Saturday, December 3, 2016

Latest on Syria

Has the ennui set in about Syria?

People are still suffering.

Here is an update by Abdullah Andlusi.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

27 Life Changing Books

I have written a lot about a friend, late Dr Farhan Mujib, on this blog. Once, while browsing books in a section of the Maulana Azad Library of the Aligarh Muslim University, he said that Maripat don't you think that one I shall get a book that will change my life. He had spoken the truth. I was always looking for such a book. I did not know that the same was the case with him.

Only much later I realized that the most relevant book in that category is the Noble Qur'an. I also did not know that any other book will be far behind of the divine revelation. These two points must be kept in mind before exploring the type of lists that this blog post is about.

Such lists are not entirely useless. These do serve a purpose but your grounding in Islam must be strong enough before you can take optimum advantage of such offerings.

For the moment I offer my views of the books in the linked list - 27 books that can change your life for ever.

 'The Road' by Cormac McCarthy

 This book at the moment has 4223 customer reviews on Amazon. That says a lot about a book. It is a Pulitzer Prize winning book that also was classified as a notable book by the New York Times. It is about how a father an son duo face life in war ravaged America when the civilization is destroyed and lawless bands prowl.


America is just five centuries old for us and it has gathered in that small duration of time enormous amount of experience that it aspires to dominate the human social psyche. Hence every experience from there is supposed to be ultimate and the last word in that walk of life about which they choose to talk. Muslim experience never comes to their radar, same for Indian experience or Asian experience. Even European experience is a second grade loser. They certainly assert universality for their experience combined with superiority. their universality is tempered by the fact that they borrowed orientalist mindset about the Muslim world from Europe. Their superiority is their own biased construct.

Moreover the US is superpower in an advance state of decline. Keeping that in mind we can always have a look at their experience. They had no right to dominate the world for half a century but the fact remains that they did. Even today we do not have a substitute for what they have been. For a 2006 book the present novel is hugely successful. On my part I do not wish to change my life for ever on the basis of a depressing narrative of devastation even if it full of love's dedication and the narrative is lyrical.


The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff

This one has more than five hundred Amazon reviews. Not bad at all. Tao of Something can be taken as a synonymous of Secrets of Something. It is about Chinese wisdom. As seen by the west. You see the west is so magnanimous. They are ready to take wisdom even if it lies with Asia, including China. Of course Islam is a big no.

So what is the wisdom here?

Well there are calculating people amongst us. Like the Rabbit.
Then there are Piglets amongst us who hesitate. You see what a disarming and charming way to call you a pig.
Then there Eeyores who fret.
Owls amongst us pontificate.

But the day is saved by Winnie-the-Pooh who just is.

So just be.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy 

In War and Peace Leo Tolstoy destroyed the historical process for us.

Whatever you do historically it becomes irrelevant very soon.

In Anna Karenina he makes an argument for being moral and better person. 

We know Immanuel Kant told us that morality is good in itself.

But this does not take us much farther. Purposeless morality is blind. You need Islam to give direction to your life.

Nonchalant About World

Are you nonchalant about the worldly blessings?

To some extant I am. But it is very difficult to be that.
Mostly people are not.

What is the ideal or the optimal or the practical or the pragmatic level of nonchalance? My personal impression is that tis can be decided experimentally.
Make effort for worldly blessings and then see how much He gives you.

Theologically we know the answer. Apart from a place to live, clothes to wear and a dry bread to eat a believer has no rights. That, of course, is scary. It is more so because we simply do not pay due attention to demands that Islam makes on our attitudes. I, for one, feel ever so lonely in these matters.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Thus Wrote Lord Macaulay

Minute by the Hon'ble T. B. Macaulay,

Dated the 2nd February 1835.
 
