PC, Prohibited Analysis, and the “Arab Mind”: More from Green’s thesis

In the version I’m revising for publication, this section is now called “Discouraged Analysis.” This section is taken from a chapter called “Flawed Assumptions and a Poor Understanding of the Threat”, which opens by explaining that the National Security Strategy (2006) is based on some PC, but probably incorrect notions about Islam. Hence the below…

PROHIBITED ANALYSIS

The national security strategists do not make their assumptions in a vacuum. They do so in the context of an intellectual environment that pre-ordains some conclusions and discourages others. In essence, there are accepted judgments Westerners may levy with or without support, and there are judgments deemed unacceptable despite support. It is the unintended byproduct of a benevolent, intellectual environment designed to correct a human history filled with uninformed, unjustified, and unfortunate bigotry. However, rather than removing moral judgments from intellectual pursuits altogether — and this would be a prudent philosophy for achieving objectivity — Western intelligentsia, including mainstream media and academia, allows penetrating, sometimes derisive critiques of its own culture while disallowing it of other cultures.

Raphael Patai’s The Arab Mind has to be the most enduring example of a solid, if imperfect, work routinely rejected by modern scholars as “emblematic of a bygone era,” Orientalist á la Edward Said’s definition, racist, “lurid,” and, like Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations, too general to be accurate or of any use. Critics deride neo-conservatives in the current administration for reading it; some of the more polemic critics claim it “…provided the intellectual backdrop for the torture and sexual abuse that took place at Abu Ghraib.”[1]

Rejecting Patai’s work as a disfavored “type of thinking,” one anthropologist ironically dismisses it as “culture talk,” while another claims “[Patai] can no longer be taken seriously.” In true, universalist form, critic Emram Qureshi suggests, “Rather than plumbing some mythical ‘Arab mind,’ we should affirm the shared humanity that transcends our differences and binds us all together.” Lee Smith, whom National Public Radio interviewed without contest, eloquently demonstrates the accepted discourse on Patai:

The very title of The Arab Mind suggests that it’s possible, and desirable, to reduce a set of cultural ideas and circumstances to a single concept. Patai’s term is more than the vulgar shorthand of mass politics (e.g., “the black community”). It belongs to an old tradition that classified races according to their ostensibly characteristic traits, a field pioneered by 19th-century European writers and shared by, among others, T.E. Lawrence. “They were a limited, narrow-minded people, whose inert intellects lay fallow in incurious resignation.”[2]

Racism-driven inquiry certainly did leave an indelible mark on “the academic mind.” The rejection of obviously flawed and bigoted analysis from the 19th century, however, has produced its own problems. Analysts are now required to assume the universality of human character and prohibited from inquiries like Patai’s, lest they be lumped in with the likes of 19th century bigots.

The problem, of course, is that there are differences between cultures and religions that affect behavior and judgments—this cannot be gainsaid. Moreover, it deprives such terms as “Arab” and “Western” of any utility by picking them apart with incessant particularization. It could be inappropriate to use the term American, for instance, because there are fifty diverse states, hundreds of counties in some of them, thousands of towns and cities, as well as a wealth of cultures and subcultures — in the United States alone. Because it would be difficult to find many U.S. citizens who conform to every character trait considered quintessentially American, the term American can have no use, so the argument goes.

Huntington, who posits that the post-Cold War world will be characterized by conflict between different manifestations of the highest social order, the civilization, often endures that particular criticism. Critics maintain that, like Patai, he is too general and does not account for variances within civilizations. Islam is, after all, a “big tent” with many belief systems and over one billion adherents.[3]

There must be accounting for the divisions within Islam that appear to be working against each other. Additionally, as mentioned above, the so-called “vast majority” of Muslims do not support terrorism and, by extension, it is believed they do not see themselves necessarily in conflict with the West. The assumed universal human values that drive cultures toward pragmatic relationships are evidenced by the many examples of peaceful East-West interactions, such as our relations with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, or Morocco.

