August 23, 2002


Deconstructing Osama : Bin Laden is still popular in the Arab world. Why? (BERNARD LEWIS, August 23, 2002, Wall Street Journal)
The role of the Middle Eastern Robin Hood, unlike his Western prototype, is not to rob the rich and give to the poor, though some such expectation may lurk in the background; it is rather to defy the strong and to protect--and ultimately avenge--the weak. For Osama bin Laden and his merry men, the Sheriff of Nottingham is their local potentate, whichever that may be. The ultimate enemy, King John, lives far away, as he has always done--in Constantinople and Vienna, London and Paris, and now in Washington and New York.

This vision, comforting though it may be to those who hold it, is flawed at both ends. King John was not a democrat, and Robin Hood was not a terrorist. We live in a different world, and at a different level of reality. Those who cherish such delusions will sooner or later suffer a painful but salutary awakening.

It's terribly disappointing to see the great Bernard Lewis totally biff the meaning of the Robin Hood legend. Posted by Orrin Judd at August 23, 2002 8:33 PM
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