        [1] As it seems to be the opinion of some of the gentlemen who compose the Committee of Public Instruction that the course which they have hitherto pursued was strictly prescribed by the British Parliament in 1813 and as, if that opinion be correct, a legislative act will be necessary to warrant a change, I have thought it right to refrain from taking any part in the preparation of the adverse statements which are.now before us, and to reserve what I had to say on the subject till it should come before me as a Member of the Council of India.
        [2] It does not appear to me that the Act of Parliament can by any art of contraction be made to bear the meaning which has been assigned to it. It contains nothing about the particular languages or sciences which are to be studied. A sum is set apart "for the revival and promotion of literature, and the encouragement of the learned natives of India, and for the introduction and promotion of a knowledge of the sciences among the inhabitants of the British territories." It is argued, or rather taken for granted, that by literature the Parliament can have meant only Arabic and Sanscrit literature; that they never would have given the honourable appellation of "a learned native" to a native who was familiar with the poetry of Milton, the metaphysics of Locke, and the physics of Newton; but that they meant to designate by that name only such persons as might have studied in the sacred books of the Hindoos all the uses of cusa-grass, and all the mysteries of absorption into the Deity. This does not appear to be a very satisfactory interpretation. To take a parallel case: Suppose that the Pacha of Egypt, a country once superior in knowledge to the nations of Europe, but now sunk far below them, were to appropriate a sum for the purpose "of reviving and promoting literature, and encouraging learned natives of Egypt," would any body infer that he meant the youth of his Pachalik to give years to the study of hieroglyphics, to search into all the doctrines disguised under the fable of Osiris, and to ascertain with all possible accuracy the ritual with which cats and onions were anciently adored? Would he be justly charged with inconsistency if, instead of employing his young subjects in deciphering obelisks, he were to order them to be instructed in the English and French languages, and in all the sciences to which those languages are the chief keys?
        [3] The words on which the supporters of the old system rely do not bear them out, and other words follow which seem to be quite decisive on the other side. This lakh of rupees is set apart not only for "reviving literature in India," the phrase on which their whole interpretation is founded, but also "for the introduction and promotion of a knowledge of the sciences among the inhabitants of the British territories"-- words which are alone sufficient to authorize all the changes for which I contend.
        [4] If the Council agree in my construction no legislative act will be necessary. If they differ from me, I will propose a short act rescinding that I clause of the Charter of 1813 from which the difficulty arises.
        [5] The argument which I have been considering affects only the form of proceeding. But the admirers of the oriental system of education have used another argument, which, if we admit it to be valid, is decisive against all change. They conceive that the public faith is pledged to the present system, and that to alter the appropriation of any of the funds which have hitherto been spent in encouraging the study of Arabic and Sanscrit would be downright spoliation. It is not easy to understand by what process of reasoning they can have arrived at this conclusion. The grants which are made from the public purse for the encouragement of literature differ in no respect from the grants which are made from the same purse for other objects of real or supposed utility. We found a sanitarium on a spot which we suppose to be healthy. Do we thereby pledge ourselves to keep a sanitarium there if the result should not answer our expectations? We commence the erection of a pier. Is it a violation of the public faith to stop the works, if we afterwards see reason to believe that the building will be useless? The rights of property are undoubtedly sacred. But nothing endangers those rights so much as the practice, now unhappily too common, of attributing them to things to which they do not belong. Those who would impart to abuses the sanctity of property are in truth imparting to the institution of property the unpopularity and the fragility of abuses. If the Government has given to any person a formal assurance-- nay, if the Government has excited in any person's mind a reasonable expectation-- that he shall receive a certain income as a teacher or a learner of Sanscrit or Arabic, I would respect that person's pecuniary interests. I would rather err on the side of liberality to individuals than suffer the public faith to be called in question. But to talk of a Government pledging itself to teach certain languages and certain sciences, though those languages may become useless, though those sciences may be exploded, seems to me quite unmeaning. There is not a single word in any public instrument from which it can be inferred that the Indian Government ever intended to give any pledge on this subject, or ever considered the destination of these funds as unalterably fixed. But, had it been otherwise, I should have denied the competence of our predecessors to bind us by any pledge on such a subject. Suppose that a Government had in the last century enacted in the most solemn manner that all its subjects should, to the end of time, be inoculated for the small-pox, would that Government be bound to persist in the practice after Jenner's discovery? These promises of which nobody claims the performance, and from which nobody can grant a release, these vested rights which vest in nobody, this property without proprietors, this robbery which makes nobody poorer, may be comprehended by persons of higher faculties than mine. I consider this plea merely as a set form of words, regularly used both in England and in India, in defence of every abuse for which no other plea can be set up.
        [6] I hold this lakh of rupees to be quite at the disposal of the Governor-General in Council for the purpose of promoting learning in India in any way which may be thought most advisable. I hold his Lordship to be quite as free to direct that it shall no longer be employed in encouraging Arabic and Sanscrit, as he is to direct that the reward for killing tigers in Mysore shall be diminished, or that no more public money shall be expended on the chaunting at the cathedral.
        [7] We now come to the gist of the matter. We have a fund to be employed as Government shall direct for the intellectual improvement of the people of this country. The simple question is, what is the most useful way of employing it?
        [8] All parties seem to be agreed on one point, that the dialects commonly spoken among the natives of this part of India contain neither literary nor scientific information, and are moreover so poor and rude that, until they are enriched from some other quarter, it will not be easy to translate any valuable work into them.  It seems to be admitted on all sides, that the intellectual improvement of those classes of the people who have the means of pursuing higher studies can at present be affected only by means of some language not vernacular amongst them.
        [9] What then shall that language be? One-half of the committee maintain that it should be the English. The other half strongly recommend the Arabic and Sanscrit. The whole question seems to me to be-- which language is the best worth knowing?
        [10] I have no knowledge of either Sanscrit or Arabic. But I have done what I could to form a correct estimate of their value. I have read translations of the most celebrated Arabic and Sanscrit works. I have conversed, both here and at home, with men distinguished by their proficiency in the Eastern tongues. I am quite ready to take the oriental learning at the valuation of the orientalists themselves. I have never found one among them who could deny that a single shelf of a good European library was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia. The intrinsic superiority of the Western literature is indeed fully admitted by those members of the committee who support the oriental plan of education.
        [11] It will hardly be disputed, I suppose, that the department of literature in which the Eastern writers stand highest is poetry. And I certainly never met with any orientalist who ventured to maintain that the Arabic and Sanscrit poetry could be compared to that of the great European nations. But when we pass from works of imagination to works in which facts are recorded and general principles investigated, the superiority of the Europeans becomes absolutely immeasurable. It is, I believe, no exaggeration to say that all the historical information which has been collected from all the books written in the Sanscrit language is less valuable than what may be found in the most paltry abridgments used at preparatory schools in England. In every branch of physical or moral philosophy, the relative position of the two nations is nearly the same.
        [12] How then stands the case? We have to educate a people who cannot at present be educated by means of their mother-tongue. We must teach them some foreign language. The claims of our own language it is hardly necessary to recapitulate. It stands pre-eminent even among the languages of the West. It abounds with works of imagination not inferior to the noblest which Greece has bequeathed to us, --with models of every species of eloquence, --with historical composition, which, considered merely as narratives, have seldom been surpassed, and which, considered as vehicles of ethical and political instruction, have never been equaled-- with just and lively representations of human life and human nature, --with the most profound speculations on metaphysics, morals, government, jurisprudence, trade, --with full and correct information respecting every experimental science which tends to preserve the health, to increase the comfort, or to expand the intellect of man. Whoever knows that language has ready access to all the vast intellectual wealth which all the wisest nations of the earth have created and hoarded in the course of ninety generations. It may safely be said that the literature now extant in that language is of greater value than all the literature which three hundred years ago was extant in all the languages of the world together. Nor is this all. In India, English is the language spoken by the ruling class. It is spoken by the higher class of natives at the seats of Government. It is likely to become the language of commerce throughout the seas of the East. It is the language of two great European communities which are rising, the one in the south of Africa, the other in Australia, --communities which are every year becoming more important and more closely connected with our Indian empire. Whether we look at the intrinsic value of our literature, or at the particular situation of this country, we shall see the strongest reason to think that, of all foreign tongues, the English tongue is that which would be the most useful to our native subjects.
        [13] The question now before us is simply whether, when it is in our power to teach this language, we shall teach languages in which, by universal confession, there are no books on any subject which deserve to be compared to our own, whether, when we can teach European science, we shall teach systems which, by universal confession, wherever they differ from those of Europe differ for the worse, and whether, when we can patronize sound philosophy and true history, we shall countenance, at the public expense, medical doctrines which would disgrace an English farrier, astronomy which would move laughter in girls at an English boarding school, history abounding with kings thirty feet high and reigns thirty thousand years long, and geography made of seas of treacle and seas of butter.
        [14] We are not without experience to guide us. History furnishes several analogous cases, and they all teach the same lesson. There are, in modern times, to go no further, two memorable instances of a great impulse given to the mind of a whole society, of prejudices overthrown, of knowledge diffused, of taste purified, of arts and sciences planted in countries which had recently been ignorant and barbarous.
        [15] The first instance to which I refer is the great revival of letters among the Western nations at the close of the fifteenth and the beginning of the sixteenth century. At that time almost everything that was worth reading was contained in the writings of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Had our ancestors acted as the Committee of Public Instruction has hitherto noted, had they neglected the language of Thucydides and Plato, and the language of Cicero and Tacitus, had they confined their attention to the old dialects of our own island, had they printed nothing and taught nothing at the universities but chronicles in Anglo-Saxon and romances in Norman French, --would England ever have been what she now is? What the Greek and Latin were to the contemporaries of More and Ascham, our tongue is to the people of India. The literature of England is now more valuable than that of classical antiquity. I doubt whether the Sanscrit literature be as valuable as that of our Saxon and Norman progenitors. In some departments-- in history for example-- I am certain that it is much less so.
        [16] Another instance may be said to be still before our eyes. Within the last hundred and twenty years, a nation which had previously been in a state as barbarous as that in which our ancestors were before the Crusades has gradually emerged from the ignorance in which it was sunk, and has taken its place among civilized communities. I speak of Russia. There is now in that country a large educated class abounding with persons fit to serve the State in the highest functions, and in nowise inferior to the most accomplished men who adorn the best circles of Paris and London. There is reason to hope that this vast empire which, in the time of our grandfathers, was probably behind the Punjab, may in the time of our grandchildren, be pressing close on France and Britain in the career of improvement. And how was this change effected? Not by flattering national prejudices; not by feeding the mind of the young Muscovite with the old women's stories which his rude fathers had believed; not by filling his head with lying legends about St. Nicholas; not by encouraging him to study the great question, whether the world was or not created on the 13th of September; not by calling him "a learned native" when he had mastered all these points of knowledge; but by teaching him those foreign languages in which the greatest mass of information had been laid up, and thus putting all that information within his reach. The languages of western Europe civilised Russia. I cannot doubt that they will do for the Hindoo what they have done for the Tartar.
        [17] And what are the arguments against that course which seems to be alike recommended by theory and by experience? It is said that we ought to secure the co-operation of the native public, and that we can do this only by teaching Sanscrit and Arabic.
        [18] I can by no means admit that, when a nation of high intellectual attainments undertakes to superintend the education of a nation comparatively ignorant, the learners are absolutely to prescribe the course which is to be taken by the teachers. It is not necessary however to say anything on this subject. For it is proved by unanswerable evidence, that we are not at present securing the co-operation of the natives. It would be bad enough to consult their intellectual taste at the expense of their intellectual health. But we are consulting neither. We are withholding from them the learning which is palatable to them. We are forcing on them the mock learning which they nauseate.
        [19] This is proved by the fact that we are forced to pay our Arabic and Sanscrit students while those who learn English are willing to pay us. All the declamations in the world about the love and reverence of the natives for their sacred dialects will never, in the mind of any impartial person, outweigh this undisputed fact, that we cannot find in all our vast empire a single student who will let us teach him those dialects, unless we will pay him.
        [20] I have now before me the accounts of the Mudrassa for one month, the month of December, 1833. The Arabic students appear to have been seventy-seven in number. All receive stipends from the public. The whole amount paid to them is above 500 rupees a month. On the other side of the account stands the following item:
        Deduct amount realized from the out-students of English for the months of May, June, and July last-- 103 rupees.
        [21] I have been told that it is merely from want of local experience that I am surprised at these phenomena, and that it is not the fashion for students in India to study at their own charges. This only confirms me in my opinions. Nothing is more certain than that it never can in any part of the world be necessary to pay men for doing what they think pleasant or profitable. India is no exception to this rule. The people of India do not require to be paid for eating rice when they are hungry, or for wearing woollen cloth in the cold season. To come nearer to the case before us: --The children who learn their letters and a little elementary arithmetic from the village schoolmaster are not paid by him. He is paid for teaching them. Why then is it necessary to pay people to learn Sanscrit and Arabic? Evidently because it is universally felt that the Sanscrit and Arabic are languages the knowledge of which does not compensate for the trouble of acquiring them. On all such subjects the state of the market is the detective test.
        [22] Other evidence is not wanting, if other evidence were required. A petition was presented last year to the committee by several ex-students of the Sanscrit College. The petitioners stated that they had studied in the college ten or twelve years, that they had made themselves acquainted with Hindoo literature and science, that they had received certificates of proficiency. And what is the fruit of all this? "Notwithstanding such testimonials," they say, "we have but little prospect of bettering our condition without the kind assistance of your honourable committee, the indifference with which we are generally looked upon by our countrymen leaving no hope of encouragement and assistance from them." They therefore beg that they may be recommended to the Governor-General for places under the Government-- not places of high dignity or emolument, but such as may just enable them to exist. "We want means," they say, "for a decent living, and for our progressive improvement, which, however, we cannot obtain without the assistance of Government, by whom we have been educated and maintained from childhood." They conclude by representing very pathetically that they are sure that it was never the intention of Government, after behaving so liberally to them during their education, to abandon them to destitution and neglect.
        [23] I have been used to see petitions to Government for compensation. All those petitions, even the most unreasonable of them, proceeded on the supposition that some loss had been sustained, that some wrong had been inflicted. These are surely the first petitioners who ever demanded compensation for having been educated gratis, for having been supported by the public during twelve years, and then sent forth into the world well furnished with literature and science. They represent their education as an injury which gives them a claim on the Government for redress, as an injury for which the stipends paid to them during the infliction were a very inadequate compensation. And I doubt not that they are in the right. They have wasted the best years of life in learning what procures for them neither bread nor respect. Surely we might with advantage have saved the cost of making these persons useless and miserable. Surely, men may be brought up to be burdens to the public and objects of contempt to their neighbours at a somewhat smaller charge to the State. But such is our policy. We do not even stand neuter in the contest between truth and falsehood. We are not content to leave the natives to the influence of their own hereditary prejudices. To the natural difficulties which obstruct the progress of sound science in the East, we add great difficulties of our own making. Bounties and premiums, such as ought not to be given even for the propagation of truth, we lavish on false texts and false philosophy.
        [24] By acting thus we create the very evil which we fear. We are making that opposition which we do not find. What we spend on the Arabic and Sanscrit Colleges is not merely a dead loss to the cause of truth. It is bounty-money paid to raise up champions of error. It goes to form a nest not merely of helpless placehunters but of bigots prompted alike by passion and by interest to raise a cry against every useful scheme of education. If there should be any opposition among the natives to the change which I recommend, that opposition will be the effect of our own system. It will be headed by persons supported by our stipends and trained in our colleges. The longer we persevere in our present course, the more formidable will that opposition be. It will be every year reinforced by recruits whom we are paying. From the native society, left to itself, we have no difficulties to apprehend. All the murmuring will come from that oriental interest which we have, by artificial means, called into being and nursed into strength.
        [25] There is yet another fact which is alone sufficient to prove that the feeling of the native public, when left to itself, is not such as the supporters of the old system represent it to be. The committee have thought fit to lay out above a lakh of rupees in printing Arabic and Sanscrit books. Those books find no purchasers. It is very rarely that a single copy is disposed of. Twenty-three thousand volumes, most of them folios and quartos, fill the libraries or rather the lumber-rooms of this body. The committee contrive to get rid of some portion of their vast stock of oriental literature by giving books away. But they cannot give so fast as they print. About twenty thousand rupees a year are spent in adding fresh masses of waste paper to a hoard which, one should think, is already sufficiently ample. During the last three years about sixty thousand rupees have been expended in this manner. The sale of Arabic and Sanscrit books during those three years has not yielded quite one thousand rupees. In the meantime, the School Book Society is selling seven or eight thousand English volumes every year, and not only pays the expenses of printing but realizes a profit of twenty per cent. on its outlay.
        [30] The fact that the Hindoo law is to be learned chiefly from Sanscrit books, and the Mahometan law from Arabic books, has been much insisted on, but seems not to bear at all on the question. We are commanded by Parliament to ascertain and digest the laws of India. The assistance of a Law Commission has been given to us for that purpose. As soon as the Code is promulgated the Shasters and the Hedaya will be useless to a moonsiff or a Sudder Ameen. I hope and trust that, before the boys who are now entering at the Mudrassa and the Sanscrit College have completed their studies, this great work will be finished. It would be manifestly absurd to educate the rising generation with a view to a state of things which we mean to alter before they reach manhood.
        [31] But there is yet another argument which seems even more untenable. It is said that the Sanscrit and the Arabic are the languages in which the sacred books of a hundred millions of people are written, and that they are on that account entitled to peculiar encouragement. Assuredly it is the duty of the British Government in India to be not only tolerant but neutral on all religious questions. But to encourage the study of a literature, admitted to be of small intrinsic value, only because that literature inculcated the most serious errors on the most important subjects, is a course hardly reconcilable with reason, with morality, or even with that very neutrality which ought, as we all agree, to be sacredly preserved. It is confined that a language is barren of useful knowledge. We are to teach it because it is fruitful of monstrous superstitions. We are to teach false history, false astronomy, false medicine, because we find them in company with a false religion. We abstain, and I trust shall always abstain, from giving any public encouragement to those who are engaged in the work of converting the natives to Christianity. And while we act thus, can we reasonably or decently bribe men, out of the revenues of the State, to waste their youth in learning how they are to purify themselves after touching an ass or what texts of the Vedas they are to repeat to expiate the crime of killing a goat?
        [32] It is taken for granted by the advocates of oriental learning that no native of this country can possibly attain more than a mere smattering of English. They do not attempt to prove this. But they perpetually insinuate it. They designate the education which their opponents recommend as a mere spelling-book education. They assume it as undeniable that the question is between a profound knowledge of Hindoo and Arabian literature and science on the one side, and superficial knowledge of the rudiments of English on the other. This is not merely an assumption, but an assumption contrary to all reason and experience. We know that foreigners of all nations do learn our language sufficiently to have access to all the most abstruse knowledge which it contains sufficiently to relish even the more delicate graces of our most idiomatic writers. There are in this very town natives who are quite competent to discuss political or scientific questions with fluency and precision in the English language. I have heard the very question on which I am now writing discussed by native gentlemen with a liberality and an intelligence which would do credit to any member of the Committee of Public Instruction. Indeed it is unusual to find, even in the literary circles of the Continent, any foreigner who can express himself in English with so much facility and correctness as we find in many Hindoos. Nobody, I suppose, will contend that English is so difficult to a Hindoo as Greek to an Englishman. Yet an intelligent English youth, in a much smaller number of years than our unfortunate pupils pass at the Sanscrit College, becomes able to read, to enjoy, and even to imitate not unhappily the compositions of the best Greek authors. Less than half the time which enables an English youth to read Herodotus and Sophocles ought to enable a Hindoo to read Hume and Milton.
        [33] To sum up what I have said. I think it clear that we are not fettered by the Act of Parliament of 1813, that we are not fettered by any pledge expressed or implied, that we are free to employ our funds as we choose, that we ought to employ them in teaching what is best worth knowing, that English is better worth knowing than Sanscrit or Arabic, that the natives are desirous to be taught English, and are not desirous to be taught Sanscrit or Arabic, that neither as the languages of law nor as the languages of religion have the Sanscrit and Arabic any peculiar claim to our encouragement, that it is possible to make natives of this country thoroughly good English scholars, and that to this end our efforts ought to be directed.
        [34] In one point I fully agree with the gentlemen to whose general views I am opposed. I feel with them that it is impossible for us, with our limited means, to attempt to educate the body of the people. We must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern,  --a class of persons Indian in blood and colour, but English in tastes, in opinions, in morals and in intellect. To that class we may leave it to refine the vernacular dialects of the country, to enrich those dialects with terms of science borrowed from the Western nomenclature, and to render them by degrees fit vehicles for conveying knowledge to the great mass of the population.
        [35] I would strictly respect all existing interests. I would deal even generously with all individuals who have had fair reason to expect a pecuniary provision. But I would strike at the root of the bad system which has hitherto been fostered by us. I would at once stop the printing of Arabic and Sanscrit books. I would abolish the Mudrassa and the Sanscrit College at Calcutta. Benares is the great seat of Brahminical learning; Delhi of Arabic learning. If we retain the Sanscrit College at Bonares and the Mahometan College at Delhi we do enough and much more than enough in my opinion, for the Eastern languages. If the Benares and Delhi Colleges should be retained, I would at least recommend that no stipends shall be given to any students who may hereafter repair thither, but that the people shall be left to make their own choice between the rival systems of education without being bribed by us to learn what they have no desire to know. The funds which would thus be placed at our disposal would enable us to give larger encouragement to the Hindoo College at Calcutta, and establish in the principal cities throughout the Presidencies of Fort William and Agra schools in which the English language might be well and thoroughly taught.
        [36] If the decision of His Lordship in Council should be such as I anticipate, I shall enter on the performance of my duties with the greatest zeal and alacrity. If, on the other hand, it be the opinion of the Government that the present system ought to remain unchanged, I beg that I may be permitted to retire from the chair of the Committee. I feel that I could not be of the smallest use there. I feel also that I should be lending my countenance to what I firmly believe to be a mere delusion. I believe that the present system tends not to accelerate the progress of truth but to delay the natural death of expiring errors. I conceive that we have at present no right to the respectable name of a Board of Public Instruction. We are a Board for wasting the public money, for printing books which are of less value than the paper on which they are printed was while it was blank-- for giving artificial encouragement to absurd history, absurd metaphysics, absurd physics, absurd theology-- for raising up a breed of scholars who find their scholarship an incumbrance and blemish, who live on the public while they are receiving their education, and whose education is so utterly useless to them that, when they have received it, they must either starve or live on the public all the rest of their lives. Entertaining these opinions, I am naturally desirous to decline all share in the responsibility of a body which, unless it alters its whole mode of proceedings, I must consider, not merely as useless, but as positively noxious.
     T[homas] B[abington] MACAULAY
     2nd February 1835.
     I give my entire concurrence to the sentiments expressed in this Minute.
     W[illiam] C[avendish] BENTINCK.

