RE: Said and Orientalism

From: Lawrence DeBivort (
Date: Wed 01 Oct 2003 - 12:24:49 GMT

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    Joe Dees continues with his anti-Muslim bigotry. Have today's Muslims and Arabs become his 'niggers' of yesterday?

    "Ibn Warraq" is an admitted pseudonym. Relying on its views on Islam is a bit like relying on Madeline O'Hare (sp?) for commentary on Christianity, with one difference: we know that O'Hare was a real person. "Ibn Warraq" has all the markings of a fake personna and 'agent provocateur.' I wonder who the real source is? Who has most to gain from bombarding the world with anti-Muslim and anti-Arab diatribes?

    Scott asked Joe to desist, and said that he wouldn't resort to asking the moderators to intervene. Derek has warned that if these diatribes aren't stopped, we might loose this list. Joe ignores these requests and steps up his abuse of the list.

    Should we not be appealing to the moderators to stop this, as they have before, and before we lose the list?

    > -----Original Message-----
    > From: []On Behalf
    > Of
    > Sent: Wed, October 01, 2003 12:02 AM
    > To:
    > Subject: Said and Orientalism
    > Said and ORIENTALISM
    > Ibn Warraq in Wall Street Journal, September 29, 2003
    > Late in life, Edward Said made a rare conciliatory gesture. In
    > 1998, he accused the Arab world of hypocrisy for defending a
    > holocaust denier on grounds of free speech. After all, free speech
    > œscarcely exists in our own societies. The history of the modern
    > Arab world was one of œpolitical failures, œhuman rights abuses,
    > œstunning military incompetences, œdecreasing production, [and]
    > the fact that alone of all modern peoples, we have receded in
    > democratic and technological and scientific development.
    > Those truths aside, Mr. Said, who died last week, will go down
    > in history for having practically invented the intellectual
    > argument for Muslim Rage. œOrientalism, his bestselling
    > manifesto, introduced the Arab world to victimology. The most
    > influential book of recent times for Arabs and Muslims,
    > œOrientalism, blamed Western history and scholarship for
    > the ills of the Muslim world: Were it not for imperialists,
    > racists and Zionists, the Arab world would be great once more.
    > Islamic fundamentalism, too, calls the West a Satan that
    > oppresses Islam by its very existence. œOrientalism lifted that
    > concept, and made it over into Western radical chic, giving
    > vicious anti-Americanism a high literary gloss.
    > In œTerror and Liberalism, Paul Berman traces the absorption
    > of Marxist justifications of rage by Arab intellectuals and shows
    > how it became a powerful philosophical predicate for Islamist
    > terrorism. Mr. Said was the most influential exponent of this
    > trend. He and his followers also had the effect of cowing many
    > liberal academics in the West into a politically correct silence
    > about Islamic fundamentalist violence two decades prior to 9/11.
    > Mr. Said™s rock-star status among the left-wing literary elite put
    > writers on the Middle East and Islam in constant jeopardy of
    > being labeled œOrientalist oppressors”a potent form of
    > intellectual censorship.
    > œOrientalism was a polemic that masqueraded as scholarship. Its
    > historical analysis was gradually debunked by scholars. It became
    > clear that Mr. Said, a literary critic, used poetic license, not
    > empirical inquiry. Nevertheless he would state his conclusions as
    > facts, and they were taken as such by his admirers. His technique
    > was to lay charges of racism, imperialism, and Eurocentrism on
    > the whole of Western scholarship of the Arab world”effectively,
    > to claim the moral high ground and then to paint all who might
    > disagree with him as collaborators with imperialism. Western
    > writers employed œa western style for dominating, restructuring,
    > and having authority over the Orient. They conspired to suppress
    > native voices that might give a truer account. All European
    > writings masked a œdiscourse of power. They had stereotyped the
    > œOther as passive, weak, or barbarian. œ[The Orientalist™s] Orient
    > is not the Orient as it is, but the Orient as it has been
    > Orientalized, he said.
    > By the very act of studying the East, the West had manipulated it,
    > œpolitically, sociologically, militarily, ideologically, scientifically,
    > and imaginatively. This conspiracy of domination, he said, had
    > been going on from the Enlightenment to the present day. But
    > while deploring œthe disparity between texts and reality, Mr. Said
    > never himself tried to describe what that reality was, merely
    > sighing that, œTo look into Orientalism for a lively sense of an
    > Oriental™s human or even social reality¦is to look in vain.
    > Mr. Said routinely twisted facts to make them fit his politics. For
    > example, to him, the most important thing about Jane Austen™s
    > œMansfield Park was that its heroine, Fanny Price, lived on blood
    > money. In his writings, verbal allusion and analogy stood in for
    > fact, a device to reassure the ignorant of the correctness of his
    > conclusions. Of these he found many over the years in American
    > universities. His works had an aesthetic appeal to a leftist bent of
    > mind, but even this now can be seen as a fad of the late 20th
    > century. The irony, of course, is that he was ultimately
    > grandstanding for the West--for Western eyes, Western salons,
    > and Western applause.
    > (Ibn Warraq [a pseudonym used to protect himself and his family
    > from Islamists] is the author of œWhy I am Not a Muslim and the
    > editor of œLeaving Islam: Apostates Speak Out, published by
    > Prometheus Books in 1995 and 2003 respectively.)
    > ===============================================================
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