On the first point, that of Huntington and Patai waxing too general, most critics prematurely reject the utility of generalization as an analytical tool and forget both authors understood intra-civilizational divisions. Huntington writes:

The culture of a village in southern Italy may be different from that of a village in northern Italy, but both will share in a common Italian culture that distinguishes them from German villages. European communities, in turn, will share cultural features that distinguish them from Arab or Chinese communities. Arabs, Chinese and Westerners, however, are not part of any broader cultural entity. They constitute civilizations.[4]

At no point does Huntington claim the variances within Islam, or the West for that matter, do not exist. Rather, he seeks to back up the analyst’s perspective in order to form the broadest possible understanding of trends. Likewise, neither does Patai suggest every Arab psyche conforms to a single concept without deviation; he is trying to give the layperson an abridged familiarization of a broad and proud culture. Patai is deliberately general, writing, “…my portraiture of the Arab mind did not reflect day-to-day events, but was an analysis of overall trends discernible from a long-range perspective….”[5] He explicitly states, “…there is a general tendency that can be widely observed, not an iron rule without exceptions.”[6]

Yet universalists ironically invoke the exceptions to debunk cultural analysis — ironic because the underlying assumption with universalism is that all peoples are fundamentally the same. As Qureshi said, “We should affirm the shared humanity that transcends our differences and binds us all together.” Canada’s Secretary of State for Multiculturalism would have agreed, having once stated in a speech at the Atlantic Multicultural Conference, “Through my many experiences I have come to learn that, at heart, most people want the same thing — we are united in the pursuit of a just and compassionate society.”[7]

It is believed that pointing out the non-conforming example is enough to deconstruct the generalist’s greater observations. Many of Patai’s critics, like those of Huntington, also seem to be reacting to anticipated arguments rather than those actually given. He is believed to paint “…an overwhelmingly negative picture of the Arabs,” though upon a closer examination the book appears uneven but generally sympathetic.[8] Accusing him of a particular type of thinking, the critics’ modus operandi is to pull Patai’s material out of a box and repack it according to the “Orientalist” or “racist” paradigm they are inclined to see.

The late Edward Said played a vital, if unintended, role in the creation of this paradigm. In 1978 he published Orientalism¸ positing that Western understandings of the Middle East, those of Europe in particular, grew out of and were defined by a colonial mindset and relative power. “My contention is that Orientalism [the study of the Middle East, among other things] is fundamentally a political doctrine willed over the Orient because the Orient was weaker than the West….” This mindset began in the late 18th century when Europe began its colonial adventures in earnest. It developed substantially in the 19th, when, Said noted, “…every European, in what he could say about the Orient, was consequently a racist, an imperialist, and almost totally ethnocentric.”[9] The legacy of this mindset, Said argues, still runs strong through contemporary academic, media, and government circles.

Said explains well the dark lineage of Orientalism, and he adequately demonstrates that negative “Oriental” stereotypes can still be found, but he allows for no possibility that Western analysis of the Middle East can be correct. For him, the Western position of power over the Middle East still leads to portrayals of the Arabs as “greedy, barbarous, and cruel,”[10] and few, if any, analysts can shed this perception. According to Said, the work of authoritative Western academics, including Patai and Bernard Lewis, cannot be separated from the greater pejorative Western perspective of the Middle East and therefore cannot be read seriously.

Taking Said’s and others’ criticisms to heart, the Western intelligentsia is now quick to assume the members of every culture are fundamentally moderate, want similar things, and will react in similar ways to given circumstances. Stephen Lambert, author of Y: Islamic Sources of Revolutionary Conduct, points out the prohibition against qualitative analysis in Western, particularly U.S., methodological culture. The emphasis today rests largely on quantitative, empirical analysis that does not lend itself well to potentially negative judgments. Potentially unfavorable, qualitative observations or conclusions about other cultures are invariably met with the truism, “Well, we (Westerners) do it too,” an axiom [of moral equivalence – rl] designed to shut down an argument by morally paralyzing the advocate.

The axiom also implies that, aside from the cultural differences we are compelled to celebrate, there are no differences that can lead to diversity in action or thinking. It is, as Lambert states, a “myopia that resides not only within the Intelligence Community, but also in the policymaking community as a whole….”[11] The natural consequence is a type of logic demonstrated well by Kenneth Ballen, head of Terror Free Tomorrow. He implies terrorism is the result of faulty Western policies and lack of attention to goodwill initiatives:

Our surveys show that not only do Muslims reject terrorism as much if not more than Americans, but even those who are sympathetic to radical ideology can be won over by positive American actions that promote goodwill and offer real hope.[12]

A personal anecdote further illustrates this point: I recently borrowed a book from the National Defense Intelligence College Library. Inside the book was 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 about a culture marked by diversity. Contrasting books worth reading include works by [Margaret] Nydell, [possibly Hisham] Sharabi, and E. 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 therefore they should not take it seriously.

This approach to understanding the genesis and continuance of problems in the Middle East must be discarded. Analytical prohibitions and moral equivalency are overreactions to the darker elements of Orientalism noted by Said, and a universalist form of mirror-imaging. Although over-generalization has its dangers, so too does over-particularization. A Shiite may laud the politics of Lebanese Hezbollah and denounce that of al Qaida, just as a relatively secular Palestinian may be lukewarm toward the Islamification coveted by Hamas, but few of these diverse elements are significantly different when it comes to conflict with the West. Analysts would be mistaken to assume that lack of religious or cultural unity on one issue necessarily means a lack of unity on another.

[1] Emram Qureshi, “Misreading the Arab Mind: The Dubious Guidebook to Middle East Culture That’s on the Pentagon’s Reading List,” The Boston Globe, online ed., 30 May 2004, accessed 15 May 2007.

[2] Lee Smith, “Inside The Arab Mind: What’s wrong with the White House’s book on Arab nationalism,” Slate Magazine, online ed., 27 May 2004, accessed 15 May 2007.

[3] “How Many Muslims Are in the US and the Rest of the World,” ReligiousTolerance.org, accessed 23 April 2007.

[4] Samuel Huntington, “Clash of Civilizations,” Foreign Affairs 72, no. 3 (1993): 24.

[5] Raphael Patai, The Arab Mind (Long Island City: Hatherleigh Press, 2002), xix.

[6] Patai, xxiii.

[7] Jean Augustine, Secretary of State (Multiculturalism) (Status of Women), “Speaking notes on the occasion of the Atlantic Multicultural Conference,” speech delivered in Halifax, 08 November 2003, accessed 08 June 2008.

[8] “The Arab Mind,” Catholic New Times, online ed., 4 July 2004, accessed 15 May 2007.

[9] Edward Said, Orientalism (New York: Vintage Books, 1979), 204.

[10] Lawrence of Arabia, starring Peter O’Toole and Alec Guinness, directed by David Lean, Columbia Pictures, 1962.

[11] Stephen Lambert, Y: Islamic Sources of Revolutionary Conduct (Washington, DC: Joint Military Intelligence College, 2005), 8.

[12] Kenneth Ballen, “The Myth of Muslim Support for Terror,” The Christian Science Monitor, online ed., 23 February 2007, accessed 14 May 2007.

[13] Stephen Coughlin, “The Essential Mirror Image: Draft,” draft briefing, Washington D.C., 9 November 2005.

[14] Lambert, 3.

[15] Ellen Laipson, “While America Slept,” Foreign Affairs 82, no. 1 (2003): 143.

Comments by RL:

Part of the story of the last fifteen years is the reception of Huntington’s book (widely negative) and its stunning prophetic accuracy. Similarly the Patai book has important things to say about the “Arab mind” (or what we Annales historians might call, the Arab mentality), but he was the object of an all-out assault, dripping sarcasm, contemptuous dismissal. (Note that he also wrote a book called the Jewish Mind, so the implication that the very title was racist is silly.)

The political correctness that Green discovers in the annotations to the book — what book? — reflect two disastrous attitudes. On the one hand, the sense of obligation to put down a book that might actually inform an intelligence officer about a different culture; on the other the recommendation of a book like Said’s which is full of deeply deceptive generalzations and is designed to paralyze our ability to see the differences between our (rather unique) culture and one that is almost as different from ours as possible.

In any case, I think that Stuart is (understandably) kind to Said when he says that:

Said explains well the dark lineage of Orientalism, and he adequately demonstrates that negative “Oriental” stereotypes can still be found, but he allows for no possibility that Western analysis of the Middle East can be correct. For him, the Western position of power over the Middle East still leads to portrayals of the Arabs as “greedy, barbarous, and cruel,”[10] and few, if any, analysts can shed this perception. According to Said, the work of authoritative Western academics, including Patai and Bernard Lewis, cannot be separated from the greater pejorative Western perspective of the Middle East and therefore cannot be read seriously.

Said reduces all Western study of the Orient to this caricature of malevolence. Many of the “Orientalists” Said trashes were lovers of the Arab world, people whose dictionaries and encyclopedias are still used by Arabs today, and anything they’ve come up with to replace them are questionably partisan. Some, like Richard Burton, were so familiar with Arab and Muslim ways that they successfully made the Hajj to Mecca, pretending to be Muslim Arabs, an impersonation that would have been fatal had it been discovered.

