Thursday, November 26, 2009

Ignorance mixed with bigotry=Caldwell

"The most egregious examples of Caldwell's aliens are Muslims, because, as he sees it, they are less susceptible to European cultural influences than other immigrant groups such as Slavs, Sikhs, Hindus, non-Muslim Africans, and African-Caribbeans....Nor does Caldwell exhibit any familiarity with the rich literature describing the spread of Islam in peripheral cultures such as sub-Saharan Africa or South Asia, where a religion originating in Arabia proved every bit as adept as Christianity in adjusting to local conditions. He has similarly failed to familiarize himself, even superficially, with the vast literature charting the encounter between Islam and modern Western society. In his review of Western attitudes toward Islam he prefers to celebrate the prejudices of writers such as Ernest Renan (in 1883) or Hilaire Belloc (in 1938) than to engage with significant Muslim thinkers such as Muhammad Iqbal, Fazlur Rahman, Muhammed Arkoun, or Abdullahi an-Naim who might challenge his essentialist assumptions. Caldwell's "Islam" owes more to tabloid headlines than to responsible research. To borrow a phrase of Philip Lewis, it exemplifies the need for greater religious literacy in the post–September 11 era." (thanks "Ibn Rushd)