Source : Columbia

Monday, February 8, 2016

Giving Honorary Degree

To whom should AMU give honorary degrees?

Alig are mulling over this question. The starting salvo has the following assertion:
Earlier Honoris causa were awarded to persons of eminence like C.V. Raman, Shah of Iran, King Saud, Obaid Siddiqi, but now it is being awarded to Nouveau riche whose only claim to fame is that they donated a piece of land or some money. What a downfall.
If university decide to honor people like Narayanmurthy, Harsh Mander, Teesta Setalvad, Salman Khan (USA) of online tutorial fame, Sania Mirza, Raghuram Rajan, Sam Pitroda, Mukesh Ambani then it will enhance the prestige of AMU also.
I am puzzled at these views.

What was so praiseworthy with Shah of Iran? Or King Saud? Unless these are used to balance against each other. Somehow some sort of colonial mindset dominates Aligarh thinking even today to pathetic levels. AMU is a university and its prime concern must remain academics. It is not the Caliphate of Aligarh to think in terms of Shahs and Kings. Even Governors and Chief Ministers should never feature in our list of honorary degrees, unless these have made their mark in some other field that is worth recognizing by us. In this regard a few honorary degrees dished out by Mahmoodur Rahman regime were the most pathetic ones.

Then again why Mukesh Ambani? Of course if he is desirous of building bridges with the huge minority community of India by donating funds to our university I am not the one to withdraw my hand. I shall not bother about those who do bickering about degrees for sale and the like.

But why Sania Mirza? May be to inspire girl athletes of AMU. I am sorry they already remain inspired by Sania. I am not going to waste my precious honorary degree on her. Sorry to be in-your-face-pragmatic.

AMU is a precious resource that Muslims of India have with them. It must be used judiciously. The writer of above remarks is certainly concerned with a fruitful utilization of this blessing of God. I do not doubt that even for a moment. But I am not convinced by the overall wisdom of his choice. In last seven decades, of independent India, Muslims have shown a singular lack of an accurate understanding of the ground reality and hence they have not taken steps to remedy their miserable state. Aligarh, being an intellectual hub of Indian Muslims, should have been a better place in this regard. unfortunately that is not true.

