The Children of Edward Said

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Westernized crypto-Islamist Tariq Ramadan, an idol of the cultural left, passes himself off as a Muslim reformer but strongly implies in Western Muslims and the Future of Islam that Islam is a superior religion that will outclass Judaism and Christianity. According to an interview in the New Statesman for June 21, 2004, Ramadan believes that Islam can infiltrate and conquer the West by initially peaceful means, continuing immigration, and the “duty for Muslims…to take Islam from the periphery of European culture to the centre.” The warrant here is clearly Koran 9:33 in which Allah sends forth his prophet “to make the true faith supreme over all religions.”

Ramadan argues that what should “be called into question” is not Islam in itself or the violence it is said to engender but “the immigration policies of Western countries and their social and urban policies,” which give “rise to vexatious, discriminatory, and unjust administrative measures”—a conclusion straight out of the pages of Orientalism. In a speech given to an Islamic circle of North America (ICNA) fundraiser on July 27 of this year in Dallas, Ramadan took the next logical step. “It should be us,” he told the crowd, “with our understanding of Islam, our principles, colonizing the United States of America.” Ipse dixit.

John Esposito, director of the Prince Alwaleel Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, deserves special mention. Esposito writes in his co-edited volume Islam and Democracy that “[i]t is important to examine the conceptual resources within Islam for democratization” and to see that “the term ‘democracy’ is capable of multiple interpretations and applications.” Esposito’s “democracies” are like Groucho Marx’s “principles”: “If you don’t like them, I have others.” The fact that there is no true democracy anywhere in the Islamic world, not even in Indonesia or Turkey which are frequently cited as democratic beacons and signs of the reformability of Islam, does not constitute a problem for someone who is funded by Saudi money—no more than it does for Jimmy Carter whose Peace Center floats on Wahhabi cash.

Esposito has assumed the mantle of Edward Said to become Senior Academic Clatterer among today’s pro-Islamic intellectual synod. In his most recent book, The Future of Islam, he asserts against all the evidence that “religion will remain a significant political and social force for reform” and endorses the convenient fiction that serves the interests of Western temporizers, namely that the “threat to the West will not come from civilizational differences but from the political and socioeconomic reality that breeds radicalism.” The degree of cognitive dissonance exemplified by such statements, however typical of our Islamic infatuates, paid proselytizers and professional flunkies, is really quite remarkable. Obviously infected by what Bernard Lewis in a 1954 essay for The Royal Institute of International Affairs called “the romantic and apologetic presentation of Islam” that discounts the fact that “the political history of Islam is one of almost unrelieved autocracy,” Esposito concludes by stressing, Obama-like, our “shared values, dreams and aspirations.”

Indeed, no catalogue of Said’s innumerable acolytes would be complete without mentioning Barack Obama. The Clatterer-in-Chief studied under Said at Columbia in the period between 1981 and 1983, taking at least one course from his presumptive mentor. He was later photographed with him, seated at the same table and engaged in earnest conversation at a 1998 Arab American Action Network dinner in Chicago, where Said delivered the keynote speech calling, as a news account has it, for a campaign “against Israeli apartheid.” Being someone’s dinner companion is not an offense. But when that “someone” is Edward Said, a former preceptor, a pro-Arab and anti-Israeli firebrand, and about to give a scandalous address, there is room for suspicion.

As Andrew McCarthy writes in National Review Online, “Obama plainly maintained some sort of tie with Said,” whose intimate circle also included Obama’s friends, Weather Underground terrorists Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn and former Palestinian activist Rashid Khalidi. Dinesh D’Souza in The Roots of Obama’s Rage points out that Said “seems to have had a lasting influence on Obama: some of Obama’s writings are highly resonant with Said’s themes and arguments.” And Stanley Kurtz, author of Radical-in Chief, for his part sees “a sincere interest in Said’s radical views.” True, the details of the relation between the president and his teacher remain somewhat shrouded since Obama has steadfastly refused to release his Columbia transcripts and his graduating thesis—a suppression which also generates suspicion.

Whatever the exact nature of the liaison may be, Obama’s latest policy decisions favoring the Palestinians, his insistence that any peace agreement be based on Israel’s indefensible 1967 borders, and the hard line he has generally adopted to Israel’s distinct disadvantage suggest a profound connection with Said’s political convictions—as Cashill reports, Said served for many years on the Palestine National Conference, “alongside…Yassir Arafat and still harder core radicals from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the terrorist group that hijacked the Achille Lauro.” Moreover, there can be little doubt that Obama’s frequent overtures to the Islamic world, his notorious “apology tour,” his telling bow to the Saudi king, the obsequious flattery of his Cairo speech and his warming rapport with the Muslim Brotherhood all indicate a strong affinity with Said’s ideological perspective, as expounded not only in Orientalism but in a pulpiteering and deeply-skewed successor volume The Question of Palestine. (True to form, Said there extravagantly praises his friend, Israel Shahak, one of the most viperous Jewish Jew-haters of modern times whose anti-Talmudic and anti-Israeli Jewish History, Jewish Religion has made a major contribution toward the effort to disentitle the Jewish state.) In any event, it appears that the faux apostolic tradition continues at the highest levels.

