1 Mar 2010
Thanks for the very well-written article. I especially appreciated the critique of "White Man's Burden" -- it reminded me of how I got in big trouble in coollege years ago for saying essentially the same thing about the poem -- that it was not a peaen to imperialism.
24 Mar 2010
Unfortunately the embrace of Said by the academy has been one of the main reasons for the decline in serious scholarship in recent years. Said's ideas mean that hard work and detailed research into facts are jettisoned for ideological simplicities.
Nearly any lecture or book which invokes Said and decries "Orientalism" ends up as a projection of "politically correct" pieties onto its subject matter.
24 Mar 2010
For What It Is Worth---RE: India
For reasons I can only guess at so many persons are pushing the teachings of that full-of-self, family abusing, opponent of human progress and attorney "Mahatma" Gandhi as an golden example of humane humaness.It might be well to take a really close look at Gandhi and the British he so opposed as to what they have left to India and the world.
We might also look at the fruits of his behaviors and thoughts in the smaller world of his family.
Gandhi, India, The British & Inheritances
The British found the very disorganized sub-continent of India, misruled by petty and great tyrants, with poor roads made very unsafe by thugee (Worshipers of the goddess Kali, which devotees murdered in her name---And enriched themselves by robbing those victims), unequal treatment of the People under too many non-systems of law and the will of self-serving Maharajahs and other princes, suttee (All but mandatory suicide of widows), religious discrimination and wars-and-terrorism based on Faith differences the lack of any common language or good communications AND too many other evils and limiting factors to list here.
The British imposed order, law and some measure of justice. All, including the various tyrants, were brought under a more-or-less equal rule-of-law; Thugee and suttee were suppressed; The prior and many wars between princes were stopped and banditry across the North-West frontier was resisted; Roads were repaired and made straight and a model railroad system installed; The land was mapped, telegraph service (The first "Internet") was established; Trade was facilitated and some industries established (The basis of today's "Indian Economic Miracle"); English, now THE international language, was introduced and widely spread throughout that sub-Continent; Some measures towards the limiting of evils of the caste system were begun (And are still a "work-in-progress); The peaceful worship of God and gods was protected; And, other positive steps, too many to list here, were taken towards civilization.
What then was Gandhi's thrust and gifts to us---Directly or indirectly? A return towards primitivism, Hindi as an imposed and not neutral language; Resistance to law and order; Three "Indias" rather than one as accomplished by a genocidal division; Return to inter-Religious warfare and terrorism (Including the recent Hindu assaults on Christians as added to the jihad supporters violence towards everyone who disagrees with them); Uncontrolled and barely resisted banditry across the NW frontier; Military dictatorship in Pakistan as the only rational alternative to chaos or the misrule of Mullahs; AND, too many other evils and anti-civilization acts and results to list here.
"By their fruits you will know them".
13 Jul 2010
Mr Ibn Warraq has written a most interesting article on a difficult subject. Edward Said was, as far as I know, a Palestinian Protestant Christian who spent most of his life in the United States. Quite what he could have known of India and the Indians -- who, as Warraq points out, are a highly varied people -- I don't know. I have lived among Indians for the last 20 years, and still cannot understand them at all.
Said claimed to know a great deal about a lot of things, in particular about colonised people. He never lived in a real colony, or lived among colonists -- the United States was never really a colonial power, at least not by the time Said was writing.
Warraq's understanding of Kipling would seem to be fairly accurate, and he appears to have spent much time reading and pondering Kim. Whatever one might think about Kipling, he was very near to being what we might today call a multiculturalist, and was, religiously, something of a relativist. Many of his poems indicate a lack of concern with religious differences, and more of an interest in common bonds between people. He was far too clever to assume that generalisations could be made safely, or that anything could be oversimplified. Ibn Warraq could be said to have the same affinity for differences and subtleties.
It is high time someone took Edward Said on. Sadly, the man died not too long ago, so he can't defend himself, but unfortunately his effect on intellectuals and Near Eastern studies remains with us. His ghost must be laid to rest in order that people can really start understanding other people, instead of assuming that they understand them because they, like Said, can put them into convenient theoretical "boxes". Warraq has made a great point with the article, and set up some useful talking points.