AMU should have been a place, from day one after Independence, to make an accurate assessment of overall political, economic, social, cultural, business, industrial and scientific and technological state of the country. we should also have taken requisite steps to improve the lot of Indian Muslims in all of these fields so that we would have been contributing to the nation building at something like equal level. Here I must clarify that this includes the possibility that we should have by now achieved equity with the rest of the country.

Identifying suitable honorary degree candidates is merely a cog in that wheel.

Unfortunately we simply do not think in a comprehensive manner.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Professor Muhammed Zillur Rahman Khan

It was the monsoon season of 1985 when I arrived in the Physics Department of the Aligarh Muslim University to pursue my masters degree course. A myriad pleasant memories clog my mind and my feelings when it comes to the first impression.

For the first time I saw that people have personal chambers with their respective names written on a plate hanging at the door. For the first time I saw that many of the names were Muslim. Soon I would see that the British and US text books were actually being used in the class rooms. For the first time I saw that men in Muslim beard would talk of current Physics with ease.

One of the peculiarities was that some teachers had up to four letters in the abbreviations of their names. Could names be that long? I did feel like Alice in Wonderland. One of these long names was of Professor Muhammed Zillur Rahman Khan. MZRK.

Soon I got the fortune to attend his class. few minutes before the class I asked my new classmates who was MZRK and they told that he was former head and something called Dean. Then he came for the class. A pot bellied man who looked impressive. For next two years and more he was not only a prime academician around but also a man who had a cultural presence of some class - the culture that makes a society not only cultured but at some sort of royal proportions. The elegant Muslim style of Salam was not a fable from movies but a day to day affair. Good Physics, good ambiance and a beautiful campus. Life has both positive and negative and sometimes a negative can overwhelm all positives but in the rest of the time one has to focus on positives only and this was as good a combination as one can get. Yours truly was in a state of trance for those two years of post graduation. Professor Khan was one of the pillars.

Mine was not a very close relationship with him those I too went through many of the phases of the legendary aspects of interaction with him. I always enjoyed good Physics and Professor Khan had lots of it with him. I had a joy ride but it would derail his joy. The psychological dynamics was as follows. When a concept unfolded before me or when I understood a finer point in the class, and there were ample moments of this sort in his class, then a spontaneous smile came to my face. The joy ride. This he did not understand. He assumed the worse, as if I am upto some mischief or distraction or even worse - caught a mistake. It was nothing like that. It was academics of highest level. A teacher offering the most exquisite pieces of pure knowledge and me, the grateful student, lapping it up, hook, line and sinker. Academically things can not be better than that. But he would be in a different state of mind. "Understand these things properly, even big guns don't know these things", he would repeat so often. I was psychologically not mature enough to calm down his fears and hence till his end I did nothing. I suppose I should have done but I suppose it will be fine with him if I smugly use the privilege of a favourite student. He was a man who rarely kept a grudge.

This last point he himself made explicitly when he came, decades later, to take part in the centenary celebration of our Department in 2011. Aligarh has its strengths but grudge is a nasty weakness around here. In view of that one can only feel bad at a higher level after having lost  him on 24th of January, 2016.

I was thinking that others will write about him in sufficient detail and I shall be spared the birth like pain of extracting the emotions from the narrow corners of memory. It has not happened. I suppose people will do the needful later.  but my fears are worse. Apart from good things of Aligarh its bad things too are legendary. Thanklessness is one of them. I do remember that in case of another teacher of mine, late Professor Israr Ahmed, due attention to his contributions was not accorded after his demise. I did read an article on him by Professor Kabir Ahmed Jaisi in Tehzeeb-ul-Akhlaq, an Urdu monthly published by our university, but that piece can not do justice to his Physics career. Professor Israr Ahmed, in my view, was most illustrious research student of Professor Khan, though I did witness very high praise for another student Professor Qamar Nasir Usmani by Professor Khan himself. But this comparison should not distract us from the actual academics. I I have personally seen even Russian physicists citing Dr Q.N. Usmani's work on many body physics.  Every single research student of Professor Khan is a serious academician in his own right. Apart from the above names I personally know, in a sort of reverse order, Dr Habibul Haq Ansari who specializes, apart from Nuclear physics, on philosophical aspects of Physics including interpretation of quantum mechanics, environmental science, reactor physics and he is a scholar of Urdu far better than so many known signatures. Dr Nasra Neelofer serves in the Women's college of our university while Dr Fauzia Mujib had retired after serving the same college for decades. Dr Muhammed Shoeb is a professor in our department. Dr Mahmood Mian is a professor of physics at the Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar while Dr J.H.Naqvi has retired as a professor from our department itself.

The last named one had done part of his research work with Professor A.N.Mitra who then shifted to Delhi university. His dissertation, hence, was completed under Professor Khan's supervision. His name is associated with Naqvi-Mitra nuclear potential and I heard Professor Mitra himself saying, "I call it Naqvi potential".

Being from the local fiefdom family of Shahjahanpur he carried that erstwhile royal blood and was known by a nick name reserved for the off-springs of such families. He was married to a daughter of late Dr Zakir Hussain, former president of Republic of India. In his time he had done mentoring of hockey players of AMU and his name is associated with that glory which brought Olympic Gold Medal to India - Moscow Olympics 1980.

People say that an elephant has no idea about its size and strength. Be that as it may Professor Khan was like that - he had rather high levels of humility. His irritation with some students, like  yours truly and many others, was a manifestation of this characteristic. He never knew that his students smiled in the class because he was opening up the knots in their respective minds. I have had a number of excellent students but he was the person who untied the largest number of knots of technicalities of physics.

I personally learned quantum mechanics and nuclear physics from him. It was well known that he will enjoy teaching so much that inordinately large amount of time will be spent on explanations and inevitably there would be syllabus crisis even after extra classes someone or other from his former students would be scrambled to finish the course.

His extra classes too were legendary. In these classes there was no natural time limit and hence these could extend even up to five hours. For me too many evenings were consumed by such classes. Two years ago  I told one of my classes that as a one time demonstration I am going to implement MZRK long extra class routine for them. And I did that. Calling them on Sunday morning and leaving them at lunch time with two breaks in between. That was for BSc final year students. Students must have enjoyed it in their own way for I also arranged refreshments for them. Students relish it when they get even a cup of tea from their teacher. Soon the other two classes, first and second years of MSc, also tasted the same experience.

Quantum Mechanics is real physics and it is an involved formalism. Even the west, where it all originated, is still awed by this subject. Professor Khan had a flare for it. generations of Aligarh physics students owe their quantum mechanics to him. During 2011 centenary celebrations Professor Tariq Aziz, an alumni of the department, said that Professor Khan is the God of quantum mechanics in India. We shall ignore both the theological and historical exaggeration but this statement does give some perspective on Professor Khan stature in teaching of that difficult and glorious subject.

Many times our own teachers would come from the back door and sit in Professor Khan's quantum mechanics class. this too was a different experience. This too should be taken as a manifestation of highest academic traditions. I shall leave the task of acknowledgement of his teaching by Dr P.K.Ayengar in universities in general to another colleague.

When Professor Khan joined the department as a lecturer the then Head was not so perceptive about actual value of quantum mechanics and he had the silly idea to make it an optional paper. Young Dr Khan would not have anything of that sort. Quantum mechanics can not be optional, it has to be in the core - he asserted. Not only that, he banged the door on the Head of the Department - an extremely rash thing to do in those days. But he had his way ultimately.

Apart from quantum mechanics I was fortunate enough to take two courses on nuclear physics by him. The story in this topic was a continuation of the one in quantum mechanics. He was as lucid about concepts in one topic as in other. Years later he wanted to write a text book of graduate level on nuclear and particle physics with a young faculty member. Latter one was well aware of the fact that Professor Khan was not as up to date in particle physics and hence the project didn't come to a fruit. On second thoughts I feel that they should have gone ahead with the book for they had enough to tell. One of the past pleasant, in fact romantic, feelings of physics department of AMU for me is that even before coming to Aligarh I knew that there is a physicist there who has written a book on Transistor Physics, Dr D.C.Sarkar. Lately Professor J.P.Srivastava has written a book on Condensed Matter Physics and so has Professor R.J.Singh while Professor R. Prasad has written one on Nuclear Physics. This adds to the dignity of the department and same would have been the case if above mentioned book had come out. I am personally aware of another still born book - Professors S.M.A.Hashim Rizi and S.K.Singh were working on a book on Modern physics but they too did not finish it.

One of the characteristics of physics mentoring by Professor Khan was his long walks with his students and sometimes with young physics faculty members. these walks would be inside the campus but these could go out, on Anupshahr Road, for kilometers. everybody doesn't have that kind of stamina but that is what it takes to do the mentoring of a modern scientific tradition.

Even for a physics department nuclear physics is usually not everybody's cup of tea. Consequently only a handful of departments in the country have this specialization. Among the universities Aligarh at one time had the biggest nuclear physics group and even today it is one of the biggest ones. In fact there was a time when the heads of the physics departments in north India were all Aligarh products. Professor Khan lived and worked in those times and he established an academic culture that added to the credit of not only the Sir Syed's Aligarh Movement but even the country as a whole.

There are a myriad more things that I can say but this emotional journey is getting out of control and hence I shall put a lid on it and conclude by paying my most sincere tributes to a very loving teacher with utmost feelings of gratitude.

Verily we are for our Lord and unto him is our return.