The question now presents itself. What stance should the justly skeptical take up? But how we should properly respond to our Clatterers is not that difficult to determine. They should be read or attended to not with the proverbial grain of salt but the entire salt mine. Their strictures and admonitions invariably mislead and can be counted on to exacerbate a deteriorating political situation. Emerging from the ambience of Orientalism, some consciously, others unconsciously, they swivel between disingenuousness and blindness. Their “scales are light” and the verdict of history will be pronounced against them.

The four conspicuous figures I have cited are representative of a legionary host. Whatever their public profile, the spawn of Edward Said proliferate everywhere one may look, even though, as Makiya has meticulously unpacked for us in Cruelty and Silence, Said’s “depiction of the state of Arabic culture is simply untrue.” But the day of retribution is not all that far off. As events regress, the world will not be kind to the Clatterers, who “shall be like scattered moths” and whose “abode shall be the abyss.” They have stoked the “blazing fire” that will consume them. It is only a matter of time.

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  • Chezwick_mac

    Warraq's deconstruction of 'Orientalism' was both thorough and devastating. He clarified the central premise of Said's utterly racist construct, that Western man – by his very essence – was/is unqualified to offer critical scrutiny of Islam.

    Imagine for a moment an inversion of the equation…that the Muslim scholar, by virtue of his very identity, is intrinsically unqualified to offer critical scrutiny of the Western world. Such a premise would result in a cacophony of protest the likes of which would bring down the proverbial house. NO ONE could possibly survive in academia after having postulated such a premise. And yet, Edward Said has the MESA Chair embroidered with his name.

    Warraq adroitly points out that much of Western study of Islam came from German scholars. Germany was a country with no colonial presence in the Arab-Persian world…and therefore, its academics had no agenda to serve other than pure, scholarly inquiry.

    No matter. In Said's universe, a German scholar was no different than a British colonialist; both were Western, both were white….and therefore, neither could possibly be objective about the non-West, the non-white.

    More than any other single individual, Edward Said succeeded in poisoning the intellectual atmosphere on Western campuses with his cultural and racial bigotry. One hopes that over time, sanity will prevail in the universities and his views will be thoroughly repudiated.

    Than again, I'm not holding my breath.

    • Raymond in DC

      Those of us who studied international and middle east politics but left the academy before the release of Orientalism should consider ourselves lucky. Most of us still have the good sense to recognize Said's thesis as the crock it is. Unfortunately, our words carry little weight against his followers who today dominate the academy and hold sway over our decision and opinion makers.

  • jacob

    But though, our Western pseudointellectuals such as this Norwegian moron,
    leftists and liberals all kind, keep eating up SAID's brayings and outright lies
    by the bulldozerfull….

    Will it ever be eradicated ???

    It would take a revolution to accomplish it, short of making a clean slate of all
    biased tenured idiots

  • StephenD

    I have a problem with your article right out of the gate. That is your, perhaps unintentional, legitimizing of a passage from the Qur'an, Surah 101. I would contend that there is NOTHING in there worthy to be proclaimed as prophetic; “Noise Makers” though there be, in all ages. The best capture of their ilk is found in your quote, "what Francis Bacon in his Novum Organum called “Idols of the Theatre”—faults arising from received systems of thought—should be seen for what it is, a form of intellectual evasion that spares critic…."
    "Idols of the Theatre" That is probably the best description of these Noise Makers offered.
    They are not legitimate. Based on a false premise, they can never be legitimate.

  • tanstaafl

    The west has all manner of Quislings in its midst.

  • xlent

    So….Said is just another plain ol socio/commio same o same o???? They are sort of everywhere it seems.

  • Mike in VA

    Without question, Ibn Warraq's "Defending the West" is one of the greatest intellectual works of our time. No library is complete without this masterly deconstruction of the brazenly dishonest faux-scholarship of Edward Said and his acolytes. The West will be forever in Ibn Warraq's debt for the invaluable service he has performed researching and writing this brilliant masterpiece.

    Defending the West: A Critique of Edward Said's Orientalism

  • KathleenP

    Jostein Gardner's novel Sophie's World (I read it mainly because I lived in Japan at the time and English reading material was scarce, and my father, whose opinions I generally respected, had recommended it) was basically a pretentious and frequently incoherent load of tripe. Thus it gives one a certain satisfaction to realize what a pillcock he truly is. Leftard dhimmi Norwegians like him fully deserve the dismal future that is in store for them. I just feel sorry for the majority who never asked for it.

