Multiculturalism once more

Wednesday, August 16, 2006
I snipped the following from a comment by Truepeers,
When I read it it became clear that "multiculturalism" means never paying attention to what the brown guy on the bus is actually thinking or going through, but just smiling in a self-righteous sense of superiority that you ride the bus with brown, blue and green people.
Ah yes, so true. If one is properly multicultural one is relieved from the necessity to study and understand the Other, one need only appreciate the color and diversity. This observation is wonderfully developed by Gadi Taub in a ynetnews opinion piece, Arrogance behind the radical left.

This narcissism does not start with journalism, nor with demonstrations. It starts with the fading of the left's ideological home front, and its degeneration into reflexes.

This is the damage the new paradigm called "multi-cultural criticism" has caused. This intellectual vogue seems to speak of the other endlessly. But the truth is, it never really does. Rather, it deals with the question of how the Other appears in our own "hegemonic discourse."

This discourse is considered the single source for opression in the world. This school, for which Edward Said's Orientalism is the template, granted a a blanket exemption from actually studying the Other, since, it claims, that would "objectify" them, by turning them into objects of our knowledge (object of orientalism, military intelligence, pedagogy, criminology, psychiatry, and so on).

Said has nothing to say about the Orient, only about orientalism. He's got nothing to say about Arabs, only about Arabists.

The Other has disappeared completely, and (on the basis of sweeping and rather shaky philosophical claims about the all-encompassing nature of the representation), we are now instructed to deal only with ourselves, our forms of representation, our discourse and our sins. Clifford Geertz once called this "epistemological hypochondria."

But, believe it or not, the Other actually exists apart from our own discourse. This may be a real philosophical shock to these new academics, and I don't want to upset anyone, but it now seems that there among those many others out there, some have built missile bases, or so rumor has it, and apparently these missiles have been outragously, outside the boundaries of our Israel-Occidental discourse.


The whole thing is worth a read. I criticize multiculturalism for its effects, Taub criticizes it for its self absorbtion, laziness, and inability to see the other.


Barry Dauphin said...

Of course, Said "objectified" orientalism along with anyone whom he thought practiced it.

Peter UK said...

As well as being lazy,multiculturalism avoided the cardinal sin of "judgementalism",all cultures being equal the left did not have to make "insulting,insensitive" comparisons between Happy Head Hackers and Bat Area residents.

truepeers said...

Funny thing about Said: a few months ago, some blogger was quoting Said quoting "orientalist" opinions of Islam (and perhaps of Arabs). Said was saying (way back in the 80s or 90s) look at how crazily hyperbolic is this orientalism (assuming it would be obvious hate literature to his western audience since no people could really be like this description). But today, the quote seems pretty run-of-the-mill in its depiction of sincere Jihadist motivations. Post 9/11, everyone was nodding and saying Said's orientalist got it about right.

David Thomson said...


Stephen R.C. Hicks’ brilliant “Explaining Postmodernism” helped me to see this much more clearly. The typical leftist does not feel obligated to study the works of thinkers like Gertrude Himmelfarb, Edward Banfield, or Bernard Lewis. They can be conveniently ignored because of their alleged racism, sexism, homophobia, or other politically correct violations. This sure makes one’s life easier.

Syl said...

And if the Other is not studied, if the Other merely exists, it's easier to embrace one-worldism because whatever the Other is, it can simply be seen as various neighborhoods in a community.

These neighborhoods exist within countries but have cross-border ties. Thus the nation-state ceases to have meaning.

Thus war is outmoded and any problems of bad behavior can be solved through police work.

Saad must certainly have embraced pan-arabism.

Bird Dog said...

I had Prof. Said twice as a professor (at Columbia). Both literature courses (he was Prof of Lit). He never once metnioned anything about the Middle East, except for waxing poetical over TE Lawrence, and he turned the whole class into Lawrence fans. Anyway, no-one could have been more Western, suave, atriculate, witty -a wine connoisseur and a lover of English Lit. In fact, a very impressive dude. Who knows where all of this political stuff came from. Midlife crisis?