Nami gardeed kotah rishta-e-ma'ni riha kardam
Hikayat bood bepayan, bakhamoshi ada kardam

When this thread of interpretation did not shorten I released it
There were a countless stories to be told, these I narrated silently

Friday, October 30, 2015

Answering a Critique of Edward Said

Edward Said, it turned out, was a Palestinian Arab in the US.
It should not have mattered, given the lofty ideals of that country.
But it did.
This would invariably give a feeling of loneliness to any one.
Said too felt it.
And then he talked about it.
But he talked about it in a manner that was robust and hence unassailable.
Clearly the representatives of the cultural hegemony would not appreciate that.
They did not.
Unfortunately for them there was little they could do.

Then there are some who resorted to sheer lying, after a decade of Said's demise.

Here is one such attempt at lying.

My remarks, in the material below, are after the quotations from the original critique.

Enough Said: The False Scholarship of Edward Said

 

  Columbia University’s English Department may seem a surprising place from which to move the world, but this is what Professor Edward Said accomplished. He not only transformed the West’s perception of the Israel-Arab conflict, he also led the way toward a new, post-socialist life for leftism in which the proletariat was replaced by “people of color” as the redeemers of humankind. During the ten years that have passed since his death there have been no signs that his extraordinary influence is diminishing.

Said might be accused of post-colonialism and post-leftism accusation is unfair. His focus was on Islamophobic, orientalist branch of racism and that is it. To introduce extra parameters into the discourse will betray various levels of academic failing on part of the critique.

To complain against undiminished influence of said is plain jealousy. The normal course for a healthy society is to make amends regarding the issues in which it was found to be failing.

To take up issues along the lines that this critique does amounts to lack of courage in regards to a monumental failing of western society, European to begin with and finally American.

 According to a 2005 search on the utility “Syllabus finder,” Said’s books were assigned as reading in eight hundred and sixty-eight courses in American colleges and universities (counting only courses whose syllabi were available online). These ranged across literary criticism, politics, anthropology, Middle East studies, and other disciplines including postcolonial studies, a field widely credited with having grown out of Said’s work. More than forty books have been published about him, including even a few critical ones, but mostly adulatory, such as The Cambridge Introduction to Edward Said, published seven years after his death of leukemia in 2003. Georgetown University, UCLA, and other schools offer courses about him. A 2001 review for the Guardian called him “arguably the most influential intellectual of our time.”
 One can only thank the critique for bringing this monumental adulation to the fore.

The book that made Edward Said famous was Orientalism, published in 1978 when he was forty-three. Said’s objective was to expose the worm at the core of Western civilization, namely, its inability to define itself except over and against an imagined “other.” That “other” was the Oriental, a figure “to be feared . . . or to be controlled.” Ergo, Said claimed that “every European, in what he could say about the Orient, was . . . a racist, an imperialist, and almost totally ethnocentric.” Elsewhere in the text he made clear that what was true for Europeans held equally for Americans.
True again. And again a nice summary of the effects of Said's scholarship. The things he said will look sweeping in nature but he did assert the same. He was not apologetic about it. That his assertions look incredible and vertiginous is an indication of dual kind - Said's courage and the sheer amount of injustice in the western approach towards the orient.

This echoed a theme of 1960s radicalism that was forged in the movements against Jim Crow and against America’s war in Vietnam, namely that the Caucasian race was the scourge of humanity. Rather than shout this accusation from a soapbox, as others had done, Said delivered it in tones that awed readers with erudition. The names of abstruse contemporary theoreticians and obscure bygone academicians rolled off pages strewn with words that sent readers scurrying to their dictionaries. Never mind that some of these words could not be found in dictionaries (“paradeutic”) or that some were misused (“eschatological” where “scatological” was the intended meaning); never mind that some of the citations were pretentious (“the names of Levi-Strauss, Gramsci, and Michel Foucault drop with a dull thud,” commented historian J. H. Plumb, reviewing the book for the New York Times”)—never mind any of this, the important point that evoked frissons of pleasure and excitement was that here was a “person of color” delivering a withering condemnation of the white man and, so to speak, beating him at his own game of intellectual elegance.
Finally the critique commits to something and says something assertive.
Let us get a few things right. Americans did behave as scourge of Vietnam. There is no doubt about it. In the context of the so called orient said did not examine the scourge angle so there is no point in making that analogy. That orientalism is debilitating, overarching, dominating, intimidating, inimical and so on - that said did talk about and he did so with evidence. It was all academic and for all to see. He assiduously avoided the ground effects of orientalism - the west simply can not take that responsibility. Just for example who would be held responsible for Sikh-Muslim massacres at the time of partition of India?

And pray if Said awed his audience with his erudition and beat the western intelligentsia at their own game should that be held against him?

If references to "abstruse contemporary theoreticians and obscure bygone academicians" is so bothersome then what about leaving the discourse to competent people? Said's fault was that he scrambled the most potent concepts against a formidable discourse and succeeded at it. So far the criticism is the one of a loser.

Then if you do not find a word in one dictionary then you go for another one. Said was a man from philology and anyone approaching him must be prepared to the fact that his inventory of arms will be formidable.

Then only people of bad faith bicker about typos like “eschatological” in place of “scatological".

 The complain about Levi-Strauss, Gramsci, and Michel Foucault too is silly. Old and contemporary sociological concepts help academicians to put the things in perspective and Said helped them. If someone can not fathom these concepts then he should engage himself in other pastimes while complaining about them after understanding betrays worse - lack of integrity. The so called orient has been mishandled for so long and when she confronted it was pooh-poohed and now when the confrontation is water tight then this complain about obscurity. One comes only to one unmistakable conclusion - orientalist game is up. Tough rather late but the writing is finally on the wall.

 In truth, Said was an unlikely symbol of the wretched of the earth. His father, who called himself William, had emigrated from Jerusalem (a place he hated, according to Edward) to America in 1911, served in World War I, and become a US citizen. Reluctantly yielding to family pressures, he returned to the Middle East in the 1920s and settled in Cairo, where he made his fortune in business and married an Egyptian woman. Edward, their eldest after a first-born had perished in infancy, was told he was named after the Prince of Wales. He and his four sisters were reared in the Protestant church and in relative opulence, with a box at the opera, membership in country clubs, and piano lessons. They were educated at British and American primary and secondary schools in Cairo until Edward was sent to an elite New England prep school at fifteen, then to Princeton. After graduate studies at Harvard, he began to teach literary criticism, rising to the award of an endowed chair at Columbia by the time he was forty and later to the rank of university professor, Columbia’s highest faculty title.
In the 1995 printing of Orientalism Edward Said wrote an Afterword. There he looks irked at those people who thought of Oruientalism as some sort of the Wretched of the Earth analysis as was done by Franz Fanon.

 A year after Orientalism sent his personal stock soaring, Said published The Question of Palestine. Fifteen years earlier, the Palestine Liberation Organization had been founded in the effort to consecrate a distinctive Palestinian identity, and the announcement of that identity to the world had mostly taken the form of spectacular acts of terror whose purpose was in large measure to draw attention to Palestinian grievances. Now, Columbia University’s Parr Professor of English and Comparative Literature gave the Palestinian cause a dramatically different face.
Someone's freedom fighter is someone else's terrorist. Said argued from Palestinian point of view. Any objective reader can see for herself which view makes more sense. Unfortunately US view can not be taken as objective or unbiased for they in US have been so thoroughly brain washed that any criticism of Israel and its policies towards Palestinian people is either not heard and once you do manage to say your view then you will face the music for the US as well as the Zionist lobby is sure to damn you as anti-Semitic.

He brought authenticity to this task because of his origins and authority because of his membership in the Palestinian National Council, the nominal governing body of the PLO. Assuring his readers that the PLO had, since its bombings and hijackings in the early 1970s, “avoided and condemned terror,” presenting PLO leader Yasir Arafat as “a much misunderstood and maligned political personality,” and asserting his own belief in a Palestinian state alongside—rather than in place of—Israel, Said argued in behalf of “a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza.” This was so compelling as to sweep up New York Times reviewer Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, who wrote: “So logically and eloquently does Professor Said make [his] case, that one momentarily forgets the many countervailing arguments posed by the Israelis.”
This paragraph is both motivated as well as loaded. It would have looked like a summary of status of the issue under consideration but in view of the bias of the critique  it serves only one duplicitous purpose - Said is not reliable because he is using his reliability in favour of the cause of Palastine.

These two books—Orientalism and The Question of Palestine—each of which was followed by various sequels and elaborations, established the twin pillars of Said’s career as the avenging voice of the Palestinians against Israel, and more broadly of the Arabs, Muslims, and other “Orientals” against the West as a whole.
An avenger is a negative avtar for Said. He simply argued the Palestinian cause. To satisfy the blood thirst of the enemies of Palestine he even admitted as being a partisan for Arabs, Muslims and Palestinians.

Palestine atrocity because of Zionists might be some 68 years old but orientalism is about two hundred and fifty years old. Mostly the intellectuals of the society that perpetrated above atrocities knew that their game was long up and hence the disappearance of orientalism at the literary level. But stray supporters, like the present critique, still remain there.

Said rolled American racism and European colonialism into one mélange of white oppression of darker-skinned peoples. He was not the only thinker to have forged this amalgam, but his unique further contribution was to represent “Orientals” as the epitome of the dark-skinned; Muslims as the modal Orientals; Arabs as the essential Muslims; and, finally, Palestinians as the ultimate Arabs. Abracadabra—Israel was transformed from a redemptive refuge from two thousand years of persecution to the very embodiment of white supremacy.
This is excessive perfidy, subterfuge and deception.

What Said did was to extract the pure academic content from the history of colonialism, that irrefutable core of the western attitudes towards the orientals. After that the west has no escape from their responsibilities in creation and maintenance of orientalism including its extension in the form of racism in US and their support for Israeli policies.

