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Thread: Brilliant Analysis by Edward Said on the 'East' - Orientialism

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    Default Brilliant Analysis by Edward Said on the 'East' - Orientialism

    Last edited by Peter Lemkin; 04-10-2016 at 12:14 PM.
    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

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    A great man! Thanks.
    "We'll know our disinformation campaign is complete when everything the American public believes is false." --William J. Casey, D.C.I

    "We will lead every revolution against us." --Theodore Herzl

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    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

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    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

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    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

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    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

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    Sadly missed. Thanks for posting Peter.
    "I think it would be a good idea." Mahatma Gandhi, when asked what he thought of Western civilization.

    The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.
    Karl Marx.

    "Well, he would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies, 1963, replied Ms Rice Davies when the prosecuting counsel pointed out that Lord Astor denied an affair or having even met her.

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    Said sadly died quite young in September 2003, of leukemia from which he had long suffered, in NYC, long his adopted home. He was born in Jerusalem in 1935, but could not by Israeli law return nor be a citizen of where he was born. He was a Christian Arab Palestinian in exile. Though he taught comparative literature at Columbia University, he is best known for his lectures and books on what he named Orientalism [how the West invented in their own minds the 'East' in order to make it 'OK' to colonize, dehumanize, and exploit the lands, mineral wealth, and peoples.] He was such a brilliant thinker and a gentle man, but he had to have a red button in his apartment to call the local police station due to the constant death threats he received for his viewpoints. If one is interested in reading only one book by Said, may I suggest his most famous one entitled 'Orientalism'.

    He did not live long after 9-11-01 and was very ill in those last two years, so did not write too much on those events....but he did some and felt that it was only a continuation of a theme he had long seen dating back more than several hundred years.

