Across the Bay

Friday, July 23, 2004

Arabism at its Most Ugly

I've mentioned earlier that I was perparing a lengthy post on Darfur and Arab silence/complicity. But as you can tell from the scattered posts lately, I've been held back with tons of work. However, I couldn't let this Op-Ed by Julie Flint pass without comment. Flint has been an unrelenting voice against the horrors committed by the Arabs in Sudan.

Flint nails the ethos of the Arabists like no one else. She truly captures it in all its ugliness, and it's worth quoting at length:

"If there was any doubt about that support or silence, it was dispelled at the issue of the report at the Press Syndicate building in Beirut this week. The opportunity to engage in a debate about the monstrous goings-on in Darfur was lost as Khartoum's ambassador in Lebanon was allowed to hijack the presentation of the report and turn it into a platform for Sudan's lies and propaganda.

Ethnic cleansing by government forces in Darfur? An invention of the people who brought you Abu Ghraib and who lied about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction! (Loud applause.) A conspiracy against the Arabs! (Louder applause.) Rape? What nonsense! Not more than two cases, the ambassador declared - apparently unaware that, under the relentless accumulation of facts, his own government had been compelled to set up committees to investigate accusations of rape in Darfur and help victims through criminal cases.

I recognized few of the faces from the media at the news conference. Where were the grandees of Lebanese journalism, the editorial writers who are respected not only in their own country, but also across the Arab world? Here was a report - researched mainly by Arabs - about a human rights catastrophe that has left 1.5 million Sudanese Muslims homeless and that may kill 300,000 people by year's end. A catastrophe, it has been said, that will probably go down as one of the greatest crimes of our lifetimes. Rwanda in slow motion.

Where were they all? And who was responsible for throwing neutrality in the dustbin by permitting the Sudanese ambassador to speak to his heart's content (and beyond) from a preferential seat on the podium, from where he questioned the integrity of Amnesty International, heaped scorn on human rights concerns and brazenly asserted that he would offer a visa to Sudan - but only to an "Arab" researcher "under my supervision." (Ecstatic applause.)

These paragraphs contain in them a distillation of the essence and spirit, as well as the daily workings of, Arabism. Flint knew it too:

"This was "Arabism" at is most ignorant, its most ugly, its most cruel; blind, uncaring and bigoted."

Or she could simply have said: "This was Arabism. Period."

Reading this piece was like a test-case review of all the pathologies of Arabism. It was like going down a list! The epic speeches, the self-absorbption, the vanity, the complete denial and distance from reality. In short, everything that I've labeled "pathological" on this blog.

Flint once again summarized it perfectly:

"No debate. Just grandstanding and tub-thumping."

This of course has to be coupled, as we've seen above, with the sickening, yet typical, transfer of agency to the US (so the US is hypocritical, but the Arabs using that excuse to cover up for a massive genocide is the peak of integrity!! This is third-worldist relativism/nihilism at its finest, and it should give people who take that anti-American junk as actually meaningful, something to think about.)

Arab racism is also on display:

"The Arab silence on Darfur is reminiscent of the silence that followed the gassing of thousands of Iraqi Kurds by the former regime of Saddam Hussein. Arab states have turned their eyes away while an Arab government working with Arab proxy forces has created what relief officials call the greatest humanitarian disaster in the world today. Their silence is all the more shocking because the victims of this disaster, although not of the same ethnic origin as their oppressors, are, like them, of the Muslim faith."

Gassing the Kurds didn't matter because, let's face it, they're Kurds! It was easy for Edward Said to deny it. This disdain is integral to the Arab narrative! The massacre of the Shi'a didn't really bother the Sunni Arab order. Similarly, the mass murder of Africans is completely inconsequential for the Arabs. Afterall, in the Arab hierarchy of relevance, where does a bunch of °abīd rank next to the sacred cause of the Palestinians, and now the recently added "Iraqi resistance"? (°abīd is the Arabic word for "blacks." Literally, it means "slaves." You could draw a parallel with the use of the English "Nigger." Although, to be precise, the process is somewhat more complex. Nigger came to be derogatory, whereas °abd, used in this context, doesn't actively carry the connotation of slavery, even when that semantic range is part of the word's history. However, the word °abīd can be, and is, easily used in a derogatory, and very racist, sense.)

There is one thing that Flint left out in that paragraph. She left out that other still unresolved horror show in Sudan where the victims where not Arabs nor Muslims, i.e. the southern Sudanese. Official Jihad had been waged against them for years, and the Arab media's silence was just as deafening then as it is now with Darfur.

There you have it, Arabism at its finest. And this deadly ideology is still bought as the banner of self-determination and liberalization of the "Arabs"?! To paraphrase Flint:

"It was (and remains) false. It was (and remains) dangerous. And, to those of us who have seen the human (and intellectual) tragedy that is (Arab nationalism), it was terribly, terribly depressing."