Friday, December 21, 2007

Comment Trail for the Friday:


Critical Secularism: A Reintroduction for Perilous Times(pdf)

An essay by Aamir Mufti on Edward Said's "secular criticism". Interesting.

I left two comments:

1. Next to impossible to figure out Mufti’s ideas. The written style is so thick and obscure, like a yellow pea soup. He insouciantly refers to a multitude of intellectuals and theories that do not all agree with one another. It is like reading the academic equivalent of the rat-tat of an automatic machine gun.

Take a look at this sentence, picked up at random:

“Against the universalist and leveling tendencies of classic secularist thought and institutions, one strategy of revision proposed by contributors to this issue is to rethink the ‘‘vernacular’’ itself as a space for a refashioning of the secular, as in Judy’s essay, but also in Bishnupriya Ghosh’s reading of what she calls ‘‘postcolonial spectrology,’’the haunting of global Englishes by the repressed vernacular languages and their literatures in the former colonies.”

I feel nearly panicky when I read something like this: what’s “postcolonial spectrology’’? What does it mean “the ‘‘vernacular’’ itself” is “a space for a refashioning of the secular”?

On the same page (7) a claim is made (if I dare presume to understand) that there is an essential difference between Wahabiism and Salafism. And the father of Salafist theology, Qutb, the founder of “The Muslim Brotherhood” in Egypt can be regarded as a “secularizing figure”! Doesn’t that rather miss the point that both theologies, popular in the Arabp Islamic world, might have their own casuistrous disputes among themselves, but are extremely oppressive and xenophobic? And Qutb, who regarded American women dancing as the embodiment of immorality and promiscuity, is a secularizing figure?

I almost heaved a sigh of relief when I fell upon more familiar ground, which I think is probably the very point of this exercise: Israel’s perfidy. P. 5 is littered with examples. Here is one, breathtaking in its revisionism of history and reversal of reason:

“He asked of Israelis and Israel’s Jewish supporters elsewhere only the basic decency of acknowledging that their deliverance from annihilation in Europe had come at the cost of the Palestinians, who had paid a steep price for it.”

“their deliverance from annihilation in Europe”??

There were some 7 or 8 million Jews before 1939. 6 were exterminated. It takes a real giant leap of faith to claim that Jews were delivered from annihilation.

More, in the next comment.

2. About Said’s alleged phenomenal generosity (as stated without so much as a blink on p. 5), here is probably a good explanation how he came by it:

I. In July 1937, the Peel Commision issued a report, in which the following was incribed:"Considering what the possibility of finding a refuge in Palestine means to thousands of suffering Jews, is the loss occasioned by Partition, great as it would be, more than Arab generosity can bear?"

II. In one of the most chilling testimonies in the Kastner Trial:

"Brand later testified that Lord Moyne, the British Minister Resident in the Middle East and a close friend of Prime Minister Winston Churchill, was present during one of the interrogations and is alleged to have said: "What can I do with this million Jews? Where can I put them?"

The first statement was written in 1937, when the world was beginning to get wise to what was being planned for the Jews, but even so, the report can only imagine "thousands" of suffering Jews getting a lease on life if permitted to immigrate to Palestine.

The second statement is made in 1944, when most of the world was already familiar with the dire reports that kept coming from Europe about the annihilation of millions of Jews.

In the interim, the British Mandate restricted severely Jewish immigration, in spite of the warning in the Peel report that things looked very bad for the Jews in Europe. The Peel Report does not say that the land is saturated to the point where it can no longer accept more immigrants. Quite the contrary. It stipulates the urgent importance of continued Jewish immigration and British commitment to it. Yet the British restricted immigration, because they buckled to Arab pressure to do so.

The Arabs of Palestine, though addressed with the most explicit plea in the report to show "generosity" to the persecuted Jews of Europe, existentially threatened, did not for a second consider this possibility and continued to mount their pressure on the British to seal the borders. When there was hardly a country in the world open to accept Jewish refugees fleeing from Hitler's ominous programmes, Mandate Palestine, which had been commissioned with the provision of a safe haven for Jews, chose to close ranks with the Arabs and seal the borders, against the Jews.

The only place that would have welcomed these refugees and could have saved hundreds of thousands, if not millions of lives, joined the rest of the world's complicity in these crimes.

Today, the staple Palestinian argument is that they had no responsibility whatsoever for what happened to the Jews. But they did. They bear at least the same responsibility as as every country that ever refused to accept Jews who were looking to get out of Europe.

It takes some chutzpa to attribute “generosity” to Said’s position towards Israel, when he not only failed to acknowledge this history, but also went to a great deal of trouble to legitimize Palestinian mythical narrative. That fabled narrative is treated as a given, indisputable truth in this article.

BTW, the intrinsic dissonance which characterizes this paper can best be exemplified in this statement, which simply does not make sense: "With his sudden passing on September 25, 2003, long feared by those close to him and yet somehow unexpected,"Everyone who was remotely interested in Said for whatever reason knew he was dying. How can his death have been "sudden" or "unexpected" if it was "long feared"?