    Edward Said Addresses 9/11 Issues at Chapman University

    By Pat McDonnell Twair

    In a rare West Coast appearance, Edward Said discussed the widening gap between the U.S. and the Arab/Muslim world since Sept. 11.
    Speaking on “Power, Politics and Culture: the U.S. and the Middle East,” the renowned Palestinian-American academic was the special guest at a Feb. 28 program sponsored by Chapman University’s peace studies program. In his remarks, Said traced the historic connections between the U.S. and the Arab world and the dehumanizing images of Muslims dominating the media since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.
    “I have lived in the U.S. for 50 years,” he told the audience, “and I have never felt so isolated in light of the mass arrests and discrimination. I don’t know a single Arab or Muslim who doesn’t feel he/she has been put in the enemy camp. If one speaks Arabic in public or reads a document in the Arabic language, one is under suspicion.”
    Asserting that the U.S. media have become an arm of the military, Said noted that it is easier for the government and the press to trash Arabs than to acknowledge the real reasons underlying the Arab/Islamic world’s resentment toward Washington.
    “U.S. criticism is muted over Israel’s barbaric treatment of the Palestinians,” averred the Columbia University professor of English and comparative literature. “Even though U.S. foreign policy is accountable to its citizens, it is easier to criticize the Arabs as the villains than to admit the actions that have generated this intense hatred.”
    Although Americans took an interest in the Arab world after huge petroleum deposits were discovered in the 1930s, Said said, antagonism between the two grew because Arabs became known in the U.S. mainly for being opposed to the state of Israel.
    After the 1967 war, he added, popular conceptions of Muslims as addicted to incest, slavery, abnormal sexuality and a permanent war against infidels became accepted in this country.
    Said recalled his own encounter with the ridiculous heights to which this animosity rose after his publisher asked him to prepare a list of Third World authors whose works might be translated into English. Many of the writers he suggested were accepted, Said said, but when he questioned the exclusion of Egyptian writer Naguib Mahfouz he was told that Mahfouz’s “works are in Arabic and Arabic is a controversial language.”
    Another absurdity Said pointed out was an American commentator’s asking the Israeli ambassador to the U.S. if Mahfouz’s having been awarded the Nobel Prize for literature was objectionable.
    Since the end of the Cold War, Said continued, the U.S. has been the most important force in the Arab world because of its concerns that a steady flow of oil to the West be maintained. Since 1967, however, he emphasized, Israel has occupied Palestinian territory—a fact universally condemned outside the U.S. Nonetheless, Washington continues to subsidize this occupation—which as of this year, he noted, is the longest military occupation in modern history.
    In the process, he said, in the name of fighting Israel, Arab regimes declared martial law and committed barbaric acts against any domestic opposition. As civic and secular cultures were suppressed, he explained, extremism and fanaticism became the alternative outlet in the Arab world.
    In an aside, Said recalled that, when he was a child growing up in pre-1948 Palestine and Egypt, Jews were considered Arabs with a different religion.
    After 1948, however, he said, the state of Israel covered up the story of the dispossessed Palestinians, while conjuring up an image of a tiny Jewish state threatened by its Arab neighbors.
    “Israel has received disproportionate support ever since,” Said stated, “and when objections rise over this, it says it is about to be destroyed—despite the 200 to 500 nuclear warheads it possesses.”
    Ironically, Said was delivering his lecture on the first day of Israel’s invasion of the Balata and Jenin refugee camps. “An American TV reporter frets over the danger to Israel while Palestinian civilians are murdered and rounded up like sheep,” he said in amazement. “This disproportionate relationship and preoccupation with Israel pushes Americans to treat Israelis like Olympians from on high. No anchorman asks [Israeli Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon, ”˜When will you give up terrorism...stop comparing Palestinians to cockroaches...or end the occupation?’
