The Spine

Edward Said's Dimming Star


I wrote last week about Edward Said's poisonous legacy at Columbia and, for that matter, other colleges and universities, including Harvard, where I taught for eons and eons. Said's star is dimming, and it is dimming for at least two reasons.

One is that his primary insight--that the views of the "orientalists" were false because they helped sustain imperialism--itself denies the populations whom he views as victims their capacity for agency. A second reason is that the Palestinian people on whom he expended such ardor, have not shown that they are yet capable of political reason, that they are, in so far as reasonableness is concerned, as deficient as those who studied them as Arabs thought them to be. This meant, as with the great travelers, that their subjects were brave and natural. They were, however, of another world where words have unusual meanings. A world of instinctive and often random violence.

Ibn Warraq is a noted scholar of Islam, although something of an apostate Muslim. Here is an essay by him on Said who, though he was a Christian, had a tremendous influence on modern Muslim politics, all to the baleful. And look for Warraq's forthcoming book that I have not yet read, Defending the West: A Crtitique of Edward Said's Orientalism:


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