There was one final step in this progression: Edward Said as the emblematic Palestinian. From the time he came into the public eye, Said presented himself as an “exile” who had been born and raised in Jerusalem until forced from there at age twelve by the Jews. A sympathetic writer in the Guardian put it: “His evocation of his own experience of exile has led many of his readers in the west to see him as the embodiment of the Palestinian tragedy.” Indeed, he wrote and narrated a 1998 BBC documentary, In Search of Palestine, which presented his personal story as a microcosm of this ongoing Nakba (or catastrophe, as Palestinians call the birth of Israel).
This is ad hominem.

The exile said referred to is the feeling of loneliness in US for a coloured person, specifically an Arab, even if a Christian. It was very noble of him to take up the Palestinian cause and make unity with their cause. To accuse him of opportunism is at best a wrong representation of the reality.

But in September 1999, Commentary published an investigative article by Justus Reid Weiner presenting evidence that Said had largely falsified his background. A trove of documents showed that until he moved to the United States to attend prep school in 1951, Said had resided his entire life in Cairo, not Palestine. A few months later, Said published his autobiography, which confirmed this charge without acknowledging or making any attempt to explain the earlier contrary claims that he had made in discussing his background.

In reaction to the exposé, Said and several of his supporters unleashed a ferocious assault on Weiner. Said sneered that “because he is relatively unknown, Weiner tries to make a name for himself by attacking a better known person’s reputation.” And eleven ideological soul mates of Said’s, styling themselves “The Arab-Jewish Peace Group,” co-signed a letter to the editor that likened Weiner’s article to “deny[ing] the Holocaust.”

Much of the debate between Weiner and Said revolved around the house in which Said was born and that viewers of his BBC documentary were given to understand was the home where he had grown up. Weiner showed from tax and land registry documents that the house never belonged to Said’s father but rather to his aunt. In his rebuttal, Said had written somewhat implausibly: “The family house was indeed a family house in the Arab sense,” meaning that in the eyes of the extended family it belonged to them all even if the official records showed it to be the property only of Edward’s aunt and her offspring.
These are three paragraphs in an article that are ad hominem in character and discuss a single issue - Weiner's calumny against Said. It is sufficient to say that Christopher Hitchens, no Islamophile, called Weiner's article an act of extraordinary mendacity.

 Said’s cynical modus operandi was to stop short, where possible, of telling an outright lie while deliberately leaving a false impression. Even so, he did not always avoid crossing the line or dancing so close to it that whether his words should be labeled a lie or merely a deception amounted to a difference without a distinction. “I have never claimed to have been made a refugee, but rather that my extended family . . . in fact was,” he wrote in response to Weiner. But what was a reader supposed to have inferred from his book, The Pen and the Sword, where he had spoken of his “recollections of . . . the first twelve or thirteen years of my life before I left Palestine?” Or from the article, in the London Review of Books, where he had written: “I was born in Jerusalem and spent most of my formative years there and, after 1948, when my entire family became refugees, in Egypt?”

This is the paragraph that makes the article worthy of refutation and that too not because of its veracity but the nature of sabotage involved in it. To represent reality in a deliberately insinuating manner so as to create a false impression without resorting to outright lies is the forte of orientalist writing. In above paragraph the present critique has tried to slap the same charges on Said that latter tried to establish against the orientalists. What said wrote is there in open and what orientalits wrote is there in public view. The instances present author mentions simply do not prove the case he is trying to make.

It may be that Said, as he claimed, “scrupulously” recounted his life in his autobiography where at last the true facts of his education and residence emerge. But, as his critics continued to ask, does finally telling his story truthfully wipe away twenty years of lying about it? In the end, Said downplayed the matter. In a late interview with the New York Times he said: “I don’t think it’s that important, in any case. . . . I never have represented my case as the issue to be treated. I’ve represented the case of my people.”
At this juncture two issues need attention. The sheer tenacity to continue along the ad hominem lines. Joshua Muravchik who? Either he is terribly disconnected from reality or the current US reality has become so devoid of integrity that their academic reputation has been completely run down. We hope that it is he who is not aware of the fact that he is dragging his own reputation into mud.


Second issue concerns the same issue but at a moral level. To call someone a liar at point blank level is bad manners. Yet lies of the the present critic as well as those of Weiner have to be pointed out point blank for they both have used that as a weapon. Clearly this process can not be elongated ad infinitum. Academic value of both Muravchik and Weiner are nil.

What was important, however, was the light shed on Said’s disingenuous and misleading methods, becasue they also turn out to be the foundation of his scholarly work. The intellectual deceit was especially obvious in his most important book, Orientalism. Its central idea is that Western imperial conquest of Asia and North Africa was entwined with the study and depiction of the native societies, which inevitably entailed misrepresenting and denigrating them.
The critic makes a vitriolic accusation but fails to provide the evidence. The attempt is Goebbelsian.
Said explained: “Knowledge of subject races or Orientals is what makes their management easy and profitable; knowledge gives power, more power requires more knowledge, and so on in an increasingly profitable dialectic of information and control.”

The archetype of those who provided this knowledge was the “Orientalist,” a formal designation for those scholars, most of them Europeans, whose specialties were the languages, culture, history, and sociology of societies of the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent. However, Said explained that he used the term even more broadly to indicate a “Western style for dominating, restructuring, and having authority over the Orient.”
 This is true. Said said this. This is also an accurate diagnosis. Knowledge not as a source of freedom but as a source of control over the orient. Readers please beware of a quote within a quote in the next paragraph.
Orientalism, he said, embodied “dogmas” that “exist . . . in their purest form today in studies of the Arabs and Islam.” He identified the four “principal” ones as these:
one is the absolute and systematic difference between the West, which is rational, developed, humane, superior, and the Orient, which is aberrant, undeveloped, inferior. Another dogma is that abstractions about the Orient . . . are always preferable to direct evidence drawn from modern Oriental realities. A third dogma is that the Orient is eternal, uniform, and incapable of defining itself . . . A fourth dogma is that the Orient is at bottom something either to be feared . . . or to be controlled.
This all is there in Said's original book.
Initial reviews of the book, often by specialists, were mixed, but it appeared at a time when “multiculturalism” was becoming the new dogma of the intellectual elites and took on a life of its own, eventually being translated into more than three dozen languages and becoming one of the most influential and widely assigned texts of the latter part of the twentieth century.
The critic leaves out a few points. He has already mentioned the wide spread acceptance of the book as a reading material. This is a tribute to the accuracy of the analysis by said. But the critic doesn't forget to mention mixed nature of reviews. This overplays the mixed part. It really does. The response to the book was of critical acclaim, of silence as well as stupefaction.  Critical acclaim because his case was not only compelling but decisive, as one reviewer put it. Silence was because of the stark nature of the conclusion. This was the proverbial bump in the carpet when you keep sweeping the dirt under it, the elephant in the drawing room that Said had put the under spot light. No wonder from silence the book went straight to university syllabus. Finally stupefaction too was a reaction for some of the people who simply could not fathom the import of the book called it anti-west thereby exposing their pathetic limitations in assimilating the Saidian narrative.
Critics pointed out a variety of errors in Orientalism, starting with bloopers that suggested Said’s grasp of Middle Eastern history was shaky. Said claimed that “Britain and France dominated the Eastern Mediterranean from about the end of the seventeenth century on,” whereas for another hundred years it was the Ottomans who ruled that area. He had written that the Muslim conquest of Turkey preceded that of North Africa, but in reality it followed by about four hundred years. And he had referred to British “colonial administrators” of Pakistan whereas Pakistan was formed in the wake of decolonization.
The European colonial push was not a single day affair. The critic himself got to revise the Gulf history. And what is that silly bickering about Pakistan?
More serious still was his lack of scruple in the use of sources.
He admits that he has been toying with trifles.
Anthropologist Daniel Martin Varisco, who actually agreed with Said on many ideological issues, observed in his book Reading Orientalism that “one of Said’s rhetorical means for a polemical end is to partially . . . quote a phrase while judiciously neglecting words that would qualify and at times refute what the phrase alone might imply.”
Said was just accused of  falsification by misrepresentation. Let us see whether this one holds water.
He offered as an example of this duplicitous method Said’s use of two quotes from the writings of Sania Hamady, an Arab-American who wrote critically of Arabs. The quotes put her in a bad light, but both times, says Varisco, they were taken from passages where Hamady is merely summarizing someone else’s view, not giving her own. In the same vein, John Rodenbeck, a professor of comparative literature at the American University of Cairo, found that Said’s “persistent misconstruction and misquotation of [the nineteenth century Orientalist Edward] Lane’s words are so clearly willful that they suggest . . . bad faith.”
Did Hamady overcome colonial bias? Apparently someone called Rodenbeck proved that lane, a prototypical orientalist, was not an orientalist!  Orientalism consists of layers upon layers of inaccurate representation and biased views. Said opened all these layers. The poor guinea pigs simply got caught in the whirlwind of that deconstruction. Basically when a western is praising the orient people like present critic as well as the people he quotes in above paragraph would like us to believe that at face value. The reality, most of the time, is that the western is simply posing a facade of fairness and his real agenda is to peddle his own magnanimity. Said ruthlessly exposed this duplicity. That Varisco, Rodenbeck present critic should be calling said duplicitous is pathetic at best. Their slip is showing.
Said’s misleading use of quotes shows the problem with his work in microcosm. On a broad view, Said fundamentally misrepresented his subject.
Said took care of micro details and he presented the broadband conclusions too.
To label former misleading and latter a misrepresentation is monumental claim. Can he back it with evidence?
In challenging Said’s first alleged “dogma” of Orientalism, which ascribes all virtue to the West and its opposite to the Orient, Varisco says that Said is describing “a stereotype that at the time of his writing would have been similarly rejected by the vast majority of those [Said] lumps together as Orientalists.” And the British writer Robert Irwin, whose book Dangerous Knowledge offers a thorough history of Orientalism and also a rebuttal of Said, notes that, historically, “there has been a marked tendency for Orientalists to be anti-imperialists, as their enthusiasm for Arab or Persian or Turkish culture often went hand in hand with a dislike of seeing those people defeated and dominated by the Italians, Russians, British, or French.” (Like Varisco, Irwin makes clear that he is no opponent of Said’s political position, but is offended by his travesty of scholarship.)
This is but a small instance of a large methodological problem that invalidates Said’s work entirely, namely, his selectivity with evidence. Said made clear that his indictment was aimed not at this or that individual but at “Orientalists” per se, which, as we have seen, was a category in which he included all Westerners who said anything about the Orient. Thus, he wrote, “all academic knowledge about India and Egypt is somehow tinged and impressed with, violated by, the gross political fact of empire.” And: “No one writing, thinking, or acting on the Orient could do so without taking account of the limitations on thought and action imposed by Orientalism.”
Why did Said choose to paint with such a broad brush? Because he knew that if he had asserted merely that some Westerners wrote pejoratively or condescendingly or misleadingly about the East while others did not, his argument would have lost much of its provocation. It would have demanded clarification about the relative numbers or influence of the two groups, about variations within the groups, about reciprocal attitudes among Easterners toward the West. Above all, it would have drawn the inevitable retort: so what? Was it news that some individuals favored their own societies over others?
The only way Said could make his generalized indictment seem plausible was to select whatever examples fit it and leave out the rest. When challenged on his omissions, Said replied with hauteur that he was under no obligation to include “every Orientalist who ever lived.” But of course the real issue was whether the ones he included made a representative sample (and whether he presented them faithfully).
The most logical thing to do in this case would be to do a better sampling than said and draw counter conclusion. This is a game that has been already won by Said. How many scholars or worth, might and mettle can take us a task of such gigantic proportions? None. Said might not have been the best academician of his generation but he certainly was one of the best. Any any good academician will weigh his options - is the effort worth it? A bad academician, like the present critic, would not be up to the task while a good one will not have it on his mind - the game was up in 1978. The best conclusion an academician can hope for is that some orientalists were good enough to be not patronizing. This is is not a very attractive proposition as a reward. This is an insignificant footnote. What is worse that one is not likely to come across such a species for orientalism belongs to those times when the west was having a ball at the expense of the orient and people thinking impartially about the orient is possible only in most wild imagination. Yet let the present critic take up this unpromising task.

