Normally I try to limit my excursions into politics to items that have some relationship to finance, but I can’t resist certain juicy stories. And this one comes from an economics blog, Brad DeLong’s Semi-Daily Journal, so I suppose I have an excuse.
The specter of an entire room of grown men giving a standing ovation to the patent nonsense below is really astounding. Did someone spike the wine? Oh no, I forgot. This is the American Enterprise Institute listening to one of its own.
And the history citation below shows that it was the Crusaders, and not the Muslims, who created the bad blood between Christianity and Islam.
This is DeLong’s post, “Bernard Lewis Makes His Bid for the Stupidest-Man-Alive Prize:”
Has Bernard Lewis always been this stupid, and did I just not notice?
Washington Wire – WSJ.com: Bernard Lewis drew a standing ovation from a packed house of conservative luminaries Wednesday night in a lecture that described Muslim migration to Europe as an Islamic attack on the West and defended the Crusades as “a late, limited and successful imitation of the jihad” that spread Islam across much of the globe. Lewis gave the nearly hour-long speech at the annual black-tie dinner of the American Enterprise Institute after receiving the group’s Irving Kristol Award. Among the attendees were Vice President Dick Cheney, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton and ex-Pentagon official Richard Perle. Notably absent was I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby….
The 90-year-old Lewis, seen by some as the intellectual godfather behind the administration’s decision to invade Iraq, warned in his lecture that the West — particularly Europe — was losing its fervor and conviction in the face of an epochal challenge from the Islamic world. The Islamic world, he said, was now attacking the West using two tactics: terrorism and migration….
Lewis, author of “The Arabs in History” and “Islam and the West”, among many other books, also gave a ringing endorsement for the ill-fated Crusades, which spanned two centuries starting in 1095, when various European armies tried to regain the “Holy Land” for Christendom. –Neil King Jr.
The better judgment on the crusades was given by a much smarter and wiser man, the late Steven Runciman:
A History of the Crusades: Volume III: The Kingdom of Acre and the Later Crusades (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 0521347726): Seen in the perspective of history, the whole Crusading movement was a vast fiasco…. The Crusades had nothing to do with… access to the stored up learning of the Muslim world….. [I]t was Sicily rather than the lands of Outremer that provided a meeting place for Arab, Greek, and Western culture…. The Crusades were not the only cause for the decline of the Muslim world… [but] the intrusive Frankish state was a festering sore that the Muslims could never forget. As long as it distracted them, they could never wholly concentrate on other problems.
But the real harm done by the Crusades was subtler… the effect of the Holy War on the spirit of Islam. Any religion that is based on an exclusive Revelation is bound to show some contempt for the unbeliever. But Islam was not intolerant in its early days…. The Holy War begun by the Franks ruined these good relations. The savage intolerance shown by the Crusaders was answered by growing intolerance among the Muslims…. By the time of the Mamelukes, the Muslims were as narrow as the Franks…. The Muslims enclosed themselves behind the curtain of their faith; and an intolerant faith is incapable of progress.
The harm done by the Crusades to Islam was small in comparison with that done by them to Eastern Christendom…