Jules and I have just returned from a weekend trip to Providence, R.I., visiting her best friend (since pre-school!). We had some interesting adventures while there, learned a bit about this strange little town, and listened to Bernard Lewis’ book on CD The Crisis of Islam. So I can’t quite get to a full post on all of these things tonight (I have kitchen cabinets to paint), but want to toss this out there:
Why is there such hostility toward America from Muslim extremists?
I confess to know little of such things and hope that Lewis is correct in his portrayal of the various sides involved. His status as a prof. at Princeton seems to make him pretty reliable. Lewis interacts with the complex world of Islam and shows how many extreme Muslims feel threatened by America and its culture. They see it polluting their religious purity and therefore have declared a jihad in response to the American threat.
In addition, the rest of the Arab world is weary of the West, America in particular for a host of reasons. Some of these are valid and some are not quite a reflection of reality. I hope that accurately reflects the views of Lewis. He definitely deserves a more thorough treatment that my dabbling with his material.
Yet the biggest thing that Lewis hits on (writing prior to the invasion of Iraq) is that Arabs fear America as a colonial power that wants to exploit them. In light of such fears that have been present in the Arab world, I truly tremble at the fact that American forces are in Iraq and American contractors are getting a lot of business during the occupation. I can’t say whether or not it was right to invade Iraq (though I do lean to one side of the issue over the other at this point), but I do wonder if our government truly took the perception of the US in the Arab world into serious consideration. Or is Lewis’ position that of a minority of scholars?