ers, who also remain unidentified. Hisncomparison of international rates ofngrowth and taxation is completely pointless;nhe flounders about in a morass ofnrandomly selected statistics without thenassistance of either the theory or thenevidence which more extensive referencento the academic sources wouldnhave provided. This aversion to evidencenis all the more peculiar in that ansubstantial proportion of the publicfinancenliterature would have providednsupport for his liberal views of tax renform. His dereliction might be due tonignorance, but it may also be a symptomnof a deeper malaise. The step from believingnthat realities are less importantnthan perceptions in political life to believingnthe same of intellectual life isnnot a large one. The difficulty of discoveringnthe truth about complex humannactivities can easily lead people tonbelieve that the investigation is notnworthwhile.nMeaningful intellectual discoursenFaith, Truth & RealitynV. S. ^aiipa.M: Among the Believers:nAn Islamic Journey; Alfred A.nKnopf; New York.nEdward W. Said: Covering Islam:nHow the Media and the Experts DeterminenHow We See the Rest of thenWorld; Pantheon Books; New York.nby William McGurnnXJefore the oil embargo, the vast majoritynof Americans was unfamiliar withnplaces like Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, etc.nSince then, however, we have had thenformation of OPEC, the fall of the Shah,nthe hostage crisis and, lately, the assassinationnof Egyptian President Anwar elnSadat. Though the names and majorncharacters are by now more familiar,nMr. McGurn is assistant managing editornof The American Spectator.ncan exist only between people who recognizena common ground, who can interpretntheir differences not as merenconflicts of opinion but as positionsnwhich can be supported and justifiednby some reasonably objective standardsnof careful inquiry, professional competencenand intellectual integrity. Deliberatenrefusal to admit that empiricalnevidence and questions of fact are ofncritical importance in intellectual debatentends to allow an exchange ofnviews to be dominated by ad hominemnslurs and brandished opinion polls. Innsuch an atmosphere simple, but wrong,npositions may often seem stronger thanncomplicated, but right, ones. Quite apartnfrom the direct costs of formulating policiesnin ignorance of economic realities,nan indifference to empirical evidence degradesnthe intellectual environment of ansociety. The proposition that authorsnought to know what they are writingnabout amounts to more than a justificationnfor book reviewers’ conceits. DnAmericans still have little understandingnof the profound divisions and loyaltiesnof these people and their relationshipnwith Islam.nTwo recent books address the Islamicnfaith in ways that are diametrically opposednboth in quality and approach. Thenbetter of the two is that of Mr. V. S. Naipaul,na chronicle of his seven-month tripnthrough Iran, Pakistan, Malaysia andnIndonesia. It is his seventeenth book, tennof which are novels, and it is exactly thennovelist’s flair for developing charactersnthat makes this book come alive. The secondnis by Dr. Edward W. Said, a ColumbianUniversity professor of English andncomparative literature.nDr. Said’s major complaint (aside fromnthe mere existence of the state of Israel)nis that the media, and especially but notnexclusively the American media, givenpoor and superficial coverage to the Islamicnworld, creating stereotypes, sim­nnnplifying ancient divisions and spreadingnoutright lies along the way. But EvelynnWaugh made the same point much moreneffectively, years ago, in Scoop:nYou know, when I first started innjournalism I used to think that foreignncorrespondents spoke every languagenunder the sun and spent theirnlives studying international conditionsn… On Monday afternoon I wasnin East Sheen breaking the news to anwidow of her husband’s death leapnwith a champion girl cyclist—thenwrong widow as it turned out; the husbandncame back from business while Inwas there and cut up very nasty. Nextnday the chief has me in and says,n’Corker, you’re off to Ishmaelia.’nIt is not, as Said believes, a situationnwhich applies only when the Westernnpress looks outward to non-Westernnpeoples. If Dr. Said were to talk to thensewage commissioner of Dubuque ornthe mayor of Peoria he would likely findnsimilar feelings of outrage. What reallynirks Dr. Said is that the Western pressncovers the Islamic world like . . . well.nWesterners. But short of licensing onlynOxford dons he offers no realistic suggestionsnas to how to overcome this deficiency.nAnd although he goes intongreat detail as to what Islam is not. Dr.nSaid seems to be confused about justnwhat Islam is. That is exactly wherenNaipaul begins. By allowing his readersnto see Islam through the eyes and, morenimportantly, the hearts of his subjects,nhe provides the reader with a glimpse ofnthe diversity of these nations as wellnas the shared belief that faith comesnfirst.nMost reviews of Naipaul’s book—nand there have been many—havenfocused on the author rather than hisnwork. Those few who do attempt actuallynto discuss his book are thoroughlynannoyed with Naipaul because he refusesnto resort to the usual mea culpasnon behalf of Western civilization, thusnforcing them to acknowledge his critiquesnof the Islamic countries. Thesenare unpleasant. The inconvenient factnMarch/April 198Sn