Bernard Lewis recently gave a fine talk to the newly formed Americans for the Study of the Middle East and Africa. Lewis named political correctness and multiculturalism among the obstacles to genuine scholarship on the Middle East, inasmuch as they forbid honest discussion of the nature of Islam. The present-day restrictions on discussion about Islam, Lewis stated, are unparalleled in the Western world since the 18th century and in some places long before that.
He might have added to PC and MC the universalist ideology promoted by the Bush administration which insists that all mankind desires Western-style freedom and self-government, and that all are right now capable of it. The State Department and the Department of Homeland Security, for example, in consultation with unnamed Muslim leaders and scholars, have issued Orwellian reports telling government employees to emphasize that Islam and democracy are not only fully compatible, but mutually strengthening.
But the very reports that give this directive are also directing thought and proscribing words — "jihad" and "mujahedeen" are to be avoided since they might suggest the idea that warfare to advance the faith has a religious basis in Islam, something our government evidently wants to believe, or wants us to believe, is untrue. Talk about Willful Blindness, as Andrew McCarthy's new book is titled. Far from democracy being strengthened by Islam, we are surrendering our principles in order to accommodate it. Another of the proscribed words is "liberty," because that can suggest American hegemony.