Just compare those three simple declarative sentences to the stereotype of Iraqi Arabs as unbeknighted, ignorant barbarians who could not possibly govern themselves [bold mine-DL]. ~Michael Ledeen
Unbeknighted? Were the Iraqis all given honorary knighthoods at some point, and then had them taken away? The word that the great thinker is looking for is probably “benighted.” It never ceases to amaze me how passionate warmongers can be when it comes to emphasising the equality and value of Arabs only when it serves their very narrow ideological purposes. They are furious at the suggestion that Arabs might be different from Americans in any significant way (because this would suggest that democratisation is a crazy or pointless exercise), except when it is necessary to bomb them or torture them, in which case they are treated as just so much disposable trash.
Ledeen is referring above to a report that there are Iraqis who own and value books, as if this were some shocking and unknown thing. Apparently reading is the sole qualification for self-government these days, which happily means that most Americans still qualify. Perhaps this news is shocking to some of Ledeen’s pro-war confreres, who are of the view that the only thing “those people” understand is force, which presumably means that “those people” are not well-known for their love of reading. While some might think it strange that someone can be an advocate of routinely throwing “some crappy little country against the wall” and be deeply outraged at suggestions that the cultures of some nations are profoundly ill-suited to the cultivation of representative government, it all fits together rather well. If you are a mad, militant revolutionary who believes that democracy is universal and human cultures are irrelevant, the two go together very nicely. With defenders like Ledeen, Bernard Lewis doesn’t need any critics.