Blog

Islam Through Western Eyes takes the ‘Page 99 Test’

January 16, 2012 0 Comment

My new book, Islam Through Western Eyes: From the Crusades to the War on Terrorism, appears in a recent installment of the Page 99 Test blog. This book lovers' blog seeks to try out Ford Maddox Ford's notion that opening a random book to page 99 should give the reader the full flavor of the entire text. Read all about it here: The Page 99 Test: Islam Through Western Eyes.

On Sale Now: Islam Through Western Eyes (Columbia University Press)

December 19, 2011 0 Comment

From the book jacket: Despite the West's growing involvement in Muslim societies, conflicts, and cultures, its inability to understand or analyze the Islamic world threatens any prospect for East–West rapprochement. Impelled by one thousand years of anti-Muslim ideas and images, the West has failed to engage in any meaningful or productive way with the world of Islam. Formulated in the medieval halls of the Roman Curia and courts of the European Crusaders and perfected in the newsrooms of Fox News and CNN, this anti-Islamic discourse determines what can and cannot be said about Muslims and their religion, trapping the West in ...

OWS and the discourse of “terrorism”

November 17, 2011 1 Comment

Perhaps in another era Mayor Michael Bloomberg's assertion that "public health and safety" take absolute precedence over the First Amendment protection of free speech would have raised more than a few liberal eyebrows. In a statement issued after the mayor ordered the forcible eviction of OWS from a New York park, Bloomberg sought to justify his actions and those of his heavily-armed police as follows: “From the beginning, I have said that the City had two principal goals: guaranteeing public health and safety, and guaranteeing the protestors’ First Amendment rights. “But when those two goals clash, the health ...

‘Republic of Fear': from 9/11 to the nightly weather forecast

November 1, 2011 0 Comment

Breathless warnings of coming weather catastrophe, as witnessed this past weekend here in the mid-Atlantic, have become such as staple of daily forecasts that we often overlook just how much they are of a piece with the broader public discourse that has steadily turned America into a 'republic of fear.' The local District of Columbia government sends out a near-continuous stream of "alerts" that rarely seem to bear any resemblance to life on the ground but give the distinct impression that we are all living on borrowed time. Elsewhere, some public radio stations have taken to breaking into regular broadcasts with ...

‘Peace’ and ‘stability’ in the Middle East

February 19, 2011 1 Comment

The unrest sweeping the Mideast is a long overdue reminder of the human, economic, and political cost of U.S. policy in the region over many, many decades. Strong support for dictatorial Arab leaders, especially in Egypt and Jordan, enforced an unpopular 'peace' deal with Israel and guaranteed the sidelining of Palestinian claims. Similar support in the so-called Petro States ensured a steady and reliable flow of oil. Elsewhere, as in Bahrain, anti-democratic regimes have been propped up in exchange for valuable access by U.S. military forces. And everywhere, the globalized war on terrorism deepened existing ties between Washington and unsavory regimes ...

House of Wisdom at ‘Mind the Book’ Festial in Antwerp

February 11, 2011 1 Comment

I'll be speaking at the Mind the Book festival in Antwerp, on March 6, with a few lectures in Holland en route, including an evening at University of Leyden. The Dutch-language edition, Het Huis der Wijsheid, is doing well in Holland and Flanders.

More on the Egyptian “constitution”

February 11, 2011 0 Comment

It's worth asking whether the new-found Western fans of the Egyptian "constitution" -- and thus, of "constitutional reform" rather than wholesale reform -- have ever read the document. I suspect not, and that the Obama Administration's enthusiasm is grounded in the idealized American experience on the one hand, and hard-nosed U.S. geo-political interests on the other. Hiding behind the need for a "legal" transition, by which they mean to keep control in the safe hands of Mubarak's aides and cronies, is an attempt to prevent the Egyptian people from truly getting their say over the turn of events. Proof, if any is ...

Egypt, America, and “constitution” — Updated

February 10, 2011 0 Comment

Americans love their Constitution, and not without reason. It has for the most part provided a sturdy foundation on which to rest the modern world's first democratic republic, and is still going strong -- despite some bumps and bruises along the way -- more than 200 years on. The institutions it created have so far proven self-regulating, like the Enlightenment-era notions of physics that helped inspire the original document, and they retain their legitimacy in the eyes of the American public. The same cannot be said for the Egyptian version, which has effectively enshrined an authoritarian regime that rests on repression ...

Coming publication: The Western ‘idea’ of Islam, from the Crusades to the war on terrorism

November 23, 2010 0 Comment

I am pleased to report that Columbia University Press will be publishing my new book, exploring 1000 years of anti-Islam discourse. Drawing on the 'archaeology' of Michel Foucault, I argue that the Western discourse of Islam was created in the run-up to the First Crusade at a time of complete ignorance of the Muslims. This same discourse has persisted, remarkably unchanged, to the present day and shapes the way we think, speak, and write about Islam and the Muslims. Special attention is directed at the 'hot-button' issues of Islam and violence, Islam and women, and Islam and science/modernity. This book is a ...

The ‘Othering’ of the President

November 4, 2010 1 Comment

The republican tsunami, like many disasters both natural and man-made, seems to have provoked some misdirected soul searching, this time on the part of President Obama and his White House team. The president took responsibility for the shellackin' at the polls but failed to draw the right lesson: it was not his inability to trumpet his policy successes (of which saving the capitalist system was perhaps most notable) or to explain just how bad things might have been without federal intervention; rather, it was his consistent defenselessness against being painted into an extremist corner from Inauguration Day onward. The genius of the ...