Blogs > Cliopatria > Lewis Unhinged

May 17, 2007 11:51 am

Lewis Unhinged

What is it about the WSJ's editorial page that Bernard Lewis - eminent historian of the Middle East, Bringer of Light to the Darkness that is the Soul of Islam, Documenter of Clashes of Civilization - always manages to sound extra, extra stupid? With all due respect, of course. Previously, it was the Calendars. And now, the"Taliban". In Was Osama Right?, WSJ, May 16, 2007, Lewis states:
The Muslim willingness to submit to Soviet authority, though widespread, was not unanimous. The Afghan people, who had successfully defied the British Empire in its prime, found a way to resist the Soviet invaders. An organization known as the Taliban (literally,"the students") began to organize resistance and even guerilla warfare against the Soviet occupiers and their puppets. For this, they were able to attract some support from the Muslim world--some grants of money, and growing numbers of volunteers to fight in the Holy War against the infidel conqueror. Notable among these was a group led by a Saudi of Yemeni origin called Osama bin Laden.

Can I point out to the Most Illustrious Historian that Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979 but the Taliban did not appear until 1996? They were the GENERATION born during the resistance. This is not a trivial mistake - it is the same kind of deliberate elision of history that provides a narrative of Islam where the 7th century flows seamlessly into the 21st - with nary a change nor a conflict. Want an example? Just read on:

In the Muslim perception there has been, since the time of the Prophet, an ongoing struggle between the two world religions, Christendom and Islam, for the privilege and opportunity to bring salvation to the rest of humankind, removing whatever obstacles there might be in their path. For a long time, the main enemy was seen, with some plausibility, as being the West, and some Muslims were, naturally enough, willing to accept what help they could get against that enemy. This explains the widespread support in the Arab countries and in some other places first for the Third Reich and, after its collapse, for the Soviet Union. These were the main enemies of the West, and therefore natural allies. Now the situation had changed. The more immediate, more dangerous enemy was the Soviet Union, already ruling a number of Muslim countries, and daily increasing its influence and presence in others. It was therefore natural to seek and accept American help.

To restate: Since the Time of the Prophet there has been this clash of civilization between Christendom and Islam [forget that at the Time of the Prophet, Islam was as much a World Religion as the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is now] which means that Muslims hate Christians and that explains why Arabs love Nazis [who were surely not Christian] but then suddenly Soviet Commies attacked Afghanistan and those thirteen centuries of hatred just disappeared 'naturally'. That's it. NATURALLY! As natural as hating the West came the loving of American money and ammunition and that flowed naturally into killing the Americans. It is all so very natural to these cave-dwelling Muslims.

Btw, Lewis's assertion that Afghanistan beat the Soviet Union because the Muslims raised"some grants of money" is comic - nay, absurdist - genius.

How can one even provide a rational or reasoned critique of such un-varnished manure?

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Randll Reese Besch - 5/19/2007

The Nazies were Christians,Old Testament,wrath of God types.
The USA suckered the USSR to invade Afghanisan that led to the collapse of the regime.The CIA trained and equipped and trained the most extreme including one named Osama bin-Ladin.
Remember the past or we will be doomed to repeat it.See especially 1920 Iraq for a familiar scenario.

Manan Ahmed - 5/19/2007

Hey, some one else thinks Lewis is nuts


and for other reasons, even.

Chris Bray - 5/17/2007

I am counting the minutes until a shrewd commenter assails this post as postmodernist. With strong undertones of Maoism.

It's the rich intellectual give and take that makes the Internet a treasured cultural asset!

Chris Bray - 5/17/2007

You're just bitter because he nailed the truth about Iran launching those nukes on August 22. The man has proven insight, and do be sure to look for his prediction next week that Syria will be using searing eye-lasers against America's cutest puppies. On June 12! At 6:02 p.m.! Take that to the bank!

I assume his eyes spin like pinwheels.