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OT: Bernard Lewis at the AEI Dinner

Jacob Weisberg makes much of a single sentence in Bernard Lewis's one-hour-plus address at the AEI Annual Dinner, which I attended last week.

In a disquisition lasting about an hour where he discussed the history of Islam's relationship with the Western world, Lewis spent a paragraph where he called the Crusades "a late, limited and unsuccessful imitation of the jihad," and noted that it was a ludicrous example of "political correctness" for John Paul II to apologize for them given that they were a response to Islamic aggression. Weisberg says this line drew "applause," which is technically true—there was scattered applause in a ballroom of over a thousand people, though none at my table, where I quizzically looked at my date and laughed "Are they applauding the Crusades?!"

Anyone who knows the dynamic of lengthy alcohol-fueled late-night pre-dinner lectures knows that a single audience member can generate polite applause from dozens or hundreds of people whose attention had been distracted because of the mechanism of the tipping point. (In my younger, more mischievous, days, I would do that myself at speeches I attended in college.) Weisberg draws a heck of a lot of inferences out of that scattered applause and tries to tar an entire political spectrum with the Crusades. Neil King's account on a WSJ blog is even more slanted, but at least he appended a correction, after Claudia Rosett took him to task. Let's see if Weisberg does the same.



Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.