Chomsky takes down Hitchens

Luke Weiger lweiger at
Sat Oct 6 14:24:58 PDT 2001

Kelly wrote:
> oooooooooooo. shoulda called them indians instead! why were they called
> indians? where, geographically, were the explorers headed? west or east?
> get it?

Sort of.

> firstly, you said dark ages, too, another ooops.

Nah. I think that was warranted.

> Secondly, you were
> referring to an "idea" when you bring up the "West", to western values.
> now, in the interest of deflecting criticism (or else you genuinely do not
> know or hadn't thought it through) you are trying to claim that it was
> about geography.

Obviously I'm aware of the fact that what is now recognized as Western culture did not exist before the Renassaince and Enlightenment. However, I'll concede that my conflation of geographic west with cultural west was incoherent.

> The Islam of the sociological discourse is, of course, an immanent
> phenomenon and not a transcendent ideal. As such, however, it is also an
> elemental fact of the pathology of its putative other, the Euro-West. No
> image of the Western self is either comprehensive or comprehensible if it
> does not include a complementary picture of the Islamic other. Islam is an
> inexpungable constituent of every past discourse on Western identity, be
> religious and premodern or imperialist and modern. 'The Orientalist
> discourse,' admits Turner, 'was ultimately about the origins of the West,
> not the origins of the East.'

Not sure what to make of this.

-- Luke

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