Saturday, September 27, 2003

Edward Said - and how I fell out with WindsOfChange.Net

It is with disappointment that I have to say that one of the first blogs this one linked too,, is now persona non grata. It was an impressively professional outfit, but their recent and deeply unpleasant attack on Edward Said on the occasion of his death warrants the end of blogging relations.

"Columbia professor Edward Said is dead of leukemia, all praise be to Allah. He was 67. I'd commemorate appropriately by going outside to ululate and fire a Kalashnikov in the air" Link

Well - why? From the tone of Joe Katzman's post, the documents referred to, and the various comments, it was clearly because he said the Palestinians had rights. And it's frankly alarming that anyone writing about him could decide that Arabs are basically barbarians - ululating (like Hollywood Indians) and letting off guns - without apparently feeling any sense of discord with respect to his work on Western perceptions of the East. Nothing could back him up better than outrageous rubbish like this, from one of the blogs WOC referred to:

"Patai's point was that the Sandhurst educated Hussein did not understand that Nassar's straight faced though flowery declarations were not statements of fact, but statements of what he would have liked the facts to have been. Hussein actually believed Nasser was telling "the truth". Had Hussein had a "normal" Arab education, he would have understood that Nassar's statements were not something to be acted upon.


After it became too apparent for denial that the Egyptian air force had been destroyed, it became imperative that it should not have been the Israeli defence forces that had inflicted the blow. Nassar and Hussein calmly discussed by telephone, inconveniently tapped by the CIA, how they would blame this on (non-existent) British and American intervention on behalf of the Israelis, a plot Lyndon Johnson branded "the big lie".

Compared to Nassar's inducing King Hussein to put his forces at risk on the basis of assertions that turned out not to be factual, "Comical Ali's" antics were not comical at all, and not so interpreted by those viewing them through the lens of traditional Arab culture and the meaning it gives to assertive declarations.

And when all is said and done, Edward Said, courtesy of the Irish Times, demonstrates for us that these cultural traits survive a transposition to a professorship at Columbia University. He is no doubt in full earnest in declaring his assertions to be logical and truthful.

Whether we would choose to rely on them as facts is another matter."

So - all Arabs are liars. Got that?

And it just gets better. From Mr. Katzman himself:

". But there is a line for me across which I don't feel constrained by social conventions re: the dead - and Said crossed it.

Chomsky is also someone's college professor relative, and you could say the same of Sendero Luminoso's leader Guzman. So "College professor dad" is not by itself an imprimatur of harmlessness or virtue.

Nor is meeting someone and finding them to be nice. Many Jews commented, in all seriousness and after the Holocaust, on the fact that Adolf Eichmann was a "nice guy" in person. It means nothing.

Now, having established those principles there is a big difference within the comparison set. Guzman and Eichmann killed people, or ordered their deaths. Chomsky and Said do not, confining their activities to trying to prevent others from defending themselves. That is still a moral distinction of significance, and should be acknowledged."

Really? An impressive and gracious concession, having found it necessary to compare Said with Eichmann in the first place.

"That said, in terms of their effect on the ground the distinction between being the prime excuse maker, denier, and apologist vs. an active terrorist or agent of genocide is somewhat blurred. The one enables the other, and thereby inherits some of the other's moral taint"

Go! Just go! No more!

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