    “It is bad enough to be robbed of your land,” said Said, “but to be criminalized for aspirations to resist occupation is maddening.”
    In the post-9/11 environment, he argued, the Bush administration wrongly confuses the terrorism of Osama bin Laden with the Palestinian people’s struggle for liberation. Idiotic labels have been concocted by both sides, he concluded. The Arab/Muslim mind translates “U.S.” as shorthand for “all our ills,” while the U.S. equates Arabs with terrorists.
    Said’s audience laughed as he said he prefers to call the so-called “clash of civilization” the “clash of ignorance.” The West and the Arab/Muslim world are in two dynamic currents, he said, whose narrow encounters must be expanded.
    The 1,000-seat auditorium was packed and an estimated 150 disappointed students were turned away. During the question-and-answer session, it seemed as if half the audience stood in line to query the erudite statesman.
    The first questioner asked Said for his prescription for narrowing the gap between the West and the Arab/Muslim world.
    “You must realize,” replied Said, that “East and West are constructs, not natural objects.
    “The president has drawn a bellicose line across his axis of evil,” he continued. “You’re either for us or against us—which is so undignified. That is terrorism,” Said argued. “We are a society of immigrants from all over the world. That is what makes us strong. We shouldn’t start a fictional identity and go to war. We don’t even have a definition for terrorism at this point.”
    In response to a query about Washington’s refusal to uphold most international protocols such as on land mines, the environment and an international criminal court, Said noted that the U.S. likewise is opposed to international monitors reporting Israeli abuses of the Palestinian population. “The U.S. said it was unbalanced to have monitors watching the Israelis,” he pointed out, “but so far, there are no Palestinians occupying Israeli land [who need to be monitored].”
    Another questioner asked Said if, in light of the American media’s mockery or denigration of Arab/Muslim guests who appear on talk shows, it would not be better to disengage than participate.
    “The last time I was interviewed by Paula Zahn, now that she is a CNN star, she was incredibly rude,” Said responded. “I was ready to walk away. Your generation must speak up and gradually make reporters face facts.
    “The right wing in this country attacks the media for being liberal,” he continued, “although I don’t know what’s liberal about it. If you listen to Tom Brokaw or Dan Rather, you haven’t a notion of what’s going on in the world. I did a survey at the end of the year 2000 on hundreds of stories dealing with the Israeli/Palestinians conflict. Only four of them mentioned Israel’s military occupation. Since the U.S. supports Turkey, the destruction of its Kurdish minority is never mentioned. How many times have you seen a story critical of U.S. aid to Israel?
    “In January, Israeli bulldozers demolished 50 to 70 houses in Gaza, leaving some 500 Palestinians homeless,” Said noted. “The next day, National Public Radio aired an Israeli officer’s claim that the homes were uninhabited or were nests of terrorists targeting Israeli civilians. If the NPR reporter had known any geography of the area, he would have been aware that these weren’t Israeli civilians but illegal settlements in Gaza.
    “Don’t leave it to the U.S. media to report accurate news,” he advised.“You must challenge the moral high road Israel claims it follows. When it cries it is in danger, you must prove it is Sharon who is bombing and that it is the victims who stand firm who deserve aid.
    “You must talk with the Israelis who resist Sharon’s intolerable policies,” Said continued. “It is unconscionable that Colin Powell, the first African-American secretary of state, who knows full well what blacks went through in this nation’s history, demands that the Palestinians must do more to stop terrorism. Large Jewish organizations are beginning to understand that what Sharon is doing is making them less secure. You must address them on this issue.
    “One of the reasons I was an early opponent to the Oslo accords,” he explained, “was that they were a re-packaging of occupation that called for withdrawal from only 18 percent of the West Bank. Our leaders fooled themselves,” stated Said, a member of the Palestine National Council from 1977 to 1991.
    “You don’t negotiate with occupation,” he concluded. “You get rid of it.”
    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

