his great antagonist. Saladin was, by all accounts, a brave andrncapable soldier, a great builder, and a generous and mercifulrnruler. Richard was, if not exactly merciful, the greatest knightrnand most heroic fighter of his age and a troubadour to boot.rn(The modern attempt to portray him as a homosexual moronrnonly shows what happens when a civilization is in the control ofrnits enemies.) Their meeting is probably only a legend, butrnRichard did strike up a friendship with Saladin’s brother, whosernson he knighted.rnSaladin repeatedly expressed admiration for the piety ofrnChristian pilgrims, and, a generation or so later, Joinville refersrnapprovingly to Saladin’s ecumenical observation that a badrnMuslim could never make a good Christian. But even in therndays of Richard and Saladin, the confusion had already set in.rnThe lords of Outremer found it convenient to strike bargainsrnwith the devil’s minions and allied themselves with Muslimrnrulers against both Constantinople and new sets of crusadersrnwho upset the balance of power. Before too long, the Crusadesrnturned into European man’s first colonial adventure, and in thernFourth Crusade, the soldiers who besieged Zara and sackedrnConstantinople should have had some difficulty in maintainingrnthe fiction of a religious enterprise.rnIn later years, when the Austrians and their allies (Polish,rnHungarian, and Serbian) were defeating the last great Muslimrnpush into Europe, their European rivals took advantage of thernsituation. His Christian Majest’ Louis XIV of France alliedrnhimself with the Turks, a strategy followed later by the perfidiousrnEnglish, who supported the Turks against the Russians andrndid their best to restore the sultan’s Christian subjects in thernBalkans, once they had revolted, to the abject condition ofrndhimmi—serk who could not own a horse or weapon, make arncontract, or testify against a Muslim in court.rnPart of the British strategy is simply their usual game of balancingrnthe powers, but I sometimes wonder if there is not somernhorrifying attraction, especially for English boys brought up inrna public school, to the brutal manliness that regards sodomiticrnrape as an expression of virility. In any event, a series of Anglo-rnSaxon males who have gone in search of their manhood foundrnit in Islamic culture: Sir Richard Burton, T.E. Lawrence, andrnPasha Glub are at the head of a large pack, whose rear isrnbrought up by the academic camp-followers and foundation executivesrnwho find, in their defense of Islam, the excuse for theirrnhatred of Jews.rnFew Americans are troubled by our contradictory views ofrnIslam. Like Will Rogers, we only know what we read inrnthe papers. Most Americans, apparently, think journalists —atrnleast in the ideal —are professional seekers of fact and truth.rnSuch people have no doubt existed in the past, and thev arernsighted from time to time in various backwaters, much as Bacliman’srnWarbler is glimpsed occasionally in the swamps of thernFrancis Marion National Forest.rnJournalists like to think of themselves as practicing a profession,rnthough few would have the brass to call it a learned profession.rnThe word “professional,” though, is a dead give-away.rnWe speak of professional gamblers, professional wrestiers, professionalrnhit-men; and when we v’ant to be polite toward prostitutes,rnwe call them practitioners of the world’s oldest profession.rnProfessionals, in other words, are mercenaries who receivernmoney for a job, even a disagreeable job. The exemplary professionalsrnin the United States toda are attorneys, who are paidrnto represent a particular case and a particular set of clients, tornmake, as Socrates was accused of doing, the worse appear thernbetter cause, and it is no insult to compare journalism with thernpractice of law.rnProfessional ethics (1o say nothing of the laws) frown uponrnlawyers and journalists who make up facts, but there is no necessity^rn(as Mr. Clinton’s lawyers have told us repeatedly) to tellrnall the truth, and there is nothing wrong in repeating someonernelse’s lie. That is the rule in public relations, and it is the rulernin journalism, especially for columnists and editorial writers.rnJournalists will tell you that even their less scrupulous colleaguesrnare aiming at an ideal of objectivit’, which, because ofrntheir frailties, they cannot reach. They would like us to believernthat they really want to get at the truth of the peace talks betweenrnIsrael and the Palestinians or to dig up the straight storyrnon Saddam Hussein or the conflict in Kosovo. Their words tellrna different story. Why is it that every report on Iraq contains thernphrase “weapons of mass destruction,” and every analysis ofrnKosovo includes the figure “90 percent Albanian”? Surely, atrnleast one network is aware that Saddam’s stock of biological andrnchemical weapons is nothing in comparison with that of hisrnprincipal supplier, the United States, whose government hasrnnot only employed such chemical weapons as Agent Orangernand napalm and dropped nuclear bombs on civilians, but hasrnalso experimerrted on its own people with various toxins. And Irnknow that there are one or two men at the New York Times v hornrealize the demographic facts in Kosovo, which is more like 80rnpercent Albanian, 12 percent Serbian and Montenegrin, withrnthe balance made up of Bosnian Muslims, Gypsies, and Turks.rnThe systematic misreporting in Iraq and the Balkans serves arnnumber of interests: the State Department’s petro-politicalrnagenda, Israel’s understandable desire to eliminate a dangerousrnenemy, and the regime’s general hostilitv to religious commitmentrn—routinely stigmatized as “fundamentalism”—whetherrnit is Islam in the Middle East or Christianity in Europe and thernUnited States. Militant Islam is a bad thing in the Middle East,rnwhere it gets in the wa’ of our plans for the region, but in Europe,rnit is a good thing because it will forever destrov the Christianrnidentity of European nations.rnI do not blame the journalists for writing from a point ofrnview. The claim of impartiality, made by journalists and historians,rnshould never have been taken seriously: It is, on the facernof it, an impossible goal, and if it could be reached, it would onlyrnmean that the writer had become an inhuman monster whornhad turned his back on every person, place, and creed that hadrna claim on his loyalt)’.rnSetting aside the extreme cases—such as the demand thatrnonly Mrican-Americans can teach black history and only womenrnpursue women’s studies—the attempt to construct objectivernhistop,’ has been an abysmal failure. When historians .still hadrnpedagogic and patriotic ends in view, writers as diverse asrnThucydides and Livy, Hume and Macaulay actually shapedrnthe moral and political imaginations of ordinary people. Anrnhistorian is not necessarily dishonest because he confesses tornhaving a point of view; and a modern historian who relies onrnfacts and figures is not necessarily honest because he is reticentrnabout his prejudices. Even at the beginning of Western historyrnand epic literature. Homer is clearly on the side of the Greeksrnin the Iliad, and yet he is more than fair to the Trojans, to thernpoint that many readers have regarded Hector as the real herornof the work.rnIf human experience were a glacier, slowlv accreting facts,rnpebbles, and statistical debris in its course, some case might bernFEBRUARY 1999/11rnrnrn