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Editor’s note: Dr. Yasser Dasmabebi holds the Edward Said-Noam Chomsky Linguistics Chair at Abdul Abulbul Amir University in Cairo.
Being a renowned and brilliant linguist such as I am, on October 26, I innocently, and full of optimism and good-will, had published in Front Page Magazine — a war-mongering, racist site if ever there was one, judging from its unsavory readership and ignorant authors! — a glossary of useful terms and expressions meant to help delineate and define what speakers and writers mean when they use certain, shall we say, “explosive” words and phrases when describing so complex a circumstance as, as I wrote, “today’s (and yesterday’s and tomorrow’s) Mid- east.”
Inasmuch as it seems that your culture and mine are teetering on the edge of conflict, I believe that persons of good-will, such as myself, need to do what what we must to make certain that misunderstanding and miscommunication do not precipitate a disastrous war in which we will doubtlessly defeat you, not least since we, and in particular our youth, care so much and you and yours seem to care so little.
Perhaps the fact that we have raised a generation of very, very angry young men has something to do with the fact that that our young men are not allowed to have interaction with girls. (We tell them that attraction to young women is a Zionist plot hatched by evil Jews intent on capturing them in the snare of Shaytan. Talk about impressionable!)
Whatever you think of us, you have to admit that prohibition has been a sensational strategy for recruiting plenty of extremely devoted young men who actually volunteer to strap on explosives in hopes of finding unmutilated maidens waiting for them elsewhere. Pretty cool, huh?! Faith is a powerful incentivizer! And a culture that prohibits deduction certainly needs faith!
So, my only purpose was a peaceful one — to make certain that the reader would not be misled by ignorance or prejudice, or as my wise teacher and predecessor, Dr. Edward Said, coined it, “Orientalism,” the psychological disease or intellectual offense that imagines that the Western cultures are in some way “better than,” or “superior to,” as opposed to simply “different from,” Arabic or Eastern cultures.
In a nutshell, Dr. Said posited that Westerners, because they are not Orientals, can never know how Eastern people think or why they do what they do. They — Westerners — therefore must never interpret or judge the words, intentions or actions of Middle-Easterners, especially the leaders, all of whom are “Men of the People,” serving from the depths of the goodness of their hearts, what is called the Arab Street, which is nothing more than the communal roar for Divine Justice, or for the random murder of Jews or Christians or Hindus or Bahai or Sikhs or Sunnis or Shia or pigs or dogs depending on what’s cooking that day.
When Westerners do so — that is, when Westerners think they know what they’re talking about –, they are not merely mistaken, but also racist. And “racist” is the grand bugaboo of our era. We have learned that if we can persuade that you are racist, we can get you to do anything! Why, you people give money to Hamas and weapons to Hezbollah! What a world!
Dr. Said’s reasoning is that a person making a judgment is inherently arrogant because, by virtue of making any judgment, that person a priori believes that his judgment must be right. And since our judgments are different than yours, we must be wrong.
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