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Oct 8

Written by: Diana West
Wednesday, October 08, 2008 7:48 AM 

Photo: Mr. and Mrs. Barack Obama with Mr. and Mrs. Edward Said at an Arab community dinner in Chicago in 1998.

In the post below, I emphasize Andy McCarthy's reporting on the political and academic connections that link Barack Obama, William Ayers, Rashid Khalidi and Edward Said. Said, of course was the author of the virulently anti-Western touchstone Orientalism, which, as scholar Ibn Warraq has put it, "taught an entire generation of Arabs the art of self-pity-- "were it not for the wicked imperialists, racists and Zionists, we would be great once more" --encouraged the Islamic fundamentalist generation of the 1980s, and bludgeoned into silence any criticism of Islam, and even stopped dead the research of eminent Islamologists who felt their findings might offend Muslims sensibilities, and who dared not risk being labelled "orientalist". The aggressive tone of Orientalism is what I have called "intellectual terrorism," since it does not seek to convince by arguments or historical analysis but by spraying charges of racism, imperialism, Eurocentrism, from a moral high ground; anyone who disagrees with Said has insult heaped upon him. The moral high ground is an essential element in Said’s tactics; since he believes his position is morally unimpeachable, Said obviously thinks it justifies him in using any means possible to defend it, including the distortion of the views of eminent scholars, interpreting intellectual and political history in a highly tendentious way, in short twisting the truth. But in any case, he does not believe in the "truth."

Warraq's book Defending the West: A Critique of Edward Said's Orientalism is essential reading for anyone interested in, well, defending the West. That a man who may be elected US president would emerge from the same intellectual orbit as Ayers, Khalidi and Said is a signal of how desperate our times truly are.  

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