Edward Said, who rejected it on the grounds that outsiders’ interpretations of Arab and Islamic culture are by their very nature culturally biased and thus illegitimate, Warraq rejects it for its romantic refusal to look squarely at uncomfortable realities.
Fallaci followed this book with La Forza del Raggione (The Force of Reason), in which she charged that the left, like Islam, “regards itself as kissed by a god of Goodness and Truth. Like Islam it never admits guilt or error. . . . It is no coincidence that ninety-five percent of the Italians who convert to Islam come from the left. . . .”
At the center of her[Bat Ye'or's] story is something called the Euro-Arab Dialogue (EAD), a joint initiative of the EU and Arab governments whose meetings are closed, proceedings unpublished, and activities thus “shielded from scrutiny and democratic control.” One result of the EAD’s efforts has been the institutionalization, in European media, schools, and universities, of a strict political correctness that has bred a reflexive antagonism toward the U.S. and Israel and that brooks no criticism of Arab governments or immigrants. Europeans, writes Ye’or, have unwittingly endured “thirty years of constant indoctrination,” and while most of them “harbor no hate,” a culture of animosity toward America, Jews, and Israel has indeed been thrust upon them and has, despite “the enormous gap between Eurocrat theorists and the European population,” had an inevitable effect, as manifested, for example, in the massive anti-American demonstrations that have taken place in European cities in recent years.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
The Leftist-Islamic Alliance
Bruce Bawer has put together an overview of the more reasoned anti-Islamic polemicists in his Hudson Review essay Crisis in Europe. Some select quotations: