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Defending the West: A Critique of Edward Said's 'Orientalism' Hardcover – 1 Jan 2007


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 500 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (1 Jan. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591024846
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591024842
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 3.5 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 497,216 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ashtar Command on 27 Nov. 2014
Format: Hardcover
Ibn Warraq is a Pakistani-born, ex-Muslim dissident from Britain, and author of several books highly critical of both Islam and Islamism. His name is a pseudonym. "Defending the West" is Warraq's response to Edward Said's immensely popular "post-colonial" work "Orientalism". I admit that I never bothered reading Said, but this is highly necessary for grasping Warraq's riposte, which is intended to stand on its own, being a general critique of a certain kind of anti-Western mindset both within secular Western academe and in the Muslim world. Warraq believes, rightly or wrongly, that Said's "mischievous" tome is responsible for a large part of this anti-Western mindset, hence singling it out for special attention.

Warraq's response is written from a liberal standpoint ("liberal" in the European sense of Locke and Mill), so conservative Catholics or fascist nationalists probably won't like this book. The Western traditions Warraq is defending includes belief in the unity of the human race, the universality of human rights, objective truth, dispassionate search for knowledge for knowledge's sake, rational discourse, self-criticism, democracy and (perhaps) free trade. Above all, however, Warraq defends the idea of an authentic melting pot, where different cultures (including "Oriental" ones) influence and fructify each other. In Warraq's opinion, only the West has been a genuinely and consistently open-ended culture of this kind, characterized by curiosity in "The Other", at times bordering on outright "barbarophilia". Thus, there is no static, essentialist, racist, colonialist "West" locked in perpetual struggle against an equally essentialist "Orient".
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54 of 84 people found the following review helpful By B. D. Wilson VINE VOICE on 30 April 2008
Format: Hardcover
Ibn Warraq's latest book is an eloquent and impassioned defence of the West against the liberal self-loathing and grievance-mongering of liberals and cultural relativists such as Edward Said. With fact after devastating fact, Warraq debunks Said's thesis that every European is by definition a racist, whose sole interest in the Orient is merely to dominate and colonise it.

Part 1 of the book is largely a reprint of an old essay Warraq wrote refuting Said. It serves as a general overview of the whole book.

Part 2 is where it gets really good. Warraq argues that there are "Three Tutelary Guiding Lights" that define humanity, and he demonstrates with countless examples how the West has embodied these principles more than any other civilisation in history. The three guiding lights are rationalism (learning for its own sake), universalism (acceptance, tolerance and admiration of other cultures and willingness to learn from them), and self-criticism, which leads to positive change within cultures (Warraq points out that it was the West which abolished slavery, for example). All the while, however, the author does not denigrate the Orient and Islamic civilisation, and gives them credit where it's due.

I also enjoyed the section later in the book where Warraq outlines the racist attitudes that are prevalent in the Orient, which Edward Said never mentions and the mainstream media never covers, including the surprising revelation that Mahatma Gandhi was a racist and warmonger in his earlier years.
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42 of 67 people found the following review helpful By G. J. Weeks on 12 Mar. 2008
Format: Hardcover
The author is an apostate Muslim from Pakistan living in Europe. He writes with scholarship and erudition to demolish the postmodernism of the liberal Palestinian Christian Said. In his Orientalism Said dismissed the scholarship of all Western orientalists as corrupted by imperialist motives. The author shows this is not the case. The scholars were out to discover the truth about the Orient, to understand not to exploit. He accuses Said of encouraging the modern Muslim victim culture. He demolished the myths of a tolerant Islam. In Spain Jews were persecuted, killed and hounded out. Islam does not promote understanding of other cultures nor scholarship on matters not Islamic. He sees Islamic anti-semitism as rooted in Mohammed, not in Zionism. He is appreciative of missionaries like Lull and Carey though strangely silent on the anti-slavery of the Clapham Sect. He tells us that the Triangular Trade enslaved 11 million Africans but Arab traders enslaved 17 million Africans and also Europeans. Highest prices were for eunuchs as only about 10% survived the operation. This book is an indictment of Said and of Islam. He sees the root cause of Islamic fundamentalism is Islam.
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21 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Gary Selikow on 12 Oct. 2010
Format: Hardcover
Edward Said's fraudulent work, first published in 1978, has had a growing pernicious effect on the world, as have his hateful and deceitful works on the Arab-Israel conflict.
Said's polemic has very much become the accepted dogma of university departments across the world that study any of the subjects covered by 'Orientalism'. Ibn Warraq refutes the perfidious lies of Said meticulously and with brutal candour in this antidote to Said's pro-Islamo-Fascist and nihilist Far Left propaganda.

The effect of Said's work has been to slander the valuable work of generations of genuine scholars on the Middle East and Islamic world. but his work has gone much further than academia. He taught an entire generation of Muslims and Arabs 'the art of self-pity' which has led to the rise of Islamo-Nazi fundamentalism and terror that is the biggest threat to the freedom and decency of the world today.

Warraq points out Said in his fraudulent creation of the concept of "the other", a cliche rammed down the throats of university students around the world, is never used to apply to non-Muslims or even non-Arabs in the Islamic world.
Peoples such as the Copts, Maronites, Mandaens, Samaritans, Assyrians, Greek Orthodox Christians, Chaldeans, Berbers Zoroastrians, Baha'is and especially Jews are denied the status of Orientals and the protected status of 'the Other'. They simply do not exist in the world of Said and his intellectual followers.
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