Voice from the Commonwealth
Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams

Saturday, August 10, 2002

The Financial Times has lunch with Bernard Lewis.

I ask Lewis if he was surprised by September 11. "I was surprised that they were able to do something on such a scale, and with such meaningless ferocity," he says. "I was also enormously impressed with the civilised response of the American public in general, the concern not to condemn Islam as a whole."

He is less impressed by the quality of the discourse among the television gasbags: "As a specialist on Islam, I find myself disturbed by all the nonsense being talked, by both Muslims and non-Muslims. On the one hand, you have people who would have you believe that Islam is a bloodthirsty religion bent on world destruction. On the other hand, you have people telling us Islam is a religion of love and peace - rather like the Quakers, but less aggressive. The truth is in its usual place."

I guess after all the years of having to endure the denunciations of Said and others Lewis takes a jab:

"There is a certain melancholy pleasure in having been right when so many people were wrong. I obviously didn't predict an atrocity like this, but I had been saying for a long time that something had gone radically wrong in the Arab world and that there was a growing hostility to the west that was likely to express itself violently."

During lunch a chance encounter withTom Friedman who's daughter is thinking of attending Princeton makes for some intersting conversation. Lewis goes on to make the Suadis something a little more domestic...."Imagine, if the Ku Klux Klan or Aryan Nation obtained total control of Texas and had at its disposal all the oil revenues, and used this money to establish a network of well-endowed schools and colleges all over Christendom peddling their particular brand of Christianity. This is what the Saudis have done with Wahhabism. The oil money has enabled them to spread this fanatical, destructive form of Islam all over the Muslim world and among Muslims in the west. Without oil and the creation of the Saudi kingdom, Wahhabism would have remained a lunatic fringe in a marginal country."

< email | 8/10/2002 04:32:00 AM | link

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