There is nothing remotely like the hard work and fascination with which Westerners studied the Arab world on the other side. On the contrary, the Arab world’s attitude, the things they think and “know” about the West, represent a paltry and deeply distorted vision, dominated by their own cultural insecurities.

Said’s book is so intellectually dishonest that I wonder whether he’s a conscious or unconscious demopath. In essence, he insists that anyone who characterizes the Arab world as “different from” the West is somehow a racist (even if he thinks the Arab world is superior to the West). The demopathic quality comes from his insistence that somehow Westerners have to be as pure and un-ego-involved as possible, viewing the “Orient” while he encourages the most grotesque stereotypes about the West.

The intellectual tragedy of the late 20th, early 21st century West is how successful Said has been in colonizing the Western mind — and academia — with his demopathic logorrhea.

On Said, see Ibn Warraq, Defending the West: A Critique of Edward Said’s Orientalism, and David Irwin, Dangerous Knowledge: Orientalism and Its Discontents. I’ll be teaching these books this Spring in my graduate seminar.

38 Responses to PC, Prohibited Analysis, and the “Arab Mind”: More from Green’s thesis

  1. [...] Excerpt from: PC, Prohibited Analysis, and the “Arab Mind”: More from Green’s thesis [...]

  2. E.G. says:

    This approach to understanding the genesis and continuance of problems in the Middle East must be discarded.

    Is it my poor understanding or is the approach that (certainly!) must be discarded also self contradictory? Tells us to look at the trees, but ignore the forest. Then draws on a forest view to suggest what the appropriate conclusions about each tree should be.

  3. Stu says:

    E.G.

    Yes, exactly, which is why I say, “…universalists ironically invoke the exceptions to debunk cultural analysis — ironic because the underlying assumption with universalism is that all peoples are fundamentally the same.”

  4. E.G. says:

    Thanks Stu,

    I was about to have a dissonance attack…

    Are you familiar with Matthew Rabin’s 1991 paper “Cognitive dissonance and social change”?

  5. This chapter jumps out at me with several interesting ideas – perhaps since I just finished Warraq’s “Defending the West” not too long ago and read Patai’s “The Arab Mind” last fall.

    While I generally approve of generalization as an analytical tool it is important, I believe, to be aware of the dangers of cultural generalization. We are designed by evolution to believe that our tribe is more virtuous and superior to others – but especially with respect to our adversaries and enemies.

    Therefore, we will readily admit any evidence into our belief system that supports that view and we’ll be very skeptical of evidence that contradicts it. (confirmation bias).

    meanwhile, the enlightenment has spread universalist egalitarian values that denigrate tribal emotions and behavior as parochial and backward. It has cast them as unenlightened and esp. as immoral. We recognize this moral trend today as multiculturalism

    Foreign policy narratives that don’t allow any critical views of other cultures yet encourage such views of our own – are the result of this anti-tribal morality.

    The premise of the paper EG cites above is that when society makes an immoral behavior more guilt-ridden and painful, that the forces of cognitive dissonance will cause people to redefine the behavior as moral rather than give it up and the behavior will (can?) even increase in that society.

    I’ve ordered a copy of the paper but I’d like to know (esp. from anyone who has read it, EG?) why we don’t see Western societies becoming more mono-cultural rather than multi-cultural. I’ve got my own theories for this but I’d like to hear yours first.

  6. oao says:

    i am beginning to discern a surplus of academic treatment of rather mundane issues. careful.

  7. oao said, i am beginning to discern a surplus of academic treatment of rather mundane issues. careful.

    Right. Let’s get back to how Shrillery is such a scumbag. ;)

  8. oao, excuse my sarcasm above, it was too inviting an opportunity. But I take your point.

  9. nelson says:

    When in 2003 I wrote Said’s obituary for my newspaper, maybe the only negative text on him to be published in the country’s pres, 187 of our most famous intellectuals, writers and artists sent the paper not an answer, but a protest where, besides calling me a warmonger and a racist, they basically asked my boss to fire me (he didn’t). Even in such a far away place as my country, Said became a saint and whatever he wrote is holy write, above criticism.

    However, Said’s main point is quite simple: according to him, the Palestinian cause in special and the Arab cause in general are right now central elements in mankind’s fight for a better world, a better future, social justice etc. Palestinian and Arab nationalism is not a limited or restricted cause, but rather a universal one, maybe the only universal cause nowadays. Thus, whatever helps or aids the Palestinians/Arabs is good for the whole world and is also the right thing to do. If you disagree (or have your doubts about it), then you’re worse than reactionary, you are a true racist.

  10. Cynic says:

    Nelson,

    Did you post something about it on Europundit?
    I vaguely recall something at the time because of an argument I had with a Lebanese Christian, who lauded Said for throwing stones at Israel from the Lebanese border, when I brought up the bestial behaviour of the PLO towards Lebanese Christians during the 70s.

  11. oao says:

    the Palestinian cause in special and the Arab cause in general are right now central elements in mankind’s fight for a better world, a better future, social justice etc.

    yeah, right, you can count on the arabs for civilization, justice, human rights, freedom, etc. each and every one of the arab states is a symbol and perfection of civilization.

    and said, who lied about his background, is an intellectual.

    the sad is that’s the direction of the future.

  12. oao says:

    Right. Let’s get back to how Shrillery is such a scumbag. ;)

    1st, i did not say scumbag. 2nd, are you suggesting that all my comments are about that? 3rd, over-academization of subjects does not enlighten, it obscures. i should know, with 14+ years of academia, which I left in quite some disgust.

    I used to have a knack for this sort of thing, until i realized what i was doing and promised myself no more.
    academic treatments are for incestuous use by academics, not public consumption.

  13. Cynic says:

    oao,

    Who said intellectuals have to have integrity and be honest?

    Those I refer to:
    Their intellectualism sometimes is defined by their posturing, especially if they are talking down to humble folk. If they get most uppity if they are “contradicted” then they are surely not intellectuals.
    They can “shout” but cannot discuss.
    Their condescension is gross. Enough Said.

  14. oao says:

    oao, excuse my sarcasm above, it was too inviting an opportunity. But I take your point.

    i actually replied to that before you added this, but the software for tis site disappeared it into the spam hole and RL has not salvaged it this time.

    i spent 15+ years in academia and had a good knack for this sort of thing until I realized what I was doing and promised myself no more. it is also one reason I left academia, among others.

  15. oao says:

    Who said intellectuals have to have integrity and be honest?

    i was being facetious. he is regarded as an intellectual.

    Those I refer to:
    Their intellectualism sometimes is defined by their posturing, especially if they are talking down to humble folk. If they get most uppity if they are “contradicted” then they are surely not intellectuals.
    They can “shout” but cannot discuss.
    Their condescension is gross. Enough Said.

    hey, after 15+ years in academia, I had enough of them. that’s another reason i left.

  16. E.G. says:

    May I remind you that a certain RL holds a certain position in a certain establishment?
    Yes, there are quite a few such exceptions – though not as grand as “our” one and only! /flatter>

  17. nelson says:

    Cynic,

    yes, indeed. Europundits used to be my blog 5/6 years ago, and I published there an English version of the obituary.

    If we consider the Lebanese diaspora, there are many times more Lebanese Christians than Muslims. It is paradoxal, though, that in one or, at most, two generations the emmigrants tend to forget why they left the Middle East and, probably due to the rose-colored lens of nostalgia, they usually become Arab nationalists.

    Said himself was a Christian and his family was persecuted because of that in Egypt. His family’s firm and other properties were confiscated not by Jews, but by Nasser. In a very dishonest way, he too was a lifelong victim of the Stockholm Syndrome.

  18. nelson says:

    BTW: if Richard Landes wouldn’t object I’d republish that obituary here in the comments section. It’s a short text anyway.

  19. E.G. says:

    nelson & RL,

    I’d like to read the obituary.
    Please republish it here.

  20. nelson says:

    EDWARD SAID (1935-2003)

    The leukemia that a couple of days ago killed Edward Said lasted long enough for the polemist and political activist who had settled in the US to watch his projects and hopes crumble.

    Said owes his fame to having become the most articulate apologist for the « Palestinian cause », something that wasn’t all that difficult when one considers that most of his rivals in this field, whenever they’re not too busy blowing up school buses and pizza parlours, satisfy themselves spreading anti-Semitic forgeries like « The Protocols of the Sages of Zion ». Even so, although his prose reminds one of a post-modern English version of a deconstructionist French translation of the Germanic ravings of some Heidegger epigone, his academic dance of the seven veils with successive layers of Marxist, anti-imperialist and post-colonial jargon never hid the fact that his goals were fundamentally the same.

    A large part of his so-called moral authority came from Said presenting himself as a refugee from a Palestinian homeland. In spite of having been put in doubt by his adversaries, the truth or falsity of this claim isn’t too important. The internal borders of the Arab world are all artificial and, half a century ago, loyalties there were established in relation do clans, families, cities or villages and religious sects, not countries or nations, an European import that has had no time to grow deep roots in the Middle East. The Palestinian nationality as a distinct identity has not begun to be developed before the 60s.

    Born in an upper middle class Christian family, a student at the best local schools and a member of the most exclusive clubs, Said became since the 50s an American and he benefited both from this condition and from the romanticized image of an exile to reach the top of the academic pecking order. Since the beginning of the anti-Vietnam movements in the following decade, any cause that could be related to the Third World became first popular and then compulsory among Western intellectuals. Attuned to such a context, Said, whose speciality were Literary Studies, published in 1978 the book that would make him famous, assuring his role of guru almost until his death: “Orientalism”.

    His « classic » is a confused, misinformed and angry diatribe that consists in applying to a particular case an overused generic thesis according to which intellectuals are mostly the servants of the ruling class. What “Orientalism” tries to show through half-truths, non-sequiturs, weird examples and exceptions turned into rules is that the discipline or, rather, the disciplines generically called Orientalism that study the Eastern peoples and cultures are nothing but the theoretical arm of imperialism. In short, whoever studied difficult languages such as Chinese or Sanskrit, whoever translated or annotated old or forgotten Japanese or Persian works, whoever unearthed lost temples and palaces did it only for the profit of British or French capitalists.

    If such a childish reductionism weren’t enough, the author limited his analysis to the less Oriental of all the non-European regions: the Arab-Muslim world. Surrounding the publication of his work with a whole series of polemics where, to any substantive objection, he only answered questioning the ideological credentials of his critics, he managed, helped by the spirit of the times, to turn his book in the cornerstone of an academic fashion that is still strong enough, that is, judging people and works according not to scholarly criteria but in the light of their political choices.

    One year later, in 1979, he published his other « classic », « The Question of Palestine », a book the purpose of which was to narrate the tragedy of his people but which touches historical truth only tangentially, at best. Among the many lies with which this deformed view of the past is built, the most scandalous is the mysterious disappearance of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Hadjj Amin al Huseini (1893-1974). The main leader of what Said calls Palestine and of its revolt, in 1936-39, against British rule, the ally of the Nazis who wanted Hitler to help him exterminate the Jews of Haifa and Tel Aviv, the personality that dominated, between the 20s and the 60s, the life of the local Arabs, taking them from catastrophe to catastrophe, makes only one very brief appearance in the whole volume. It is as if a history of the US or Italy, covering the same period, simply omitted the names of FDR or Mussollini.

    For two long decades, until the day when the Al Qaeda atrocities, demoralizing his apologetic view of the Islamic world, occasioned his final eclipse by his nemesis, Bernard Lewis, Said kept a powerful and evil hold over many intellectuals. And, though below such euphemisms as the “creation of a secular bi-national state where Jews and Arabs would live democratically together” what really lurked was his mad dream of abolishing Israel, something that would result in the extermination of its “non native” population, the real victims of his ideas were first and foremost his own countrymen whom he helped to guide towards new disasters.

  21. E.G. says:

    nelson,

    Thank You!
    For having written and published the obituary, and for posting it here.

  22. oao says:

    nelson,

    shouldn’t polemist be polemicist?

    The Palestinian nationality as a distinct identity has not begun to be developed before the 60s.

    it did not “develop” organically. it was invented by the arab countries after the 67 war; for after all, the wb and ghaza had been under their control, so there were a pal people, why were they under jordanian and egyptin control?

    Since the beginning of the anti-Vietnam movements in the following decade, any cause that could be related to the Third World became first popular and then compulsory among Western intellectuals.

    just like the anti-zionist/semitist cause is today.

    an overused generic thesis according to which intellectuals are mostly the servants of the ruling class.

    that, alas, is not altogether untrue; but not just tu ruling class, but to fashion too. both of those are sources of research funds and chairs.

    he only answered questioning the ideological credentials of his critics

    that’s a very known and used technique when one is not capable of questioning the substance. when academics turn to it, their academic status becomes questionable. take another example: juan cole.

