I’m pleased to see that the well-known blog burchismo has nice things to say about both David Stanway’s article about the Three Gorges and Ibn Warraq’s deconstruction of Edward Said (July 31 and August 1). Not that I comment every time someone mentions us, in fact I never do, but it seems worth mentioning Ibn Warraq (and David too of course!). If you haven’t already you should take a look at Ibn Warraq’s remarkable site, the Institute for the Secularisation of Islamic Society. Read this article on ‘honour killings’ for example, or this one, a witty and irritated look at Muslim-American intellectual life, which asks the probing question, ‘what school of Islamic jurisprudence holds that pork is haram (impermissible) not just for humans but for dogs-and not just for dogs, but for fictional ones?’
Ibn Warraq’s article on Edward Said is all the more timely, since Said has just written an article in the Guardian plaintively noting that the Pentagon pays more attention to Bernard Lewis than it does to him. His argument is not as throughly consistent as it might be. In a paragraph near the beginning he says this:
There has been so massive and calculatedly aggressive an attack on contemporary Arab and Muslim societies for their backwardness, lack of democracy, and abrogation of women’s rights that we simply forget that such notions as modernity, enlightenment, and democracy are by no means simple and agreed-upon concepts that one either does or does not find like Easter eggs in the living-room.
And in one near the end he says this:
As Roula Khalaf has argued, the region has slipped into an easy anti-Americanism that shows little understanding of what the US is really like as a society. Because the governments are relatively powerless to affect US policy toward them, they turn their energies to repressing and keeping down their own populations, with results in resentment, anger and helpless imprecations that do nothing to open up societies where secular ideas about human history and development have been overtaken by failure and frustration, as well as by an Islamism built out of rote learning and the obliteration of what are perceived to be other, competitive forms of secular knowledge.
Well never mind trying to figure out which he means, just read Ibn Warraq’s article instead.