Why do they hate us?May 31st, 2006 by nick
This highly educational talk by Bernard Lewis, the grand old man of Western knowledge and understanding of Islam, and the author of the term “clash of civilizations”, has the answer to the question, “why do they hate us?”. (hat tip: Dr. Sanity) The war between Christendom and Islam has been going on, more or less continuously, for centuries. But 82 years ago, Christendom achieved a final victory. The last caliph was deposed in Istanbul in 1924, and the caliphate was divided up among the victorious Western allies. The mass of people in “Christendom”, including myself, are ignorant of and blase about this history, but, in the Muslim world, even illiterate people are very much aware of it. When the President called this “the long war”, he wasn’t kidding.
Lewis makes the point that Christianity and Islam are unique among the world’s religions. He says:
“These two religions, and as far as I am aware, no others in the world, believe that their truths are not only universal but also exclusive. They believe that they are the fortunate recipients of God’s final message to humanity, which it is their duty not to keep selfishly to themselves like the Jews or the Hindus, but to bring to the rest of mankind, removing whatever barriers there may be in the way. This, between two religiously defined civilizations, which Christendom was at that time, with the same heritage, the same self-perception, the same aspiration, and living in the same neighborhood inevitably led to conflict, to the real clash of rival civilizations aspiring to the same role, leading to the same hegemony, each seeing it as a divinely ordained mission.“
Nowadays, to most people in the West, this just sounds crazy. Except for a small minority of completely peaceful evangelicals and Mormons, none of us care about converting the entire world to Christianity. But things look very different from the Islamic side of the war. They may not be under attack from fervent Christians anymore, but they are indisputably under a kind of attack from Western post-Christian culture, economics, and politics. For many Muslims, not all, but many, nothing has really changed in their perception of the long war. When Osama Bin Laden says, “For more than 80 years we have been suffering humiliation”, he doesn’t have to spell it out for the Muslim audience. They know exactly what he’s talking about. Here in the West, we didn’t even know we were at war until 9/11, and even now many people don’t believe it.
We think they’re insane, and they think we’re corrupt. I think we’re both right, but personally I’ll take decadence over homicidal insanity any day.