Terry Glavin:

The Genius Huckabee: "Congratulations Canada on Preserving Your National Igloo."

Meanwhile, avante-garde American left-wing journal Counterpunch exhorts masses to support right wing, tax-cutting, anti-abortion Texas Republican Ron Paul.

My comment:

"There is a larger point..there isn't a whole lot of difference between the wants, needs and desires of the anti-war traditional conservatives and the anti-war leftists and progressives."

"Are we to forever be held back by issues, such as abortion or even National Health Care.."

I'm without speech.

(Via: Engage) The Jewish Forward: Joe-Bashing and the Jews


1. If you can't discuss political issues and/or persons without dragging in Jews or Jewishness, then you are an antisemite.

Of course, some people mention a person's ethnicity in a benign way, or as a necessary bit of information that add to our understanding the issue. That is certainly not covered by my definition of antisemitic bashing. My idea refers to the time when a public person is deemed bad, or his politics evil, and within the argumentation is threaded this extra something - gratuitous and malevolent denigration - in giving pride of place to that "bad" person's Jewishness.
As illustrated in the following example, which I found on some message board:

"… now a misguided madman Jew Lieberman is saying we must bomb Iran.”

Apparently, only crazy Jews advocate tough policies vis a vis Iran, which is why it is necessary to include in criticism of this position the reminder that JL is a Jew when he talks about American foreign policy.

And not only that but to formulate it in such a way as to invoke the nazi stereotype. For "Jew Lieberman" cannot have been un-premeditated. It was intended to hit a raw nerve, to bait. That raw nerve is this Nazi propaganda film: JUD SUSS

2. "It doesn’t help when the biggest Jewish representative bodies allow themselves and their community to be identified in the public eye with a discredited administration and a larger conservative movement in terminal meltdown. It doesn’t help when Jews ignore or deny Israel’s genuine shortcomings. It doesn’t help when they overreact to criticism — hostile, benign or just clumsy — and intimidate their critics into resentful silence, reinforcing their enemies’ worst stereotypes."

This thinking suffers from the debilitating disease of Jewish guilt. I have yet to understand this guilt and the lack of confidence that it brings with it. Maybe it's the battered wife guilt, who thinks it's her fault that her husband beats her, because she undercooked the turkey or forgot to dust the top of the fridge. These are her shortcomings and if only she overcame them, he would no longer have any reason to beat her. Jews still think they can cure antisemitism by being better, keeping a lower profile, changing their loyalties, their opinions, their thinking. But the problem is, antisemitism is not a Jewish disease and Jews cannot cure it. Only non-Jews can do that.

Here’s Sartre on defeating anti-Semitism:

“The cause of the Jews would be half won if only their friends brought to their defense a little of the passion and the perseverance their enemies use to bring them down. In order to waken this passion, what is needed is not to appeal to the generosity of the Aryans- with even the best of them, that virtue is in eclipse. What must be done is to point out to each one that the fate of the Jews is his fate. Not one Frenchman will be free so long as the Jews do not enjoy the fullness of their rights. Not one Frenchman will be secure so long as a single Jew – in France or in the world at large – can fear for his life”

Antisemites are largely incurable, Debating with "t. hollingsworth" is a total waste of time. I would suggest to those who read him to ignore his Jew-baiting stuff unless he comes up with some substantially decent idea. Jew baiters really like to inflame Jews and know which buttons to push. They are bullies and should not be treated as though they have anything useful to say.
Via Solomonia: Virgins of paradise
Palestinian Media Watch reports that a video displaying the joy of martyrdom is back in heavy rotation on Palestinian Authority TV (see video above). Nothing like preparing the people for peace: Virgins of Paradise - music video returns to PA TV. PMW has other examples of the PA's extolling the joy of death in their report.

Now, I can understand the whole 72 Virgins thing, but why would you want to be one of the 72? What's the motivation there?
My comments:
1. I always wondered what what the reward was for a woman martyr. If a man gets 72 virgins, what does she get? 72 young steeds? Not bloody likely, it seems. Her reward is to join the multitudes of other virgins who are there to serve man's needs.
Seriously, though, I did try to find an answer to this enigma by visiting several Islamic websites that answer questions from the believers. But aside from a great deal of verbiage about how equal women were in the Quran, no answer was forthcoming. The best I could find was someone saying that a woman martyr sits next to her husband and waited upon by the 72 virgins.Here is an article by Ibn-Warraq about the mysteries of the Islamic paradise (parents' discretion is advised):,,631332,00.html
2. "..the video is simply a romantic song."

Of course. Just the jihadist version of "Strangers in the night". How wcould we miss all that love?
3. Arabian 19 has better English than Arabian. They should allow Arabian19 to do the public talking.

Anyway, this is a fascinating piece of literary analysis, followed by feminist theory, which beats even Judith Butler in incoherence and irrational thinking.

But really, does it not depress readers of this blog when they encounter this kind of thinking which is based on nothing but contempt for the other's intellect and pure moonshine?


At 12:49 PM EST, Blogger bob said...

Superb set of comments - as always.


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