Bernard Lewis

The great Bernard Lewis is 100! Two pieces are worth reading: his essay The New Anti-Semitism and a review of Lewis’ memoir from whence the quotes below are from. The regressive left is in denial that at most Edward Said’s Orientalism is only making a socio-psychological claim about all self-conscious cultures and not as he would have us believe that only occidental cultures are inherently imperialistic. The Chinese, Japanese and Moorish conquests are obvious counter-examples.

Academic criticism of Lewis’ work came overwhelmingly from the left, starting with Edward Said’s 1978 polemic Orientalism, “in which,” Lewis writes, “Said imputed to Orientalists a sinister role as part of the imperialist domination and exploitation of the Islamic world by the West. In particular, he imputed to me an especially sinister role as what he called the leader of the Orientalists.” With a few strokes in this present book, Lewis severs Said’s head and holds it up to show that it is empty.

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His earliest writings, he concedes, betrayed a Marxist influence—what he calls his own intellectual version of “measles and chicken pox,” a juvenile disease he outgrew in time.