Up the Academy

|

Reason writers around town: At the Daily Star, I revisit the circular ruins of the academic debate on the Middle East—in particular the rise of the Pipes/Lewis/Ajami wing over the MESA faction, or whatever you want to call them. One thing I should have noted in considering whether the MESA types may be coming back in from the cold was the rise of Noah Feldman, who seems pretty close to the John L. Esposito school in mainstream Middle East studies.

And if none of the above makes any sense to you, you should probably be happy about that.

By the way, my man Pipes made an appearance on LBC the other night, and apparently made no effort to "fine tune the message" for the local audience. As one of my neighbors described it: "All he said was, 'You Arabs are all stupid. You should do everything we tell you to do.'" I think he was quoting Pipes with less than 100 percent accuracy, but I get the impression it didn't go over too well. Sadly, I'm stuck without telly, so I can't say for sure.

NEXT: How To Be A Newsmaker

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. R.C. Dean,

    Which essentially is another way of ignorning the Holocaust and the other host of lovlies that the “West” (given the term’s fluidity over the last few hundred years, I put it in qoutes) gave to the world. WWII certainly ended any pretension that the “West” is somehow morally superior to any other portion of the planet. And before you go on about the U.S. stopped the Nazis, one wonders why the U.S. lacked the moral clarity in 1938 (as both the U.K. and France did as well) that it somehow gained in 1944.

  2. Which essentially is another way of ignorning the Holocaust

    More simplistic moral equilvalence from the ignorant and uneducated, eh? This must be the Hit & Run forums. I hate to be the one to break this shocking news to you, but genocide is older than humanity itself. It’s also unclear what you mean when you say that the West “gave” the Holocaust to the world, considering that the Holocaust took place entirely within the West. What made it so shocking was not the extermination of a hated minority — even then, that sort of thing was old news — but the fact that it happened in the West. The general opinion at the time was that we’d outgrown that sort of thing.

    and the other host of lovlies that the “West” […] gave to the world

    A short list of concepts invented in the West, that have yet to catch on in the Arab Muslim world:

    (1): Democracy
    (2): Capitalism
    (3): The rule of law
    (4): Gender equality
    (5): Racial equality
    (6): The idea that slavery is wrong
    (7): The idea that genocide is wrong

    Sure, the West (parts of it, anyway) killed millions of Jews. The important difference is that the West condemns the people who carried out the slaughter, while the Muslim world has a tendency to either (a) deny it ever happened or (b) wish that they’d finished the job.

    The faster Western ideas spread, and the faster they eradicate the “traditional” ideas in their way, the better.

  3. Dan,

    Its not an issue of moral equivalence; its a demonstration of a lack of superiority. Its a demonstration that the “West” (again however one wishes to conveniently define said term) is just as likely as any other culture to slaughter people en masse. BTW, seeing that the West slaughtered well over 100 million in the 20th century (what petty tyrants like Saddam do is child’s play), I would say that the issue of moral equivalence isn’t quite what you thought it was. And this doesn’t look at the carnage created by a particular European ideology in areas outside Europe (for example, in China).

    As to your laundry list, let me remind you that the “rule of law” was not invented in the “West,” but in the area we now call the middle east.

    “Western nations” don’t practice “democracy” either; they are largely republics or constitutional monarchies which are run by elected and appointed officials (in fact most of the true democracies were slave holding city-states and mini-nations).

    As to gender and racial equality, given that these concepts as applied are as new as the 1960s, the West has very little to brag about.

    I’ll give you slavery, however the fact that it was readily defended by every nation, political, social and religious institution ever created and largely accepted as a proper means by which to garner the labor of others in the “West” until the advent of Quaker (meaning a period of several thousand years) dissent against the institution, doesn’t paint such a rosey picture.

    Regarding genocide, writings concerning its wrongful nature date back thousands of years and are present in many cultures (SEE Sun Tzu).

    As to capitalism, that was also not invented in the “West”; though it did end up being taken to a further extent by it. If you think capitalism was created in the “West” then its obvious that you know nothing about the capital markets that spawned SE Asia, what is current day Indonesia, India and China prior to the arrival of the Europeans. The sole reason the Europeans came there was not to create markets, but to exploit the lucrative ones which already existed there. They didn’t create them, they took the existing markets over.

    “The important difference is that the West condemns the people who carried out the slaughter…”

    Which explains the West’s indifference to the genocide in Rwanda, Cambodia and East Timor.

    Let me provide you with my own laundry list.

    * Soviet Communism

    * The English, French and German religious wars

    * Mass starvation in India (tens of million dead; Britain’s holocaust in other words)

    * The Crusades

    * The Atlantic Slave Trade & The Slave Regimes It Fed

    * Rampant anti-semitism (pogroms throughout most Europe)

    * Genocide in the Americas (by the US as well)

  4. “All he said was, ‘You Arabs are all stupid. You should do everything we tell you to do.'”

    Well, when it comes to things like economics and politics, it is hard to argue that the Arabs have quite the history of failure, and should maybe look to the more successful societies, like ours, for guidance.

  5. Damn…seeing the title of this post, I expected the phrase “Say it again!” to show up somewhere. Or perhaps “…turd in a punchbowl.”

  6. I’ll make an attempt to get the discussion
    back on topic.

    I think that the patterns described in the
    post are not as unusual as they are made out
    to be.

    Under the Clinton administration, the first
    Secretary of Labor was Robert Reich. He is
    a professional economist, but not one with
    much of an academic record. No one in the
    club would put him at or near the top of a
    list of great labor economists. However,
    he has written a bunch of popular books,
    and been on TV a lot, and he had a particular
    view that appealed to some of the Clinton
    people. In this sense, he is in much the
    same mold as other economists with weak
    academic records but strong public profiles
    such as Lester Thurow (“less than thorough”,
    as he was called in my graduate school days
    at Chicago) and John Kenneth Galbraith.

    Ironically, the first two chief economists
    at the Department of Labor in the Clinton
    administration were Larry Katz of Harvard
    and Alan Krueger of Princeton, who are at
    at the top of the heap of academic labor
    economists. My impression is that their
    relations with their boss, Mr. Reich, were
    not always smooth.

    Jeff

  7. You can’t just graft the practices of one culture onto another. If Middle Eastern, Muslim societies are to achieve democracy, it will have to be an Islamic democracy. What does that mean? I don’t know, I’m not from there.

  8. “* Soviet Communism”

    Isn’t Communism (and Fascism, as well) aspects of anti-Western ideology?

    “* The Crusades”

    The Crusades predate such important aspects of the West as the Age of Reason. I’d consider Crudader Europe to be “pre-Western” in a cultural sense. In any case, the Crusades were a response to an Islamic invasion.

    “* Genocide in the Americas (by the US as well)”

    I am not aware of any US acts of genocide; certainly murder was committed (by both sides in the Indian wars), but I know of no acts that rise to the level of genocide.

    Even in the Spanish conquest of the Carribean and Mexico, I think the acts fall short of genocide.

  9. “As to capitalism, that was also not invented in the “West”; ”

    Is capitalism an invention? I thought it was something that just came about when people were free to trade?

  10. WE ALL LOVE YOU MIRA YOU ARE THE BEST.

    LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE
    YOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOU
    MIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRA.

  11. WE ALL LOVE YOU MIRA YOU ARE THE BEST.

    LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE
    YOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOU
    MIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRA.

  12. WE ALL LOVE YOU MIRA YOU ARE THE BEST.

    LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE
    YOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOU
    MIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRA.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.