  • Amused

    Requirements for recognizing islam for the totalitarian , anti-thetical to human rights , barbaric cult that it is : an 8th grade reading level ,and to read the Q'uran , Sunna and haddiths .
    After doing so , no sane man in his right mind could come to the conclusion , that islam is "a religion of peace " , but rather an enemy of all that is civil and humane .It is in fact an existential threat to the entire world , and it's ethos the most dangerous that I have ever encountered ,surpassing even that of the nazis in that it is adhered to by so many more than the mere 6 million or so Germans of the nazi Regime . And if mere reading of those works is not enough , simple observation of the behavior of mohamedans around the globe can lead to only one conclusion .

    • nina

      Isn't it interesting! "Jews" in lower-case, Germans in upper-case. Subconscious? Na!

  • zsqpwxxeh

    I had the dubious honor of being a student in one of Crazy Eddie's few undergrad courses, "The English Novel," at Columbia in the early 80s. (Yes, he was actually a professor of English Lit.) The class, composed of about 75 students, hated him for his contemptuous, sneering, almost psychotically poor lecture style and the fact that he was totally unavailable–everything was done by his grad student aides. He would rush in just before class, proclaim his wisdom to the last rows of seats, maybe haughtily answer a question or two, and dash off at the bell, one surmises to some anti-Israel conference or demonstration.

    His fanatic pro-Arab stance was well-known. He was the most famous prof on campus because of "Orientalism," which had already become canonical for the dominant left. Some of us grew to despise him so much on a personal level that we wore yarmulkes to class even if non-Jewish or toted Israeli army-marked bookbags just to get his goat. He pretended not to notice, and indeed he made no attempt whatever to get to know his students. An absolute schmuck.

    • Mike in VA

      It's interesting to note that two of the Left's most prominent "intellectual" charlatans – Noam Chomsky and Edward Said – achieved much of their renown operating outside of their fields of expertise (and it certainly shows).

  • Amused

    Since when is bigotry and jew hate limited to academia ? I have known many from childhood who never set foot in a university nor heard a professor 's lecture . Hitler wrote a book , but jews had been persecuted before the printing press . To think anti-semitism is espoused in the halls of higher learning and from there propelled to the masses , is an underestimation of the problem .

    • nina

      Antisemitism was always promulgated by the upper classes, even in antiquity. As most of the people were illiterate, the learned (not always) clergy told them what to think, or more correctly, what to feel.

  • steven l

    A lot more Muslims should move to Norway. They are use to oil for one and the rest will follow. Just like in Belgium where some areas are restricted exclusively to Muslims. Native Belgians are persona non-grata or afraid to venture into these "verboten" areas. To destroy the right in the US, like the socialists did in Europe, the left will join anyone including Islamists (they of course will claim that these Islamists are not Islamists). Political correctness obliges!

  • DrAvrington

    Fabulous critique but What's a "Palestinian"? Just wondering considering neither the regions of Palaestina nor Palestine were ever countries, states or nations…..

  • Robert

    Edward Said was too intelligent and scholarly to know that he wasn't hyperbolizing or outrightly prevaricating. Towards the end of his life, he was highly critical of Arafat, embraced the two-state solution (implicit recognition of Israel) and rued out loud the fact that there was no compelling Palestinian narrative.

    I believe for the sake and cause of a founding myth, he privately (intellectually) decided that the means (the myth, or the 'lie') would justify the ends. Since in the public mind there now exists the entity of the Palestinian people, underwritten by a highly effective and sympathetic founding myth (Israel brutally expelled the Palestinians from their land), Said must be given an A + for his life's work, that is he should be judged on what he set out to accomplish. The history of emerging nationalisms and nationhoods is inseparable from the reflex practice of demonizing 'the other.' Why should a nascent Palestine be expected to play by a different set of rules?. If and when Palestine achieves statehood, it will be in large part due to Said's maneuvers — the stuff-in-waiting of history and legend.

    • aspacia

      Robert, what valid sources can I link to regarding your claim?

      • Robert

        Sources. Not off hand; I'm recalling what I read perhaps ten years ago. Re first para claims, perhaps his last essays or interviews with Barsamian. He also singled out the corruption of Arafat and cronies.

        Re para #2, pure conjecture.
        Despite the A + grade, I mostly agree with Solway's position. I think Orientalism is a sham. He's more persuasive when discussing literature (Culture and Imperialism) and singing the praises of Opus 111.

        • aspacia

          I will have to locate valid sources as I have never read this.

    • Mike in VA

      Edward Said too scholarly?

      Now, there's an amusing thought…

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