Steyn has a few choice words on English language problems, based on an important post from Melanie Phillips. It’s hard to get a sharper depiction of how political correctness acts as a form of cultural auto-immune deficiency: you can’t identify the enemy, and you shut down any spontaneous mobilization to defend the body (politic) from its attacks. Solomonia has some equally pertinent remarks on this ridiculous effort to appease the wrong kind of emotions.
Five guys named Mo
The Corner — National Review Online –
By Mark Steyn
If you’re a police commissioner or a government minister, what’s the first thing you should do if a chap with a name such as “Mohammed Asha” or “Muhammad Hanif” turns up in the news in connection with some wacky novelty such as a flaming Jeep Cherokee crashing through the airport concourse?
Britain’s new Prime Minister knew exactly what to do:
Gordon Brown has banned ministers from using the word ‘Muslim’ in connection with the terrorism crisis… The shake-up is part of a fresh attempt to improve community relations and avoid offending Muslims, adopting a more ‘consensual’ tone than existed under Tony Blair.
So did the new Home Secretary [Jacqui Smith] :
Any attempt to identify a murderous ideology with a great faith such as Islam is wrong, and needs to be denied.
In less than six years this has become a time-honored tradition. After the 2005 Tube bombings, the first reaction of Brian Paddick, the deputy assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, was to declare that “Islam and terrorism don’t go together.” After the 2006 Toronto plot to behead the Prime Minister, the Canadian Intelligence Service’s assistant director of operations, Luc Portelance, announced that “it is important to know that this operation in no way reflects negatively on any specific community, or ethnocultural group in Canada.”
In the old days, these coppers would have been looking for the modus operandi, patterns of behavior. But now every little incident anywhere on the planet apparently testifies merely to the glorious mosaic of our multicultural societies. Or as the Associated Press puts it, “Diverse Group Allegedly In British Plot“:
LONDON – They had diverse backgrounds, coming from countries around the globe, but all shared youth and worked in medicine…
Were they really that “diverse”? Hey, who ya gonna believe? The Scotland Yard diversity outreach coordinator or your lyin’ eyes?
Now I find the comment by Jacqui Smith to be the most breathtaking. The “great religion” is beyond any criticism… and any attempt to point out the obvious “must be denied.” How many ways is that a violation of everything that made England a great source of culture — courage, human values, critical intelligence, empiricism?
A former student of mine now working on a thesis at the Joint Military Intelligence College in Washington took out a book from the National Defense Intelligence College Library by Sania Hamady, Temperament and Character of the Arabs. In it he found a warning, neatly hand-written in pencil, admonishing fellow readers to beware of the book’s content. It states,
Note to readers, (1992). This book heavily overgeneralizes [sic] about a culture marked by diversity. Contrasting books worth reading include works by [Margaret] Nydell, [possibly Hisham] Sharabi, and E[dward] Said.
Evidently another critic of Huntington, Patai and other “generalists”, this individual felt compelled to notify future students that this work does not conform to the accepted discourse, and they turn the page at their own peril.
With political correctness dominating discourse even in our Intelligence Research, we are in serious trouble. Sania Hamady is a Lebanese Christian Arab, and her discussion, however it might bruise our politically correct discourse, nonetheless raises important issues about Arab and Muslim character. Here’s what a “progressive” has to say about this book:
The work referred to is “The Temperament and Character of the Arabs,” the only book by Sania Hamady, published in 1960 (in English, by Twayne Publishers). None of the experts on the Middle East whom I asked have ever heard of her, and almost the only mentions of her book (in Hebrew) on the Internet are on sites of the Israeli right. The Hamady book is peculiar, to put it mildly. Put less mildly, Hamady’s book is chockful of prejudices, devoid of any proof and is on the brink of racism.
Bukay quotes selectively the literary sources cited by Hamady on the frequency of the lie in the Arab society, on the notion that the Arab society is a “society of shame” in contrast to the Christian “guilt society.” (This contrast, according to Dr. Ron Kuzar, from the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Haifa, was popular among conservative circles after World War II, and today is common mainly in racist circles). It is also clear to Hamady why the Arabs have no sense of guilt. “The Muslims deny original sin in any form,” writes the Lebanese-born Hamady, who is described in the book as “an adviser for social development in the Protestant Service Bureau.”In short, the Muslims are simply not Christians.
Now part of the problem is that Hamady has some unpleasant things to say about the Arabs, like:
“the Arab is preoccupied with his past. The pleasant memories of its glory serve as a refuge from the painful reality of the present. (p. 217).
But it’s not that Hamady is unsympathetic — clearly there are things she doesn’t like, after all she’s both Christian and educated, and the style of “honor-shame culture” with its alpha-male agonistics, is not her cup of tea. On the contrary, she can be exceptionally respectful of Arab feelings.
Pride is one of the main elements on which Arab individualism rests… It is important to pay tribute to it and to avoid offending it. The Arab is very touchy and his self-esteem is easily bruised. It is hard for him to be objective about himself or to accept calmly someone else’s criticism of him… Facts should not be persented to him nakedly; they should be masked so as to avoid any molestation of his inner self, which should be protected.
Now you may want to call that racist, but that’s only because you don’t think that kind of behavior acceptable, so to accuse a culture of that level of immaturity is a generalized condemnation. What I find fascinating is that the current PC discourse about the Arabs — that Hamady, Patai, de Atkins are racists and Saïd et al. are “humanists” — is actually an implementation of Hamady’s advice: Don’t upset them, don’t criticize them, don’t bruise their extremely sensitive pride. Isn’t that precisely what the British establishment is doing right now?
And isn’t it time we stopped being condescending racists, treating them as children even as we loudly proclaim our respect for them?
The conflict right now divides along two mutually exclusive lines. The hawks say, “let’s get tough, only force will work.” The doves say, “let’s be nice, only talk will work.” How about some verbal confrontations? How about every Western newspaper publishing the Danish Cartoons (with the three fake ones identified as psy-ops incitement) so that Muslims the world over are embarrased by the revolting behavior of their co-religionists, rather than we and decent Muslims are subject to the temper tantrum of the touchiest and most violent of the lot? How about the Pope saying “you’ve got to be kidding!” when the Muslims violently insist he apologize for calling them violent? How about the Brits saying, “We take this level of self-criticism as part and parcel of a decent and tolerant society. If you can’t stand the heat, a) get out of the kitchen, and b) don’t expect us to take your criticism of us seriously until you can take the heat?
Maybe then we won’t look like Dhimmi in the eyes of people who come from an honor-shame culture which has us blinking constantly before their angry glare.