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A friend writes to ask if anyone else has noticed the Spring 2008 issue of the Berlin Journal , which features an article by the NYU history professor David Levering Lewis entitled “Islam and the Making of the First Europe.”

Not many of us get the Berlin Journal , but Lewis is a major figure: a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and past president of the Society of American Historians. And here is what he writes on page 21 about the Battle of Poitiers, where Charles Martel held off the Saracens: “By defining itself in opposition to Islam, Christian Europe made virtues out of hereditary aristocracy, persecutory religious intolerance, cultural particularism, and perpetual war. Instead of being incorporated into a cosmopolitan Muslim regnum unobstructed by borders, devoid of a priestly caste, animated by the dogma of equality of the faithful, and respectful of all religious faiths, proto-Europe evolved on a contradistinctive course.”

It is impossible that he believes all this about Medieval Islam, of course, but it moves in the voice of strong belief—for what he does believe, I’m willing to bet, is that Christian Europe is the source of all evil in world history. And if falsely praising Islam is the price that has to be paid for bashing Christianity, well, so be it.

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