These methodological failings were mostly lost in the dazzle. What made the book electrifying was that Said had found a new way to condemn the West for its most grievous sins: racism and the subjugation of others.
What methodological problems? Well said himself mentioned the methodological problems. Should one use micro-analysis and lose track of overall contours informing the field? Or use the overall conclusions and a polemic devoid of supporting microscopic evidence? He hit upon the brilliant solution - use personal circumstances to navigate through a few centuries and do a sampling of both. Thus he uses geography and he uses history and he uses culture and he uses particular orientalists and extracts a discourse that, though ugly, is intricately woven and self-supporting and detrimental to the subject - the orient. people finding methodological problems perhaps are hoping that readers will accept their thesis without reading the original book.

This danger can not be overlooked. The book Orientalism is a painful reading because of the sheer pugnacity of the construct, excruciating tenacity, diabolical perseverance and obnoxious gay abandon of the discourse.
With great originality, Said even extended the indictment through the millennia, a depiction that drew a protest from Sadiq al-Azm, a Syrian philosopher of Marxist bent (and one of that country’s most admired dissidents). Wrote Azm:
Said . . . trac[es] the origins of Orientalism all the way back to Homer, Aeschylus, Euripides, and Dante. In other words, Orientalism is not really a thoroughly modern phenomenon, but is the natural product of an ancient and almost irresistible European bent of mind to misrepresent other . . . cultures . . . in favor of Occidental self-affirmation, domination, and ascendency.
We can again summarize the  accusation : Said did not leave any scope even in the past to hide face and absolve the west of responsibility for what they did to the orient. That the west has a long standing fear and hence antagonism should be taken an argument against the orientalist attitude and not against the postman - in this case Said.
Azm may have thought this wrong, but it was heady stuff. If we are talking about a mentality that is continuous before and after Christ then we are talking less about European culture, which is in large measure defined by Christianity, than about the European race. Thus did Orientalism fit the temper of a time when it was widely asserted that all white people were inherently bigoted, and “encounter groups” met at campuses and workplaces so that whites could discover and confront their inner racist. And nowhere was the evidence of this white evil laid out in greater depth and seeming sophistication than in Said’s pages.
The problem with any narrative that begins at pathetic foundations, as this critique does, is that it can only get worse. Above paragraph is a nonconsequential insertion of text hoping that may be some reader will find some point in this that can be used against Said. To begin with this is pathetic. At the end it is dishonest. A dubious improvement if  it was one.
In this atmosphere, wrote the New York Times in its obituary for Said, “Orientalism established Dr. Said as a figure of enormous influence in American and European universities, a hero to many, especially younger faculty and graduate students on the left for whom that book became an intellectual credo and the founding document of what came to be called postcolonial studies.”
Yet another cribbing. No one accused Said for being a leftist. Indeed he made a very non-leftist claim by identifying a very serious lapse on part of Karl Marx. If the left still took to it as a credo then it a tribute to Said's erudition and  courage and honesty of the leftists. That someone should be holding it against said or his thesis is at best a betrayal of integrity.
It was not only American leftists who seized on the book. The Guardian, in its own obituary, observed that:
Orientalism appeared at an opportune time, enabling upwardly mobile academics from non-western countries (many of whom came from families who had benefited from colonialism) to take advantage of the mood of political correctness it helped to engender by associating themselves with “narratives of oppression,” creating successful careers out of transmitting, interpreting and debating representations of the non-western “other.”
This is yet another disingenuous complain. Upwardly mobile non-western academics had already made their mark, in spite of colonialism. A residual orientalist taint is a blot on this article.
Orientalism, added the Guardian, “is credited with helping to change the direction of several disciplines,” a thought echoed by supporters and detractors alike. Admiringly, Stuart Schaar, a professor emeritus of Middle East history at Brooklyn College, wrote that “the academic community has been transformed and the field of literary criticism has been revolutionized as a result of his legacy.”
Clearly this is pure praise for Said's work. Somehow we are supposed to conclude something negative about him from these type of quotations. everytime he goes it becomes worse.
Without ever relinquishing his claim to personify a “glamour-garlanded ideal of ‘outsiderdom,’” as one disillusioned reviewer of a series of lectures Said delivered in London put it, Said and his disciples took power in academia, as reflected in the astonishing number of courses that assigned his books and the frequency with which they were cited. Varisco observed that “a generation of students across disciplines has grown up with limited challenges to the polemical charge by Said that scholars who study the Middle East and Islam still do so institutionally through an interpretive sieve that divides a superior West from an inferior East.” The new Saidian orthodoxy became so utterly dominant in the Middle East Studies Association, and so unfriendly to dissenting voices, that in 2007 Bernard Lewis and Fouad Ajami took the lead in forming an alternative professional organization, the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa.
A 1978 book is being termed as Saidian orthodoxy. The American phase of orientalism, the neo-colonial era, is just coming to its end . This can not be the era of Saidian orthodoxy. That American academia accepted Said's proposition leads to only two conclusions - the decisiveness and conclusive nature of his thesis. The rest is bickering and crying over spilled milk.

Bernard Lewis is still  with us. He was engaged by Said personally and everybody can read those exchanges. It left Lewis badly exposed. He is the person infamous for coining the phrase clash of civilizations made more infamous by late Samuel P. Huntington. Late Fouad Ajami though valiantly took on Huntington but his overall disposition was of a self-hating oriental. less said about such people better it is.
Said was fond of invoking the mantra of “speaking truth to power.” This was an easy boast for someone who opted to live in America, or for that matter to live anywhere, and make a career of denouncing the West and Israel. But while a daring Promethean in the West, Said was more careful closer to native ground. Habib Malik, a historian at the Lebanese American University and a cousin of Said’s, recalls hearing him deliver a talk at the American University of Beirut: “On one occasion he blasted Saddam Hussein and a number of other Arab dictators but stopped short of mentioning [then Syrian dictator] Hafez Assad for obvious reasons: the Syrian mukhabarat [secret police] in Beirut would have picked him up right after the lecture!”
The reviewer has injected Israel for the first time in the narrative. Said was a master craftsman. His analysis of the issue was so dispassionate that this introduction of Israel merely bolsters the pathetic nature of this article. (Yet he goes on and on.) If US boasts of freedom of speech then how does it become a vice to use it, especially if the user, like said, is an Arab? Then should said have spoken against Asad and got arrested? That is a diabolical device to get rid of a person who had shown mirror to the west.
Said’s career, the deviousness and posturing and ineffable vanity of it, would have been mostly an academic matter if he had not been so successful in redefining Arabs and Muslims as the moral equivalent of blacks and in casting Israel as the racist white oppressor.
There is racism and there is colonialism, yes both exist as of now. No two ways about any of them.
Four years after the UN General Assembly had declared Zionism to be a form of racism, Said gave this same idea a highbrow reiteration. Israel did not give Arabs the same right of immigration as Jews, he said mockingly, because they are “‘less developed.’”
Yes Israel is an oppressor. Was all this an attempt to absolve Israel of her crimes?

