Middle East studies and storms

Middle East studies and storms
: At Jewsweek, Bradford Pilcher reports on the battles over government funding of Middle East studies departments at U.S. universities.

The ironies are obvious: Just as we are under attack from Middle East sources and just as we are trying to take an active and helpful role there, we need more knowledge of the area and more people who can speak the language and understand the people and the issues; we need more Middle East education.

But these departments are peopled by academics who are in some cases rabidly anti-American.

Edward Said, who virtually invented the field, has criticized the United States as having a “history of reducing whole peoples, countries, and even continents to ruin by nothing short of holocaust.” In 2000, Said referred to the Constitution as a “document reflecting the wealthy, white, slaveholding, Anglophilic men who wrote it,” and implied it was treated with too much reverence by patriotic fundamentalists.

The right has been attacking these professors and the funding is the battleground now. Says Pilcher:

The quality of our intelligence gathering, the strength of our national defense, and our ability to see another 9-11 coming is all at stake.

  • Jay Gilbert

    Not to get into a snit about everything Said writes and says, but that one quote about the authors of the Constitution looks pretty accurate to me.
    What’s been great about America ever since is that succeeding generations have held the document to its word, forcing its promise closer to reality. We sure ain’t there yet, but we get continue to improve, probably far beyond anything the Consitution’s authors ever wished.
    Compare this to any nation Said would prefer to live in. Oh, that’s right, he lives in ……

  • “Compare this to any nation Said would prefer to live in. Oh, that’s right, he lives in ……”
    That’s right. And it means that, in his own context, he’s guilty of receiving stolen property. Beneath all the sheepskins do we find here a common intellectual thief?

  • I don’t see a reason for name calling and trying to trash someone for his political opinions. Whoever Said is, if US is going to stay true to its promise, it should be THE nation in which the Volterian idea of giving your life in order for someone to be able to say what they want, shall prevail.
    On the other hand, I believe what Jeff was talking about was not Said (and his “single handed creation of the field” sounds preposterous at the very least). The matter is the state of Middle Eastern studies ion US universities. I am in a department of Near Eastern Studies in the US, in a very well known university. I propose that the people who think these depts. are full of the enemies of the US are seeing the world very black and white. I suggest instead of looking at US government as the absolute standard of justice, try to understand that people are proposing ALTERNATIVE ideas, not OPPOSING ideas. Does it ever make you wonder why the US Government’s outlook towards the world is so much different than the rest of the world? These people are not enemies of the US, nor do they hate America (proof? you said it yourself: they live here). This country was not built on the people one hundred per-cent agreeing with the status quo and the government policies, if that was the case, we would have never had Emancipation of Slaves, the Civil Rights, and the end of the Vietnam War. So, please do not call the people who disagree with government policies, “Enemy”.

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  • button

    INRE DoctorZin above–
    Yes, I blew by very quickly this morning and made a note of that. But thanks for the reminder. I’ll write a memo to myself to check it out.

  • 357

    Forgive me; I’m getting old and my memory fails me. What peoples, countries and continents did we reduce to ruin again? Aside from the people living in North America prior to 1500, I can’t seem to remember any. Regarding the undeniable slaveholding tendencies of the Founding Fathers, it’s a point well taken. As a people, though, at least we quit it. When did Said’s people cease buying and selling slaves? Oh, that’s right, they haven’t gotten around to that one yet ….