August 10, 2002
MY LUNCH WITH BERNARD LEWIS: Well, actually, it's Michael Steinberger's lunch, but it's still worth reading. Excerpt:
But Lewis is just warming up. Talk next turns to the Saudis. "Imagine," says Lewis, "if the Ku Klux Klan or Aryan Nation obtained total control of Texas and had at its disposal all the oil revenues, and used this money to establish a network of well-endowed schools and colleges all over Christendom peddling their particular brand of Christianity. This is what the Saudis have done with Wahhabism. The oil money has enabled them to spread this fanatical, destructive form of Islam all over the Muslim world and among Muslims in the west. Without oil and the creation of the Saudi kingdom, Wahhabism would have remained a lunatic fringe in a marginal country."
Indeed. Except, of course, that if Texas were involved Europeans would be far more vocal in their condemnation, as would many American academics who seem unmoved by Wahabbism.
(Via Chris Bertram).