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    Interview with Edward W. Said

    Posted: November 16, 2001


    By David Barsamian
    Urbane and sophisticated, Edward W. Said is in many ways the quintessential New Yorker. His love for the city is palpable. "New York," he says, "plays an important role in the kind of criticism and interpretation which I have done." He mirrors the city's restless energy and diversity. In addition to his great love for literature and his unflagging interest in politics, he is an inveterate devotee of opera and classical music. An accomplished pianist, he opens his home on New York's Upper West Side to artists, writers, and musicians from all over the globe.
    He's been a New Yorker since 1963 when he accepted a position at Columbia, where he now holds the position of University Professor. Born in Jerusalem and educated at schools there and in Cairo, Said came to the U.S. in the early 1950s and attended Princeton and Harvard. There's lots of talk these days about public intellectuals. Much of it is hot air. Edward Said is the real thing. His creative intellectual talents and abilities are infused with passion and a sense of outrage at the hypocrisies, contradictions, and indignities of what passes for political commentary, particularly when it comes to the Middle East. He is no doubt the most prominent spokesperson for the Palestinian cause in the United States.
    His productivity and range of interests are impressive. A relentless and indefatigable worker, he maintains a rigorous schedule while struggling against leukemia. A prolific author, he most recently published Reflections on Exile and Power, Politics, and Culture. Much of his political writing is not only excavating buried memories and affirming the Palestinian presence but also pointing toward a future where peace is possible.
    We have done many interviews over the years, and what always strikes me is his tremendous intellectual energy and, yes, enthusiasm to talk. He remains doggedly hopeful. His oppositional role is "to sift, to judge, to criticize, to choose so that choice and agency return to the individual," he says. He envisions a community that doesn't exalt "commodified interests and profitable commercial goals" but values instead "survivability and sustainability in a human and decent way. Those are difficult goals to achieve. But I think they are achievable." I talked with him by phone in late September.
    Q: The events of September 11 have bewildered and confused many Americans. What was your reaction?
    Edward W. Said: Speaking as a New Yorker, I found it a shocking and terrifying event, particularly the scale of it. At bottom, it was an implacable desire to do harm to innocent people. It was aimed at symbols: the World Trade Center, the heart of American capitalism, and the Pentagon, the headquarters of the American military establishment. But it was not meant to be argued with. It wasn't part of any negotiation. No message was intended with it. It spoke for itself, which is unusual. It transcended the political and moved into the metaphysical. There was a kind of cosmic, demonic quality of mind at work here, which refused to have any interest in dialogue and political organization and persuasion. This was bloody-minded destruction for no other reason than to do it. Note that there was no claim for these attacks. There were no demands. There were no statements. It was a silent piece of terror. This was part of nothing. It was a leap into another realm--the realm of crazy abstractions and mythological generalities, involving people who have hijacked Islam for their own purposes. It's important not to fall into that trap and to try to respond with a metaphysical retaliation of some sort.
    Q: What should the U.S. do?
    Said: The just response to this terrible event should be to go immediately to the world community, the United Nations. The rule of international law should be marshaled, but it's probably too late because the United States has never done that; it's always gone it alone. To say that we're going to end countries or eradicate terrorism, and that it's a long war over many years, with many different instruments, suggests a much more complex and drawn-out conflict for which, I think, most Americans aren't prepared.There isn't a clear goal in sight. Osama bin Laden's organization has spun out from him and is now probably independent of him. There will be others who will appear and reappear. This is why we need a much more precise, a much more defined, a much more patiently constructed campaign, as well as one that surveys not just the terrorists' presence but the root causes of terrorism, which are ascertainable.
    Q: What are those root causes?
    Said: They come out of a long dialectic of U.S. involvement in the affairs of the Islamic world, the oil-producing world, the Arab world, the Middle East--those areas that are considered to be essential to U.S. interests and security. And in this relentlessly unfolding series of interactions, the U.S. has played a very distinctive role, which most Americans have been either shielded from or simply unaware of.
    In the Islamic world, the U.S. is seen in two quite different ways. One view recognizes what an extraordinary country the U.S. is. Every Arab or Muslim that I know is tremendously interested in the United States. Many of them send their children here for education. Many of them come here for vacations. They do business here or get their training here.The other view is of the official United States, the United States of armies and interventions. The United States that in 1953 overthrew the nationalist government of Mossadegh in Iran and brought back the shah. The United States that has been involved first in the Gulf War and then in the tremendously damaging sanctions against Iraqi civilians. The United States that is the supporter of Israel against the Palestinians.
    If you live in the area, you see these things as part of a continuing drive for dominance, and with it a kind of obduracy, a stubborn opposition to the wishes and desires and aspirations of the people there. Most Arabs and Muslims feel that the United States hasn't really been paying much attention to their desires. They think it has been pursuing its policies for its own sake and not according to many of the principles that it claims are its own--democracy, self-determination, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, international law. It's very hard, for example, to justify the thirty-four-year occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. It's very hard to justify 140 Israeli settlements and roughly 400,000 settlers. These actions were taken with the support and financing of the United States. How can you say this is part of U.S. adherence to international law and U.N. resolutions? The result is a kind of schizophrenic picture of the United States.