  23. nelson says:

    You’re right: the English text’s but a quick translation (without much of a revision) of an original written in another language in which, btw, polemicist is “polemista”.

    Actually many other nationalities and nationalisms were rather artificial or invented, though probably none in such bad faith as the Palestinian one.

    Thus, for instance, Czechoslovask, Yugoslav, Turkish, Spanish and so on. Even the French nationality is something pretty recent and was still being imposed on Corsicans, Bretons or Alsatians early in the 20th century. Even now there are probably more differences between someone born in Marseille and someone born in Paris than between an Argentinian and an Uruguayan or Chilean.

    The same, I think, applies to Yemeni, Ethiopian, Morroccan or Russian Israelis: I’d say there’s much more diversity among them than between Palestinians living in Gaza and most Muslim Egyptians.

    Coming to think of it, people like to say that Zionism and the Israeli nationality are some kind of aberration. Actually, the Palestinian nationality is the only one I know about that has been created with the sole purpose of destroying and/or cancelling another nationality and nation. And, in the whole world, throughout history, the Palestinians are the only people that have rejected a state of their own — three times at least.

    Can one imagine, for instance, the Hungarians, after the Tretay of Trianon (1919), saying: well, if we cannot have Nagyvárad (Oradea) and Pozsóny (Bratislava), then you can stay with Budapest too — either greater Hungary or no Hungary at all? Or the Greeks telling the Turks in 1923: either you give us back Smyrna or you take away Athens too? Of the Finns saying the same to the Russians in relation to Karelia?

    The problem is: most people know about only one territorial dispute in the whole world and in all of history: the Israeli/Arab one (there’s no such thing as an exclusively Israeli/Palestinian problem or conflict).

  24. oao says:

    though probably none in such bad faith as the Palestinian one.

    palestionians = no israel; that’s a rather unique objective

    Actually, the Palestinian nationality is the only one I know about that has been created with the sole purpose of destroying and/or cancelling another nationality and nation. And, in the whole world, throughout history, the Palestinians are the only people that have rejected a state of their own — three times at least.

    that’s so obvious that it’s screaming. which is why the anti-zionist theme is clearly anti-semitic.

    had the pals wanted a state, they could and have would have gotten one decades ago, after 1967. but arafat was clear and explicit in arabic that all he wanted is to get the max via negotiations and then get the rest via jihad. NO pal will ever give up the right of return and without that there won’t be peace.

    in part that’s israel’s fault. from day 1 its claim should have been the jewish refugees. it’s hard to come up with it now.

    either greater Hungary or no Hungary at all?

    because they did not want all of romania (where I was born) or all of yugoslavia.

    The problem is: most people know about only one territorial dispute in the whole world and in all of history: the Israeli/Arab one

    can you blame them? they have no education, are ignorant and the media bombs them with nothing else, all of it wrong.

  25. Eliyahu says:

    oao, we disagree about the origins of the “palestinian people” notion. I say that it was not invented by Arabs but by British psywar experts. The grounds for saying that are several but now is not the time. Don’t forget that the Arabs in Israel had help from Brit anti-Zionist [Judeophobic] officials since before 1920. Examine the letter sent by Palestinian Arab leaders to the British in London about 1922 [letter discussed in Bernard Lewis' Semites and Anti-Semites]. This message repeats various themes from the Protocols. I surmise that this message was even written by Britishers.

  26. Michael B says:

    Universalists, of the au courant and doctrinaire type reflected upon herein, end up inhabiting an intellectual and cultural provincialism of their own making. Hence the amount of too neat and too facile reductionism that pervades their analyses.

  27. oao says:

    we disagree about the origins of the “palestinian people” notion. I say that it was not invented by Arabs but by British psywar experts.

    i am willing to correct myself if that’s the case.
    but the term was quite quickly picked up by the arabs who probably understood its value.

  28. Eliyahu says:

    oao, I think that British agents probably instructed Arab leadership [Palestinian Arabs, Egyptians, etc] in the importance and use of the notion. Just as British officials here on the ground helped the Arab notables in 1922 with a memorandum handed to Winston Churchhill.

    Another case where British officials apparently encouraged extreme Arab positions was represented by a memorandum that Musa Kazem Husseini, leading the Arab Executive Committee in 1921, presented to Churchill, then secretary of state for the colonies. The memorandum first claims that “the fact that a Jew is a Jew has never prejudiced the Arab against him.” It then goes on to present a thorough, Judeophobic argument of the kind fashionable at that time, inspired by the Protocols of the Elders of Zion (here called by the alternate title, The Jewish Peril) and anti-Bolshevik hysteria. “Jews have been amongst the most active advocates of destruction in many lands… the disintegration of Russia was wholly or in part brought about by the Jews and a large proportion of the defeat of Germany and Austria must also be put at their door… a book entitled The Jewish Peril… should be read by everyone… the pernicious motives of the Jews…” Bernard Lewis points out that the tenor of this passage is Western. First there is the appeal to Western liberal notions of equality and fairness. Then come themes from the Protocols and the literature that had grown up around them after the First World War, particularly fear of the Bolshevik revolution, and the proto-Nazi theme that Jews had stabbed Germany in the back. Given the help by certain British officers for founding Muslim-Christian Associations (obviously excluding Jews) throughout the country and the encouragement by such officials as Ronald Storrs for the newly formed groups to demonstrate against Zionism, can we not assume that British hands helped to write this memorandum, also in view of the circulation of the Protocols among British officers at the time?

  29. Eliyahu says:

    oao, Bernard Lewis quotes from and discusses this memorandum in his book, Semites and Anti-Semites, on pp 269-270, note 13. Lewis is too mild in suggesting that “a foreign, probably a Western hand” wrote this memorandum. It reeks with British cliches and British liberal values, which of course it also contradicts.

    It is quoted in full in Aaron S Klieman, Foundations of British Policy in the Arab World: The Cairo Conference of 1921 (Baltimore 1970), pp 259-267 and discussed on p 157 ff.

  30. Eliyahu says:

    Anti-Zionism is the anti-imperialism of fools

    These raging mobs of “anti-Zionists” are too dumb to understand that they are following the same policy as the British officers stationed in Jerusalem in 1920, like Storrs & Waters-Taylor & Ernest Richmond. Waters-Taylor urged Haj Amin el-Husseini, the future mufti of Jerusalem, to incite an Arab anti-Jewish riot in Jerusalem during the San Remo Conference of 1920. This pogrom is now called the Nebi Musa riot, as I recall. [source on Waters-Taylor: the memoirs of Richard Meinertzhagen, Middle East Diary & Meinertzhagen’s handwritten note in a volume edited by I Friedman or M Cohen in the Arno series]

    Anti-Zionism is the anti-imperialism of fools

  31. oao says:

    eliyahu,

    can’t say i am surprised. it fits.

  32. [...] bookmarks tagged derisive PC, Prohibited Analysis, and the “Arab Mind&… saved by 1 others     samsoonsamshiki bookmarked on 03/06/09 | [...]

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  35. hab says:

    Arab racism against non-Arabs is huge, the tragic example of the genocide in Sudan is the bloody example.

    Then we have the Pakistani & Malaysian as slaves under the boot of the gulf & Lebanese racist Arabs…

    Not to mention the massacres on the Kurds by pan Arabism in Iraq or the persecution on them by Syria. or the Berber natives on North Africa by Arab settlers past & present (Morocco, Algeria).

    Or the anti Jewish racism by the entire Arab world, What else is the Palestinian-Arab conflict really all about, the Arabs can’t stand the better group in its midts (especially how Arabs live in free Israel, much better than in ANY Arab country – since all of them are oppressive), so they invent each season a new libel and (commit crimes against humanity, like) push the palestinian kids to die as human shields so that their hatred can have a “reason” of fake “war crimes”.

    Why do we have to believe each and every lie the Arabs tell, just because they have the lobby oil power over the media (check out how much of US media Saudi billionaire Bin-Talal owns…) & the United Nations???

  36. […] and especially in the context of comparisons between the Arab world and the West. Even in intelligence services, whose job is to think like the enemy, refusing to resort to honor/shame dynamics became standard […]

  37. […] and especially in the context of comparisons between the Arab world and the West. Even in intelligence services, whose job is to think like the enemy, refusing to resort to honor/shame dynamics became standard […]

  38. […] sein, besonders aber im Kontext von Vergleichen der arabischen Welt mit dem Westen. Sogar bei Geheimdiensten, deren Aufgabe es sein sollte, wie der Feind zu denken, wurde es zum Standard, den Rückgriff auf […]

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