Across the Bay

Monday, July 18, 2005

Absent Presence

The Angry Hair AbuKhalil has managed, in a single sentence, to summarize and effectively validate Martin Kramer's critical assessment of the state of modern ME studies, and the role Edward Said and his legacy played in that regard.

As'ad wrote (and please, hold your nose as you run through the chin-rubbing profundity of the first part of the paragraph):

I told Maryam Said (Edward Said's widow) in Beirut two weeks ago that what I miss about Edward the most is his...presence. His very presence powerfully discouraged those Arabs in the US who so badly wanted to mimic Fouad Ajami.

You tell me what that last part means.

In that chapter linked above, Kramer quotes Maxime Rodinson and P. J. Vatikiotis:

"Unaware perhaps," wrote P. J. Vatikiotis (attacked by Said in Orientalism), "Said introduced McCarthyism into Middle Eastern studies — at least in the United States." Rodinson (praised in Orientalism) preferred another analogy, describing the book as "a polemic against orientalism written in a style that was a bit Stalinist." Both comparisons pointed to the very same effect.

We should perhaps add the Hair's testimony as well.