By this time following has become clear, if it it was still not so for some people. The west had an unfair control of the orient and moreover it did not admit it. Every assertion to that effect could be refuted by the entrenched western academia. Said's Orientalism changed all that. yet there are people like the present critic who would not give up on old ways - most due to lack of understanding.
Decades after Orientalism was published, Said explained that Israel had been its covert target all along:
I don’t think I would have written that book had I not been politically associated with a struggle. The struggle of Arab and Palestinian nationalism is very important to that book. Orientalism is not meant to be an abstract account of some historical formation but rather a part of the liberation from such stereotypes and such domination of my own people, whether they are Arabs, Muslims, or Palestinians.
Again a remark in bad faith. Said's only crime is that he successfully intellectually defended his people. That every single of those people are still physically still abused should be taken as an argument against the case that present critic is trying to make with no success whatsoever.
Said had not acknowledged such an agenda in the pages of Orientalism or at the time of its publication, although this ideological subtext could be discerned in his ferocity toward Bernard Lewis, who, observed Irwin, “was not really attacked by Said for being a bad scholar (which he is not), but for being a supporter of Zionism (which he is).”
This reviewer does not understand the book Orientalism. My apologies for the repetition. In that book said very explicitly mentions personal circumstances being behind the writing of as well as formation of the thesis.
It was also implicit in the identity of those Said exempted from his generalization about Westerners.
If he is exempting some people then he must not be accused of stereotyping.
In the concluding pages of Orientalism, he allowed that a very few “decolonializing” voices could be heard in the West, and in a footnote he offered just two American examples, Noam Chomsky and MERIP, the Middle East Research and Information Project. Chomsky of course is not a Middle East expert or someone who writes often on the Middle East, but he had already carved out a place for himself as the leading Jewish voice of vituperation against Israel.
Noam Chomsky does speak about  these issues.
MERIP, a New Left group formed to cheer Palestinian guerrillas and other Arab revolutionaries, was so single-minded in its devotion to this cause that it praised the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics for causing “a boost in morale among Palestinians” and “halt[ing]” moves “for a ‘settlement’ between Israel and the Arab regimes.”
Criticizing Israel is a taboo in US and hence the world intelligentsia. What said did is no disentangle the subject matter from this construct. the western perfidy, among other things, consists in asserting that so what even if you are talking sense you after all is anti-Zionist. Hence discredited. Unfortunately for them the nuanced analysis in the Orientalism took away that pleasure by sheer dispassionate separation of orientalist paradigm from the, today, 68 years old problem of a homeland for Palestine people.
Although Said’s assault on the Jewish state was thus initially camouflaged, it was devastatingly effective, as his stance on Arab/Israel questions came to dominate Middle East studies. The UCLA historian of the Middle East Nikki Keddie, whose sympathetic work on revolutionary Iran had won Said’s praise in his book Covering Islam, commented:
There has been a tendency in the Middle East field to adopt the word “Orientalism” as a generalized swear-word essentially referring to people who take the “wrong” position on the Arab-Israeli dispute or to people who are judged too “conservative.” It has nothing to do with whether they are good or not good in their disciplines.
This is certainly a surprising assertion by Nikki Keddie. But was said himself guilty of that? An academician of that stature will not assert such an absurd claim.
His reputation made by the success of Orientalism, Said devoted much of the rest of his career to more direct advocacy of the Arab/Muslim/Palestinian cause, starting with the publication of The Question of Palestine in 1979, by which time he was already a member of the PLO’s top official body, the Palestinian National Council.
What said accomplished in the Orientalism is a life time achievement. That he went on about doing something more than writing a mighty book is tribute to his energies as well as commitment. That Said used his reputation in favour of his people is again a complain lacking in integrity. Why should a person not use his abilities for a just cause?
The book was a full-throated polemic. The Jews were the aggressors; and the Palestinians their victims—on all counts and with little nuance.
This is plain silly argument. Israeli persecution of Palestinian people is stark reality and gross injustice. Polemics is not only the first possible reaction but the only rhetoric option in such a case.
Even on the matter of terrorism, Said asserted, “There is nothing in Palestinian history, absolutely nothing at all to rival the record of Zionist terror.”
Another truism from a person who not only knows his issue but happens to be a man who is intimately connected with it. his involvement is personal.
Said proclaimed himself “horrified” by the terrorist acts that “Palestinian men and women . . . were driven to do.” But all blame ultimately rested with Israel, which had “literally produced, manufactured . . . the ‘terrorist.’”
If the truth be told the terrorist label does not look so easy to slap on Palestinian people any more. They are fighting for their very legitimate rights.

The reviewer by now has jumped from Orientalism to the so called terrorism. Anyone who is concerned with Said's work on former might feel like disconnecting now. i shall continue along with the reviewer hoping that at the end of this laboured review I shall be done with him once and for all.
He wrote, with what even a New York Times reviewer called “stunning disingenuousness,” that “at least since the early seventies, the PLO had avoided and condemned terror.” These words appeared just one year after the organization’s bloodiest attack on Israeli civilians, the March 1978 “coastal road massacre,” in which thirty-eight civilians, thirteen of them children, were randomly gunned down, with scores of others injured—and not by any “renegade” faction but by the PLO’s mainstream group, Fatah. (Said himself was already a member of the PLO’s governing body when this “action” was carried out.)
The insinuation is that said himself was responsible for some terrorist acts. If there was even a remote iota of truth in that Said would have been terminated by the Mossad in the US itself - so near complete is the Zionist control on that society. In the beginning the reviewer was miserable and now he has become vicious. Strange level of current US academics.
Said worked hard to solidify the myth that for years Arafat had tried to make peace and been rebuffed: “On occasion after occasion the PLO stated its willingness to accept a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza,” citing resolutions of the Palestinian National Council in 1974 and 1977. This was true, but these resolutions did not convey, as Said went on disingenuously to claim, “an implicit recognition of Israel.” Rather, they envisioned a strategy in which Palestinians would form a government in the West Bank and Gaza, in the event that international diplomacy afforded them this opportunity, not as a step toward peace but with the declared intent of using this territory as a base to fight on to “liberate” the rest of Palestine, i.e., Israel proper. As the PNC’s 1974 resolution stated: “The PLO will struggle against any plan for the establishment of a Palestinian entity the price of which is recognition [of Israel], conciliation, secure borders, and renunciation of the national rights of our people, its right to return, and self-determination on its national soil.”
The reviewer is disingenuous. What Palestian people were opposing was a Palestine with Zionist occupation. In what way is that different from status quo?
In 1988, a decade after Said’s book appeared, the PLO did renounce terror and imply its willingness to acquiesce in Israel’s existence, albeit equivocally. These two pivotal concessions were clearly avowed only in the 1993 Oslo Accords. When Arafat finally took this indispensable step toward peace, one might have expected Said, who had been claiming that this had happened avant la lettre, to praise him. Instead, Said denounced his hero. Arafat, he complained, had “sold his people into enslavement,” and he called Oslo—in which Israel and the PLO recognized each other and pledged to hammer out a two-state settlement—an “instrument of Palestinian surrender.” Back in Arafat’s terrorist days, Said had seen him as “a man of genius” and said that “his people . . . loved him.” (Indeed, “Arafat and the Palestinian will . . . were in a sense interchangeable,” he once gushed.) But signing this agreement with Israel had, at a stroke, transformed Arafat, in Said’s eyes, into “a strutting dictator.” Arafat and his circle had become a bunch of “losers and has-beens” who “should step aside.”
Said himself adopted a new position on the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
Arafat did not live to see the final solution therefore it is meaningless to go over these details.
No longer did he envision a two-state solution, as he had professed to do back when the idea was theoretical, since the main Palestinian organization (on whose board he sat) was not prepared to suffer the existence of Israel in any shape or form. Now, however, he sought instead “to devise a means where the two peoples can live together in one nation as equals.”
This was not a proposal to be taken seriously. In Israel, large numbers of Arabs did live freely but not in complete equality, a fact over which Said often protested. In the Arab states, many Jews had once lived but nearly all had been expelled. In other words, Said’s new formula was nothing more than a fancy way of opposing the only genuine possibility of peace.
This bitter ender’s position was, of course, phrased in terms chosen to sound idealistic. In that sense it was characteristic of Said’s oeuvre and of the movement of which he was such a critical part.
It is clear that the Zionist paradigm has not fooled the Palestianian people. What is worse that the world is waking upto the unjust reality - the miserable condition to which the Palestinians have been reduced under Zionist occupation. Zionism was not a viable idea from day one and now its dangers in reality have become clear to the whole world. If Palestinians have not yet got their homeland then it is a clear indication that the colonial creators of Israel remain successful in their design till today.
Leftism is the stance of those who aspire to make the world a better place, according to their own view, through political action. For roughly a century its modal idea was Marxism, which identified the proletariat as the engine of redemption, a choice that resonated with the age-old Christian belief that the meek shall inherit the earth. As the twentieth century wore on, however, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Nelson Mandela displaced Joe Hill, Mother Bloor, and Henry Wallace as objects of veneration. People of color and strugglers against colonial oppression stirred the hearts of idealists more than leaders of strikes and fighters for a fair day’s pay. Once, Zionism had tapped into that older leftism, seeing itself as a workers’ movement. But instead in the latter twentieth century—and in considerable part thanks to the impact of Edward Said—it became redefined as a movement of white people competing for land with people of color. This transformation meant that from then on the left would be aligned overwhelmingly and ardently against Israel.
Blah, blah, blah.
Joshua Muravchik, a fellow at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies and a frequent contributor to World Affairs, is completing a book on the anti-Israel lobby, from which this article is adapted.
Unfortunately Zionism still lives on.