Hi Tao. As you know, I’ve been in your court in calling Netti out on his many rhetorical sins and faulty representations. I just wish our friend would step back, take a breather, and with fresh eyes look at the criticisms. He may find they have some justification. And if he truly is merely humbly speaking out for the underdog, taking such lessons in stride will help him do a much better job of it. But here I want to call your attention to a couple of things. First of all, a minor misuse of a term that will leave you open for attack. The term “orientalist” in academe is more likely to refer to a denigrator than to a defender of Islam. “Orientalism” was coined to my knowledge by Edward Said to refer to the imposition of Western perspectives onto subject peoples in the Middle East. As I said in a previous post, Said quite rightly explicates the trauma of colonialism, but perhaps provides too much support to the view some people fall into of Arab or Muslim eternal victimization. Interestingly enough, some time back I did come across a little book called “Occidentalism”, which plays off Said’s work, exposing the pattern of apologists who blame the West for everything that has gone wrong with Islam. You know the list: the crusades, the reconquista, colonialism, U.S. imperialism, etc. Now, I’m no apologist for sins and violence of the West, which are legion, but history shows that Islam was not made up of choirboys either, despite at some periods having by some measures the superior civilization. But all this begs the question: why was Islam so easily traumatized? As I’ve said repeatedly, it does Muslims little service to paint them as perennial victims (or to exaggerate their glories). But I want also to call attention to your rather extreme and alarmist take on Islam. While in a way I admire your forthrightness and find it preferable to the mealy-mouthed types in the West who would flatter Islam out of it excesses, but who know little or nothing about it – think of the sheer hypocrisy of George Bush calling Islam a peaceful religion – I also think you’re at times painting a picture of a tradition so inherently brutal and corrupt that it would have been incapable of civilization of any description. That I think tends to undermine your quite legitimate concerns about the militancy and paucity of democratic values typical not just of the extremists but of mainstream Islam as well. Islam is certainly a potential threat to our freedoms that should be taken seriously, as are American Christian fundamentalists, but again I think a more measured and sober approach would be more effective. Just an FYI, not an invitation to debate. Cheers.