I received a link to a recent interview with Bernard Lewis printed in the Wall Street Journal.
Since then, I have seen the article cited a number of times. Lewis's comments are almost entirely toned by Orientalist 'logic' and this Q & A with him was more enraging than anything else. In it, he refers to the Middle East as a bunch of one-dimensional Muslims who have no rights or education. While he mentions that the "Muslims" need not look "West" for the ideas on "liberty", he continues to make that his only point of reference by his constant comparison games. The suggestion that Middle Easterners (Arabs?) or Muslims are looking "West" for any ideas on how to run their societies and countries is quite arrogant. But more obviously, how is it that a man referred to as the "West's leading scholar of the Middle East" has glossed over the fact that the Middle East is not made up of Muslims; his generalization of (more or less) 20 countries is infantile at best. His continuation of the 'clash of civilizations' mindset is problematic and dangerous, alienating the Middle East from the rest of the world while naively lumping two sections (the general 'East' versus the general 'West') into polar opposites.
Here are some snippets of the article that I found to use particularly interpolative language, treating "us" as being so different from "them", and Orientalist in his dominant reference to medieval ideas.
who is this "we" that is going to establish anything?
and who asked "we" to do anything for "them" now?
apparently Mr. Lewis was born in 1916, maybe that's why he's stuck in the 1200's?
but what's his excuse for disregarding the rest of the Middle Easterners, those who don't have anything to do with the Quran?
wow. this makes me want to go hang out at the Dungeons.
and of-course the writer of this interview thinks that Lewis makes a "powerful point" about children of repressive homes. this is a WSJ writer saying this... now that is powerful
Lewis's idea of the Middle East reflects a region made up entirely of guys like this: