In 1942, not long after the attack on Pearl Harbor, a group of Japanese philosophers got together in Kyoto to discuss Japan’s role in the world. The project of this ultra-nationalist gathering was, as they put it, to find a way to “overcome modern civilization.” Since modern civilization was another term for Western civilization, the conference might just as well have been entitled “Overcoming the West.” In a complete reversal of the late-nineteenth-century goal of “leaving Asia and joining the West,” Japan was now fighting a “holy war” to liberate Asia from the West and purify Asian minds of Western ideas. Part of the holy war was, as it were, an exercise in philosophical cleansing.

The cleansing agent was a mystical mishmash of German-inspired ethnic nationalism and Zen- and Shinto-based nativism. The Japanese were a “world-historical race” descended from the gods, whose divine task it was to lead all Asians into a new age of Great Harmony, and so on. But what was “the West” which had to be purged? What needed to be “overcome”? The question has gained currency, since the chief characteristics of this Western enemy would have sounded familiar to Osama bin Laden, and other Islamic extremists. They are, not in any particular order, materialism, liberalism, capitalism, individualism, humanism, rationalism, socialism, decadence, and moral laxity. These ills would be overcome by a show of Japanese force, not just military force, but force of will, of spirit, of soul. The key characteristics of the Japanese or “Asian” spirit were self-sacrifice, discipline, austerity, individual submission to the collective good, worship of divine leadership, and a deep faith in the superiority of instinct over reason.

There was of course more at stake in Japan’s war with the West, but these were the philosophical underpinnings of Japanese wartime propaganda. The central document of Japan’s claim to national divinity was entitled Cardinal Principles of the National Polity (Kokutai no Hongi). Issued in 1937 by the ministry of education, this document claimed that the Japanese were “intrinsically quite different from so-called citizens of Western nations,” because the divine imperial bloodlines had remained unbroken, and “we always seek in the emperor the source of our lives and activities.” The Japanese spirit was “pure” and “unclouded,” whereas the influence of Western culture led to mental confusion and spiritual corruption.

Western, especially German, ideas inspired some of this. A famous right-wing professor, Dr. Uesugi Shinkichi, began his spiritual life as a Christian, studied statecraft in Wilhelminian Germany, and returned home to write (in 1919): “Subjects have no mind apart from the will of the Emperor. Their individual selves are merged with the Emperor. If they act according to the mind of the Emperor, they can realize their true nature and attain the moral ideal.”1 Of such stuff are holy warriors made.

Similar language—though without the neo-Shintoist associations—was used by German National Socialists and other European fascists. They, too, fought against that list of “soulless” characteristics commonly associated with liberal societies. One of the early critical books about Nazi thinking, by Aurel Kolnai, a Hungarian refugee, was actually entitled The War Against the West.2 Nazi ideologues and Japanese militarist propagandists were fighting the same Western ideas. The West they loathed was a multinational, multicultural place, but the main symbols of hate were republican France, cap-italist America, liberal England, and, in Germany more than Japan, the rootless cosmopolitan Jews. Japanese propaganda focused on the “Anglo-American beasts,” represented in cartoons of Roosevelt and Churchill wearing plutocratic top hats. To the Nazis “the eternal Jew” represented everything that was hateful about liberalism.

War against the West is partly a war against a particular concept of citizenship and community. Decades before the coming of Hitler, the spiritual godfather of Nazism, Houston Stewart Chamberlain, described France, Britain, and America as hopelessly “Jewified” countries. Citizenship in these places had degenerated into a “purely political concept.”3 In England, he said, “every Basuto nigger” could get a passport. Later he complained that the country had “fallen utterly into the hands of Jews and Americans.”4 Germany in his view, and that of his friend Kaiser Wilhelm II, was the only nation with enough national spirit and racial solidarity to save the West from going under in a sea of decadence and corruption. His “West” was not based on citizenship but on blood and soil.

Oswald Spengler warned in 1933 (of all years) that the main threats to the Occident came from “colored peoples” (Farbigen).5 He prophesied, not entirely without reason, huge uprisings of enraged peoples in the European colonies. He also claimed that after 1918 the Russians had become “Asiatic” again, and that the Japanese Yellow Peril was about to engulf the civilized world. More interesting, however, was Spengler’s view that the ruling white races (Herrenvölker) were losing their position in Europe. Soon, he said, true Frenchmen would no longer rule France, which was already awash with black soldiers, Polish businessmen, and Spanish farmers. The West, he concluded, would go under because white people had become soft, decadent, addicted to safety and comfort. As he put it: “Jazz music and nigger dances are the death march of a great civilization.”


If criticism of the West was influenced by half-baked ideas from Germany, more positive views of the West were also influenced by German ideas. The Slavophiles and the Westernizers, who offered opposing views of the West in nineteenth-century Russia, were both equally inspired by German intellectual currents. Ideas for or against the West are in fact to be found everywhere. The East does not begin at the river Elbe, as Konrad Adenauer believed, nor does the West start in Prague, as Milan Kundera once suggested. East and West are not necessarily geographical territories. Rather, Occidentalism, which played such a large part in the attacks of September 11, is a cluster of images and ideas of the West in the minds of its haters. Four features of Occidentalism can be seen in most versions of it; we can call them the City, the Bourgeois, Reason, and Feminism. Each contains a set of attributes, such as arrogance, feebleness, greed, depravity, and decadence, which are invoked as typically Western, or even American, characteristics.

The things Occidentalists hate about the West are not always the ones that inspire hatred of the US. The two issues should not be conflated. A friend once asked in astonishment: “Why does he hate me? I didn’t even help him.” Some people hate the US because they were helped by the US, and some because they were not. Some resent the way the US helped their own hateful governments gain or stay in power. Some feel humiliated by the very existence of the US, and some by US foreign policy. With some on the left, hatred of the US is all that remains of their leftism; anti-Americanism is part of their identity. The same goes for right-wing cultural Gaullists. Anti-Americanism is an important political issue, related to Occidentalism but not quite the same thing.


Anti-liberal revolts almost invariably contain a deep hatred of the City, that is to say, everything represented by urban civilization: commerce, mixed populations, artistic freedom, sexual license, scientific pursuits, leisure, personal safety, wealth, and its usual concomitant, power. Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, Hitler, Japanese agrarian fascists, and of course Islamists all extolled the simple life of the pious peasant, pure at heart, uncorrupted by city pleasures, used to hard work and self-denial, tied to the soil, and obedient to authority. Behind the idyll of rural simplicity lies the desire to control masses of people, but also an old religious rage, which goes back at least as far as the ancient superpower Babylon.

The “holy men” of the three monotheistic religions—Christianity, Judaism, and Islam—denounced Babylon as the sinful city-state whose politics, military might, and very urban civilization posed an arrogant challenge to God. The fabled tower of Babylon was a symbol of hubris and idolatry: “Let us build a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name” (Genesis 11:4). Indeed, God took it as a challenge to Himself: “And now nothing will be restrained from them, which they imagined to do” (Genesis 11:6). That is, the citizens of this urban superpower will act out their fantasies to become God.

“He loveth not the arrogant,” the Koran (16:23) tells us, and goes on to say: “Allah took their structures from their foundation, and the roof fell down on them from above; and the Wrath seized them from directions they did not perceive” (16:26). The prophet Isaiah already prophesied that Babylon, “the glory of all kingdoms,” would end up as “Sodom and Gomorrah” (Isaiah 13:19), and that the arrogant would be overthrown so that even an “Arabian pitch tent” would not inhabit the place (13:20). The Book of Revelation goes on to say about Babylon the great, “the mother of harlots and of the abominations of the earth” (17:5), that it “is fallen, is fallen” (18:2).

There is a recurring theme in movies from poor countries in which a young person from a remote village goes to the big city, forced by circumstances or eager to seek a new life in a wider, more affluent world. Things quickly go wrong. The young man or woman is lonely, adrift, and falls into poverty, crime, or prostitution. Usually, the story ends in a gesture of terrible violence, a vengeful attempt to bring down the pillars of the arrogant, indifferent, alien city. There are echoes of this story in Hitler’s life in Vienna, Pol Pot’s in Paris, Mao’s in Beijing, or indeed of many a Muslim youth in Cairo, Haifa, Manchester, or Hamburg.


In our world you don’t even have to move to the city to feel its constant presence, through advertising, television, pop music, and videos. The modern city, representing all that shimmers just out of our reach, all the glittering arrogance and harlotry of the West, has found its icon in the Manhattan skyline, reproduced in millions of posters, photographs, and images, plastered all over the world. You cannot escape it. You find it on dusty jukeboxes in Burma, in discothèques in Urumqi, in student dorms in Addis Ababa. It excites longing, envy, and sometimes blinding rage. The Taliban, like the Nazi provincials horrified by “nigger dancing,” like Pol Pot, like Mao, have tried to create a world of purity where visions of Babylon can no longer disturb them.

The Taliban, to be sure, have very little idea what the fleshpots of the West are really like. For them even Kabul sparkled with Occidental sinfulness, exemplified by girls in school and women with uncovered faces populating and defiling the public domain. But the Taliban, like other purists, are much concerned with the private domain too. In big, anonymous cities, separation between the private and the public makes hypocrisy possible. Indeed, in Occidentalist eyes, the image of the West, populated by city-dwellers, is marked by artificiality and hypocrisy, in contrast to the honesty and purity of a Bedouin shepherd’s life. Riyadh, and its grandiose Arabian palaces, is the epitome of hypocrisy. Its typical denizens behave like puritanical Wahhabites in public and greedy Westerners at home. To an Islamic radical, then, urban hypocrisy is like keeping the West inside one like a worm rotting the apple from within.

Most great cities are also great marketplaces. Voltaire saw much of what he admired about England in the Royal Exchange, “where the Jew, the Mahometan, and the Christian transact together as tho’ they all profess’d the same religion, and give the name of Infidel to none but bankrupts.”6 Those who hate what Voltaire respected, who see the marketplace as the source of greed, selfishness, and foreign corruption, also hate those who are thought to benefit from it most: immigrants and minorities who can only better their fortunes by trade. When purity must be restored, and foreign blood removed from the native soil, it is these people who must be purged: the Chinese from Pol Pot’s Phnom Penh, the Indians from Rangoon or Kampala, and the Jews from everywhere.

Sometimes such impurities can extend to nations, or even great powers. In their professed aim to bring back true Asian values to the East, Japanese wartime leaders promised to kick out the white imperialists as one way to “overcome unrestrained market competition.”7 Whatever Israel does, it will remain the alien grit in the eyes of Muslim purists. And the US will always be intolerable to its enemies. In bin Laden’s terms, “the crusader-Jewish alliance, led by the US and Israel,” cannot do right. The hatred is unconditional. As he observed in a 1998 interview for al-Jazeera TV: “Every grown-up Muslim hates Americans, Jews, and Christians. It is our belief and religion. Since I was a boy I have been at war with and harboring hatred towards the Americans.” The September angels of vengeance picked their target carefully. Since the Manhattan skyline is seen as a provocation, its Babylonian towers had to come down.


What did Hitler mean by “Jewish science”? For that matter, what explains the deep loathing of Darwin among Christian fundamentalists? Nazi propagandists argued that scientific truth could not be established by such “Jewish” methods as empirical inquiry or subjecting hypotheses to the experimental test; natural science had to be “spiritual,” rooted in the natural spirit of the Volk. Jews, it was proposed, approached the natural world through reason, but true Germans reached a higher understanding through creative instinct and a love of nature.

Chairman Mao coined the slogan “Science is simply acting daringly.” He purged trained scientists in the 1950s and encouraged Party zealots to embark on crazy experiments, inspired by the equally zany theories of Stalin’s pseudoscientist T.D. Lysenko. “There is nothing special,” Mao said, “about making nuclear reactors, cyclotrons or rockets…. You need to have spirit to feel superior to everyone, as if there was no one beside you.”8 All the sense of envious inferiority that Mao and his fellow Party provincials felt toward people of higher education is contained in these words. Instinct, spirit, daring… In 1942, a Japanese professor at Tokyo University argued that a Japanese victory over Anglo-American materialism was assured because the former embodied the “spiritual culture” of the East.

Like those towers of Babel in New York, the “Jewish” idea that “science is international” and human reason, regardless of bloodlines, is the best instrument for scientific inquiry is regarded by enemies of liberal, urban civilization as a form of hubris. Science, like everything else, must be infused with a higher ideal: the German Volk, God, Allah, or whatnot. But there may also be something else, something even more primitive, behind this. Worshipers of tribal gods, or even of allegedly universal ones, including Christians, Muslims, and Orthodox Jews, sometimes have a tendency to believe that infidels either have corrupt souls or have no souls at all. It is not for nothing that Christian missionaries speak of saving souls. In extreme cases, this can furnish enough justification to kill unbelievers with impunity.

Soul is a recurring theme of Occidentalism. The nineteenth-century Slavophiles pitted the “big” Russian soul against the mechanical, soulless West. They claimed to stand for deep feelings and profound understanding of suffering. Westerners, on the other hand, were deemed to be mechanically efficient, and to have nothing but an uncanny sense for calculating what is useful. The skeptical intellect, to promoters of soul, is always viewed with suspicion. Occidentalists extol soul or spirit but despise intellectuals and intellectual life. They regard the intellectual life as fragmented, indeed as a higher form of idiocy, with no sense of “totality,” the “absolute,” and what is truly important in life.

It is a fairly common belief among all peoples that “others” don’t have the same feelings that we do. The notion that life is cheap in the Orient, or that coolies feel no pain, is a variation of this, but so is the idea we have heard expressed many times in China, India, Japan, and Egypt that Westerners are dry, rational, cold, and lacking in warm human feelings. It is a mark of parochial ignorance, of course, but it also reflects a way of ordering society. The post-Enlightenment Anglo-Franco- Judeo-American West sees itself as governed by secular political institutions and the behavior of all citizens as bound by secular laws. Religious belief and other matters of the spirit are private. Our politics are not totally divorced from shared values or moral assumptions, and some of our current leaders would like to see more religion brought into our public life; but still the West is not governed by spiritual leaders who seek to mediate between us and the divine world above. Our laws do not come from divine revelation, but are drawn up by jurists.

Societies in which Caesars are also high priests, or act as idols of worship, whether they be Stalinist, monarchical, or Islamist, use a different political language. Again, an example from World War II might be useful. Whereas the Allies, led by the US, fought the Japanese in the name of freedom, the Japanese holy war in Asia was fought in the name of divine justice and peace. “The basic aim of Japan’s national policy lies in the firm establishment of world peace in accordance with the lofty spirit of All the World Under One Roof, in which the country was founded.” Thus spoke Prime Minister Konoe in 1940. Islamists, too, aim to unite the world under one peaceful roof, once the infidels and their towers have been destroyed.

When politics and religion merge, collective aims, often promoted in the name of love and justice, tend to encompass the whole world, or at least large chunks of it. The state is a secular construct. The Brotherhood of Islam, the Church of Rome, All the World Under One Japanese Roof, world communism, all in their different ways have had religious or millenarian goals. Such goals are not unknown in the supposedly secular states of the West either. Especially in the US, right-wing Christian organizations and other religious pressure groups have sought to inject their religious values and agendas into national politics in ways that would have shocked the Founding Fathers. That Reverend Jerry Falwell described the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington as a kind of punishment for our worldly sins showed that his thinking was not so far removed from that of the Islamists.

But ideally, the US and other Western democracies are examples of what Ferdinand Toennies termed a Gesellschaft, whose members are bound by a social contract. The other kind of community, the Gemeinschaft, is based on a common faith, or racial kinship, or on deep feelings of one kind or another. Typically, one German thinker, Edgar Jung, described World War I as a clash between the Intellect (the West) and the Soul (Germany).


Enemies of the West usually aspire to be heroes. As Mussolini exhorted his new Romans: “Never cease to be daring!” Islamism, Nazism, fascism, communism are all heroic creeds. Mao’s ideal of permanent revolution was a blueprint for continually stirring things up, for a society invigorated by constant heroic violence. The common enemy of revolutionary heroes is the settled bourgeois, the city dweller, the petty clerk, the plump stockbroker, going about his business, the kind of person, in short, who might have been working in an office in the World Trade Center. It is a peculiar trait of the bourgeoisie, perhaps the most successful class in history, at least so far, according to Karl Marx, to be hated so intensely by some of its most formidable sons and daughters, including Marx himself. Lack of heroism in the bourgeois ethos, of committing great deeds, has a great deal to do with this peculiarity. The hero courts death. The bourgeois is addicted to personal safety. The hero counts death tolls, the bourgeois counts money. Bin Laden was asked by his interviewer in 1998 whether he ever feared betrayal from within his own entourage. He replied: “These men left worldly affairs, and came here for jihad.”

Intellectuals, themselves only rarely heroic, have often displayed a hatred of the bourgeois and an infatuation with heroism—heroic leaders, heroic creeds. Artists in Mussolini’s Italy celebrated speed, youth, energy, instinct, and death-defying derring-do. German social scientists before World War II were fascinated by the juxtaposition of the hero and the bourgeois: Werner Sombart’s Händler und Helden (Merchants and Heroes) and Bogislav von Selchow’s Der bürgerliche und der heldische Mensch (The Civil and the Heroic Man) are but two examples of the genre. Von Selchow was one, among many others, by no means all German, who argued that bourgeois liberal society had become cold, fragmented, decadent, mediocre, lifeless. The bourgeois, he wrote, is forever hiding himself in a life without peril. The bourgeois, he said, is anxious to eliminate “fighting against Life, as he lacks the strength necessary to master it in its very nakedness and hardness in a manly fashion.”9

To the likes of von Selchow or Ernst Jünger, World War I showed a different, more heroic side of man. That is why the Battle of Langemarck, a particularly horrific episode in 1914, in which Jünger himself took part, became such a subject for hero worship. Some 145,000 men died in a sequence of utterly futile attacks. But the young heroes, many of them from elite universities like the Japanese kamikaze pilots thirty years later, were supposed to have rushed to their early graves singing the Deutschlandlied. The famous words of Theodor Körner, written a century before, were often evoked in remembrance: “Happiness lies only in sacrificial death.” In the first week of the current war in Afghanistan, a young Afghan warrior was quoted in a British newspaper. “The Americans,” he said, “love Pepsi Cola, but we love death.” The sentiments of the Langemarck cult exactly.

Even those who sympathize with the democratic West, such as Alexis de Tocqueville, have pointed out the lack of grandeur, the intellectual conformity, and the cultural mediocrity that is supposed to be inherent in our systems of government. Democracy, Tocqueville warned, could easily become the tyranny of the majority. He noted that there were no great writers in America, or indeed anything that might be described as great. It is a common but somewhat questionable complaint. For it is not at all clear that art and culture in New York is any more mediocre than it is in Damascus or Beijing.

Much in our affluent, market-driven societies is indeed mediocre, and there is nothing admirable about luxury per se, but when contempt for bourgeois creature comforts becomes contempt for life you know the West is under attack. This contempt can come from many sources, but it appeals to those who feel impotent, marginalized, excluded, or denigrated: the intellectual who feels unrecognized, the talentless art student in a city filled with brilliance, the time-serving everyman who disappears into any crowd, the young man from a third-world country who feels mocked by the indifference of a superior West; the list of possible recruits to a cult of death is potentially endless.

Liberalism, wrote an early Nazi theorist, A. Moeller v.d. Bruck, is the “liberty for everybody to be a mediocre man.” The way out of mediocrity, say the sirens of the death cult, is to submerge one’s petty ego into a mass movement, whose awesome energies will be unleashed to create greatness in the name of the Führer, the Emperor, God, or Allah. The Leader personifies all one’s yearnings for grandeur. What is the mere life of one, two, or a thousand men, if higher things are at stake? This is a license for great violence against others: Jews, infidels, bourgeois liberals, Sikhs, Muslims, or whoever must be purged to make way for a greater, grander world. An American chaplain named Francis P. Scott tried to explain to the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal the extraordinary brutality of Japanese soldiers during the war. After many interviews with former combatants, he concluded that “they had a belief that any enemy of the emperor could not be right, so the more brutally they treated their prisoners, the more loyal to the emperor they were being.”10

The truest holy warrior, however, is not the torturer but the kamikaze pilot. Self-sacrifice is the highest honor in the war against the West. It is the absolute opposite of the bourgeois fear for his life. And youth is the most capable of sacrificial acts. Most kamikazes were barely out of high school. As bin Laden has said, “The sector between fifteen and twenty-five is the one with ability for jihad and sacrifice.”


Aurel Kolnai argued in 1938 in his War Against the West that “the trend towards the emancipation of women [is] keenly distinctive of the West.” This somewhat sweeping claim seems to be born out by the sentiments of Kolnai’s enemies. Here is Alfred Rosenberg, the Nazi propagandist: “Emancipation of woman from the women’s emancipation movement is the first demand of a generation of women which would like to save the Volk and the race, the Eternal-Unconscious, the foundation of all culture, from decline and fall.”11Leaving aside what this woolly-headed thinker could have meant by the Eternal-Unconscious, the meaning is clear enough. Female emancipation leads to bourgeois decadence. The proper role for women is to be breeders of heroic men. One reason the Germans imported such huge numbers of workers from Poland and other countries under Nazi occupation was the dogmatic insistence that German women should stay at home.

Bin Laden is equally obsessed with manliness and women. It is indeed one of his most cherished Occidentalist creeds. “The rulers of that region [the Gulf States] have been deprived of their manhood,” he said in 1998. “And they think the people are women. By God, Muslim women refuse to be defended by these American and Jewish prostitutes.” The West, in his account, is determined “to deprive us of our manhood. We believe we are men.”

Few modern societies were as dominated by males as wartime Japan, and the brutal policy of forcing Korean, Chinese, and Filipina, as well as Japanese, girls to serve in military brothels was a sign of the low status of women in the Japanese empire. And yet, the war itself had the peculiar effect of emancipating Japanese women to a degree that cannot possibly have been intended. Because most able-bodied men were needed on the battlefronts, women had to take care of their families, trade in the black markets, and work in the factories. Unlike the men, who experienced defeat as a deep humiliation, many Japanese women regarded the Allied victory as a step toward their liberation. One of the most important changes in postwar Japan was that women got the right to vote. They did so in large numbers as early as 1946. A new constitution was drawn up mostly by American jurists, but the articles concerning women’s rights were largely the work of a remarkable person called Beate Sirota, who represented most things enemies of the West would have loathed. She was European, educated, a woman, and a Jew.

To all those who see military discipline, self-sacrifice, austerity, and worship of the Leader as the highest social ideals, the power of female sexuality will be seen as a dire threat. From ancient times women are the givers and the guardians of life. Women’s freedom is incompatible with a death cult. Indeed, open displays of female sexuality are a provocation, not only to holy men, but to all repressed people whose only way to exaltation is death for a higher cause. Pictures of partly naked Western women advertising Hollywood movies, or soft drinks, or whatever, by suggesting sexual acts, are as ubiquitous in the world as those images of the Manhattan skyline. They are just as frustrating, confusing, and sometimes enraging. For again they promise a sinful, libidinous world of infinite pleasure beyond most people’s reach.


There is no clash of civilizations. Most religions, especially monotheistic ones, have the capacity to harbor the anti-Western poison. And varieties of secular fascism can occur in all cultures. The current conflict, therefore, is not between East and West, Anglo-America and the rest, or Judeo-Christianity and Islam. The death cult is a deadly virus which now thrives, for all manner of historical and political reasons, in extreme forms of Islam.

Occidentalism is the creed of Islamist revolutionaries. Their aim is to create one Islamic world guided by the sharia (Islamic law), as interpreted by trusted scholars who have proved themselves in jihad (read “revolution”). This is a call to purify the Islamic world of the idolatrous West, exemplified by America. The aim is to strike at American heathen shrines, and show, in the most spectacular fashion, that the US is vulnerable, a “paper tiger” in revolutionary jargon. Through such “propaganda by action” against the arrogant US, the forces of jihad will unite and then impose their revolution on the Islamic world.

Ayatollah Khomeini was a “Stalinist” in the sense that he wanted to stage a revolution in one significant country, Iran, before worrying about exporting it. Bin Laden, by contrast, is a “Trotskyite,” who views Afghanistan as a base from which to export revolution right away. There is a tension between the “Stalinists” and the “Trotskyites” within the Islamist movement. September 11 gave the “Trotskyites” an advantage.

Al-Qaeda is making a serious bid to stage an Islamist revolution that would bring down governments from Indonesia to Tunisia. It has not succeeded yet. We can expect more “propaganda by action” against the US and US installations, accompanied by crude Occidentalist propaganda. The West, and not just the geographical West, should counter this intelligently with the full force of calculating bourgeois anti-heroism. Accountants mulling over shady bank accounts and undercover agents bribing their way will be more useful in the long-term struggle than special macho units blasting their way into the caves of Afghanistan. But if one thing is clear in this murky war, it is that we should not counter Occidentalism with a nasty form of Orientalism. Once we fall for that temptation, the virus has infected us too.

This Issue

January 17, 2002