Defenders of the West

John McCreery (jlm@TWICS.COM)
Sat, 27 Jul 1996 11:46:47 +0900

In the June 20, 1996 edition of The New York Review of Books, there is a
review of _The Middle East: A Brief History of the last 2,000 Years_ and
_Cultures in Conflict: Christians, Muslims, and Jews in the Age of
Discovery, both by historian Bernard Lewis. Since some of the material
quoted from Lewis touches on multiculturalism and other recent issues in
scholarly politics, I am very interested indeed in how others will respond
to these statements:

"In setting out to conquer, subjugate, and despoil other peoples, the
Europeans were merely following the example set them by their neighbors and
predecessors and, indeed, conforming to the common practice of mankind....
The interesting questions are not why they tried, but why they succeeded
and why, having succeeded, they repented of their success as a sin. The
success was unique in modern times; the repentance, in all of recorded

"Imperialism, sexism, and racism are words of Western coinage, not because
the West invented theese evils, which are alas universal, but because the
West recognized and named and condemned them as evils and struggled
mightily--and not entirely in vain--to weaken their hold and to help their
victims. If, to borrow a phrase, Western culture does indeed 'go,'
imperialism, sexism, and racism will not go with it. More likely casualties
will be the freedom to denounce them and the effort to end them."

As a troglodyte of liberal persuasions I find these statements attractive.
How do you feel about them?

John McCreery
3-206 Mitsusawa HT, 25-2 Miyagaya, Nishi-ku
Yokohama 220, JAPAN

"And the Lord said unto Cyrus, 'Shall the clay say to him who moldest it,
what makest thou? Let the potsherd of the earth speak to the potsherd of
the earth." --An anthropologist's credo