    Now we come to the really sad part. The Arab rulers are basically unpopular. They are supported by the United States against the wishes of their people. In all of this rather heady mixture of violence and policies that are remarkably unpopular right down to the last iota, it's not hard for demagogues, especially people who claim to speak in the name of religion, in this case Islam, to raise a crusade against the United States and say that we must somehow bring America down.
    Ironically, many of these people, including Osama bin Laden and the mujahedeen, were, in fact, nourished by the United States in the early eighties in its efforts to drive the Soviets out of Afghanistan. It was thought that to rally Islam against godless communism would be doing the Soviet Union a very bad turn indeed, and that, in fact, transpired. In 1985, a group of mujahedeen came to Washington and was greeted by President Reagan, who called them "freedom fighters."These people, by the way, don't represent Islam in any formal sense. They're not imams or sheiks. They are self-appointed warriors for Islam. Osama bin Laden, who is a Saudi, feels himself to be a patriot because the U.S. has forces in Saudi Arabia, which is sacred because it is the land of the prophet Mohammed. There is also this great sense of triumphalism, that just as we defeated the Soviet Union, we can do this. And out of this sense of desperation and pathological religion, there develops an all-encompassing drive to harm and hurt, without regard for the innocent and the uninvolved, which was the case in New York. Now to understand this is, of course, not at all to condone it. And what terrifies me is that we're entering a phase where if you start to speak about this as something that can be understood historically--without any sympathy--you are going to be thought of as unpatriotic, and you are going to be forbidden. It's very dangerous. It is precisely incumbent on every citizen to quite understand the world we're living in and the history we are a part of and we are forming as a superpower.
    Q: Some pundits and politicians seem to be echoing Kurtz in Heart of Darkness when he said, "Exterminate all the brutes."
    Said: In the first few days, I found it depressingly monochromatic. There's been essentially the same analysis over and over again and very little allowance made for different views and interpretations and reflections. What is quite worrisome is the absence of analysis and reflection. Take the word "terrorism." It has become synonymous now with anti-Americanism, which, in turn, has become synonymous with being critical of the United States, which, in turn, has become synonymous with being unpatriotic. That's an unacceptable series of equations. The definition of terrorism has to be more precise, so that we are able to discriminate between, for example, what it is that the Palestinians are doing to fight the Israeli military occupation and terrorism of the sort that resulted in the World Trade Center bombing.
    Q: What's the distinction you're drawing?
    Said: Take a young man from Gaza living in the most horrendous conditions--most of it imposed by Israel--who straps dynamite around himself and then throws himself into a crowd of Israelis. I've never condoned or agreed with it, but at least it is understandable as the desperate wish of a human being who feels himself being crowded out of life and all of his surroundings, who sees his fellow citizens, other Palestinians, his parents, sisters, and brothers, suffering, being injured, or being killed. He wants to do something, to strike back. That can be understood as the act of a truly desperate person trying to free himself from unjustly imposed conditions. It's not something I agree with, but at least you could understand it. The people who perpetrated the terror of the World Trade Center and Pentagon bombings are something different because these people were obviously not desperate and poor refugee dwellers. They were middle class, educated enough to speak English, to be able to go to flight school, to come to America, to live in Florida.
    Q: In your introduction to the updated version of Covering Islam: How The Media and The Experts Determine How We See The Rest of The World, you say: "Malicious generalizations about Islam have become the last acceptable form of denigration of foreign culture in the West." Why is that?
    Said: The sense of Islam as a threatening Other--with Muslims depicted as fanatical, violent, lustful, irrational--develops during the colonial period in what I called Orientalism. The study of the Other has a lot to do with the control and dominance of Europe and the West generally in the Islamic world. And it has persisted because it's based very, very deeply in religious roots, where Islam is seen as a kind of competitor of Christianity.If you look at the curricula of most universities and schools in this country, considering our long encounter with the Islamic world, there is very little there that you can get hold of that is really informative about Islam. If you look at the popular media, you'll see that the stereotype that begins with Rudolph Valentino in The Sheik has really remained and developed into the transnational villain of television and film and culture in general. It is very easy to make wild generalizations about Islam. All you have to do is read almost any issue of The New Republic and you'll see there the radical evil that's associated with Islam, the Arabs as having a depraved culture, and so forth. These are impossible generalizations to make in the United States about any other religious or ethnic group.
    Q: In a recent article in the London Observer, you say the U.S. drive for war uncannily resembles Captain Ahab in pursuit of Moby Dick. Tell me what you have in mind there.
    Said: Captain Ahab was a man possessed with an obsessional drive to pursue the white whale which had harmed him--which had torn his leg out--to the ends of the Earth, no matter what happened. In the final scene of the novel, Captain Ahab is being borne out to sea, wrapped around the white whale with the rope of his own harpoon and going obviously to his death. It was a scene of almost suicidal finality. Now, all the words that George Bush used in public during the early stages of the crisis--"wanted, dead or alive," "a crusade," etc.--suggest not so much an orderly and considered progress towards bringing the man to justice according to international norms, but rather something apocalyptic, something of the order of the criminal atrocity itself. That will make matters a lot, lot worse, because there are always consequences. And it would seem to me that to give Osama bin Laden--who has been turned into Moby Dick, he's been made a symbol of all that's evil in the world--a kind of mythological proportion is really playing his game. I think we need to secularize the man. We need to bring him down to the realm of reality. Treat him as a criminal, as a man who is a demagogue, who has unlawfully unleashed violence against innocent people. Punish him accordingly, and don't bring down the world around him and ourselves.
    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

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    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

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