Wednesday, December 06, 2006

How Edward Said took intellectuals for a ride

Gary Kamiya is an extremely thoughtful essayist and there he reviews the Robert Irwin book on Orientalism. Even if you don't bother reading the book, the review is provocative and worth your time. Books | How Edward Said took intellectuals for a ride: "Said's book provoked a furious controversy that still rages today. With America trapped in Iraq, and with the Middle East on the verge of a regional crisis, the debate about 'Orientalism' is not a merely academic one. Bush's entire 'war on terror,' and in particular his bizarre decision to invade Iraq, could be seen as driven by Orientalist beliefs and assumptions. Moreover, ominously and quite predictably, 'Orientalist' ideas in Said's sense are beginning to pop up in the national discourse. One of the peculiar ironies of the Iraq war is that its architects used politically correct pieties to justify it. Bush and former deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz repeatedly used nameless skeptics, 'who say the Arab world isn't ready for democracy,' as straw men to give an idealist gloss to their plans for war. Today, disillusioned and angry conservatives are beginning to rebel against these pieties. Rush Limbaugh, as usual, gave crude voice to the inchoate beliefs of millions when he said that we should just 'blow the place up.' As the Iraq nightmare deepens, these opinions are likely to become louder."

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