From a review of Ibn Warraq's Defending the West: A Critique of Edward Said’s Orientalism. Said's thinking, which has destroyed departments of Middle Eastern Studies throughout the world by turning scholars into activists (which means they do both things badly - as do journalists who propogate Pallywood fictions), is finally coming under consistent attack. The latest is this book by Ibn Warraq, the review of which includes the quote below. To which should be added:
Warraq then turns to Said’s misrepresentation of the West as a xenophobic culture, fearful of the “Other” and cultural difference. Warraq explodes this canard by identifying what he calls the “three golden threads” woven through Western culture since the time of the Greeks: rationalism, universalism, and self-criticism. As Warraq argues, Western intellectual curiosity has driven an interest in other cultures and peoples and created a magnificent edifice of scholarship formalizing that interest. The Western notion of a universal human nature reinforced this intellectual openness to other cultures. And self-criticism has been the engine of the West’s improvement, leading to the rejection of traditional practices that were unjust or inefficient, as Warraq shows with his discussion of the British Empire’s war on slavery. In fact, the West’s most trenchant critics, Said included, have always been Westerners.
It is the absence of these golden threads, Warraq believes, not Western crimes abetted by “Orientalism,” that accounts for the backwardness and stagnation of the Muslim Middle East—a region that with few exceptions lacks interest in other peoples, adheres unthinkingly to fossilized traditions, and is unable to look critically at its failures. These characteristics have fostered a paranoid cult of victimhood that blames the West for the failures of Middle Eastern regimes. Said’s work encourages such thinking: “In cultures already immune to self-criticism,” Warraq writes, “Said helped Muslims and particularly Arabs, perfect their already well-developed sense of self-pity.”
Warraq, however, is honest enough to accept that his three golden threads have a tendency to degenerate into dangerous weaknesses. Rationalism becomes scientism, universalism becomes a flabby tolerance that disguises a lack of conviction, and self-criticism becomes an irrational self-hatred. Add multiculturalism’s sentimental adulation of a non-Western “Other,” superior to the money-grubbing Westerner, and the self-loathing West has essentially validated the jihadists’ reasons for wanting to destroy it.
To which should be added: