Edward Said

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Every single empire in its official discourse has said that it is not like all the others, that its circumstances are special, that it has a mission to enlighten, civilize, bring order and democracy, and that it uses force only as a last resort. And, sadder still, there always is a chorus of willing intellectuals to say calming words about benign or altruistic empires, as if one shouldn't trust the evidence of one's eyes watching the destruction and the misery and death brought by the latest mission civilizatrice.

Edward Wadie Said (November 1, 1935September 24, 2003) was a Palestinian American literary theorist and public intellectual involved in founding the critical-theory field of postcolonialism.


The [role of the] intellectual ... cannot be played without a sense of being someone whose place it is publicly to raise embarrassing questions, to confront orthodoxy and dogma (rather than to produce them), to be someone who cannot easily be co-opted by governments or corporations, and whose raison d'être is to represent all those people and issues that are routinely forgotten or swept under the rug.
I’m interested in the tension between what is represented and what isn’t represented, between the articulate and the silent.
  • When one learns something one first performs an act of will, because only by willing to learn can one learn.
    • "Vico: Autodidact and Humanist," The Centennial Review, Vol. 11, No. 3 (Summer 1967), p. 340
  • [An elaborated culture has a] density, complexity, and historical-semantic value that is so strong as to make politics possible... Gramsci's insight is to have recognised that subordination, fracturing, diffusion, reproducing, as much as producing, creating, forcing, guiding, are necessary aspects of elaboration.
    • Quoted in Richard Middleton, Studying Popular Music (Philadelphia: Open University Press, 1990, ISBN 0-335-15275-9), p. 248
  • The central fact for me is, I think, that the [role of the] intellectual ... cannot be played without a sense of being someone whose place it is publicly to raise embarrassing questions, to confront orthodoxy and dogma (rather than to produce them), to be someone who cannot easily be co-opted by governments or corporations, and whose raison d'être is to represent all those people and issues that are routinely forgotten or swept under the rug.
  • I retain my faith in the humanist tradition, that it’s possible to deal with discrepant experiences truthfully without resolving into simple things like only women should write about women, only Chicanos should write about Chicanos, only Latinos should write about Latinos… I think that’s the most damaging crime, and misapprehension of what I’m saying. That’s why they debate all these things and they trace them back to me and people say ‘you did that!’ Absolutely not. I’m talking from a universalistic, if you like cosmopolitan point of view to which I adhere and which is the only way the world makes sense to me. I don’t believe in the politics of identity, although in many ways paradoxically I seem to be the father of identity politics, but it’s a thing I totally disbelieve in because I realise the damage that identities have done.
    • Interview with Michaël Zeeman for Leven en Werken [1]
  • I’ve always been interested in what gets left out. That’s why I’m interested in the figure from the “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” the “silent form” that “dost tease us out of thought.” That’s why I’m interested in Raymond Williams’s discussion of the country house poems, where the representation of the country house necessarily excludes the silence of the peasants who have been driven off the land; or the fields that have been manicured to produce the beautiful spaces that Jane Austen exploits in her novels, where livelihood is transformed into property. I’m interested in the tension between what is represented and what isn’t represented, between the articulate and the silent. For me, it has a very particular background in the questioning of the document. What does the document include? What doesn’t it include? That’s why I have been very interested in attempts of the Subaltern Studies Collective, and others, to talk about excluded voices.
    • "An Interview with Edward W. Said" (New York, July–August 1999), The Edward Said Reader (2000) edited by Moustafa Bayoumi and Andrew Rubin, PART IV : Spoken Words, Ch. 17
  • Where cruelty and injustice are concerned, hopelessness is submission, which I believe is immoral.
    • quoted in "Internal Exile" by Pankaj Mishra in The New Yorker, 2021
  • Ideas, cultures, and histories cannot seriously be understood or studied without their force, or more precisely their configurations of power, also being studied.
  • The Orient that appears in Orientalism, then, is a system of representations framed by a whole set of forces that brought the Orient into Western learning, Western consciousness, and later, Western empire. ... The Orient is the stage on which the whole East is confined. On this stage will appear the figures whose role it is to represent the larger whole from which they emanate. The Orient then seems to be, not an unlimited extension beyond the familiar European world, but rather a closed field, a theatrical stage affixed to Europe.
  • It isn't at all a matter of being optimistic, but rather of continuing to have faith in the ongoing and literally unending process of emancipation and enlightenment that, in my opinion, frames and gives direction to the intellectual vocation.
    • Preface to 25th anniversary edition of Orientalism (1994), p. xv
  • Every single empire in its official discourse has said that it is not like all the others, that its circumstances are special, that it has a mission to enlighten, civilize, bring order and democracy, and that it uses force only as a last resort. And, sadder still, there always is a chorus of willing intellectuals to say calming words about benign or altruistic empires, as if one shouldn't trust the evidence of one's eyes watching the destruction and the misery and death brought by the latest mission civilizatrice.
    • "Preface (2003)"
  • Orientalism can be discussed and analyzed as the corporate institution for dealing with the Orient—dealing with it by making statements about it, authorizing views of it, describing it, by teaching it, settling it, ruling over it: in short, Orientalism as a Western style for dominating, restructuring, and having authority over the Orient.
    • p. 3.
  • In the most compelling part of Black Athena, Bernal goes on to show how with the growth of European, and in particular German, nationalism, the original mixed portrait of Attic Greece that obtained into the eighteenth century was gradually expunged of all its non-Aryan elements, just as many years later the Nazis decided to burn all books and ban all authors who were considered non-German, non-Aryan. So from being the product of an invasion from the South (i.e., Africa), as in reality it really was, classical Greece was progressively transformed into the product of an invasion from the Aryan North. Purged of its troublesome non-European elements, Greece thereafter has stood in the Western self-definition—an expedient one, to be sure—as its fons et origo, its source of sweetness and light. The principle underlined by Bernal is the extent to which pedigrees, dynasties, lineages, predecessors are changed to suit the political needs of a later time. Of the unfortunate results this produced in the case of a self-created white Aryan European civilization none of us here need to be convinced.
    • Said, Edward W. (2003), "The Clash of Definitions," in The New Crusades, Emran Qureshi and Michael A. Sells (eds.), New York: Columbia University Press.

The World, the Text, and the Critic (1983)

  • The prevailing situation of criticism ... has given rise to a cult of professional expertise whose effect in general is pernicious. For the intellectual class, expertise has usually been a service rendered, and sold, to the central authority of society. This is the trahison des clercs of which Julien Benda spoke in the 1920s. Expertise in foreign affairs, for example, has usually meant the legitimization of the conduct of foreign policy and, what is more to the point, a sustained investment in revalidating the role of experts in foreign affairs. The same sort of thing is true of literary critics and professional humanists, except that their expertise is based upon noninterference in what Vico grandly calls the world of nations but which prosaically might just as well be called “the world.” We tell our students and our general constituency that we defend the classics, the virtues of a liberal education, and the precious pleasures of literature even as we also show ourselves to be silent (perhaps incompetent) about the historical and social world in which all these things take place. ...

    Humanists and intellectuals accept the idea that ... cultural types are not supposed to interfere in matters for which the social system has not certified them.

    • (pp. 2-3)
  • The intellectual origins of literary theory in Europe were, I think it is accurate to say, insurrectionary. The traditional university, the hegemony of determinism and positivism, the reification of ideological bourgeois “humanism,” the rigid barriers between academic specialties: it was powerful responses to all these that linked together such influential progenitors of today's literary theorist as Saussure, Lukács, Bataille, Lévi-Strauss, Freud, Nietzsche, and Marx. Theory proposed itself as a synthesis overriding the petty fiefdoms within the world of intellectual production, and it was manifestly to be hoped as a result that all the domains of human activity could be seen, and lived, as a unity. ...

    Literary theory, whether of the Left or the Right, has turned its back on these things. This can be considered, I think, the triumph of the ethic of professionalism. But it is no accident that the emergence of so narrowly defined a philosophy of pure textuality and critical noninterference has coincided with the ascendancy of Reaganism.

    • (pp. 3-4)
  • Theory is taught so as to make the student believe that he or she can become a Marxist, a feminist, an Afrocentrist, or a deconstructionist with about the same effort and commitment required in choosing items from a menu.
    • Chap 4, Sect 2
  • The history of other cultures is non-existent until it erupts in confrontation with the United States.
    • Chap 4, Sect 2

Representations of the Intellectual: The 1993 Reith Lectures

The difference I drew earlier between a professional and an amateur intellectual rests precisely on this, that the professional claims detachment on the basis of a profession and pretends to objectivity, whereas the amateur is moved neither by reward nor by the fulfillment of an immediate career plan but by a committed engagement with ideas and values in the public sphere
  • The intellectual's spirit as an amateur can enter and transform the merely professional routine most of us go through into something much more lively and radical; instead of doing what one is supposed to do one can ask why one does it, who benefits from it, how can it reconnect with a personal project and original thoughts.
    • p. 83
  • There is no getting around authority and power, and no getting around the intellectual's relationship to them. How does the intellectual address authority: as a professional supplicant or as its unrewarded, amateurish conscience?
    • p. 83
  • As a way of maintaining relative intellectual independence, having the attitude of an amateur instead of a professional is a better course.
    • p. 87
  • In the end, I am moved by causes and ideas that I can actually choose to support because they conform to values and principles that I believe in.
    • p. 88
  • Everything I have written in these lectures underlines the importance to the intellectual of passionate engagement, risk, exposure, commitment to principles, vulnerability in debating and being involved in worldly causes. For example, the difference I drew earlier between a professional and an amateur intellectual rests precisely on this, that the professional claims detachment on the basis of a profession and pretends to objectivity, whereas the amateur is moved neither by reward nor by the fulfillment of an immediate career plan but by a committed engagement with ideas and values in the public sphere.
    • p. 109

From Oslo to Iraq and the Road Map (2004)

  • When will the Israelis realize—as some already have—that a sustained racist brutality against Arabs, in a Middle East where Israel is surrounded by 300 million Arabs and 1.2 billion Muslims, will bring the Jewish state neither normalcy nor security?
    • "Palestinians Under Siege" (2000)
  • Palestinian officials signed the agreement to partition Hebron, they signed many other agreements without getting prior assurances that the settlements would end (and at least not be increased) and that all signs of military occupation would be effaced. They must now explain publicly what they thought they were doing and why they did it. Then they must let us express our views on their actions and their future. And for once they must listen and try to put the general interest before their own, despite the millions of dollars they have either squandered or squirreled away in Paris apartments and valuable real estate and lucrative business deals with Israel. Enough is enough.
    • "The Tragedy Deepens" (2000)
  • Remember that CNN, Time Warner, Disney, NBC, Fox News, and the rest are part of the same ideological system, serve the same clientele, and are owned by the same relatively tiny group of people whose interest is to keep things as they are. Memory is an inhibition, a possible threat to their hegemony, just as it is very dangerous for a critic to keep making connections between supposedly un- or nonpolitical institutions like the Supreme Court and the Constitution, and on the other hand, base commercial interests.
    • "American Elections: System or Farce?" (2000)
  • There are two contradictory realities on the ground on which Clinton’s Washington talks will founder. One is that the energies released by the intifada are not easily containable in any available form for the foreseeable future: Palestinian protest at what Oslo has wrought is a protest against all aspects of the status quo. The second reality is that whether we like it or not, historical Palestine is now a binational reality suffering the devastation of apartheid. That must end and an era of freedom for Arabs and Jews must soon begin. It falls to us to try now to provide the signposts for a new era. Otherwise it is easy to foresee years more of fruitless and costly struggle.
    • "Trying Again and Again" (2001)
  • So long as they believe in the miracle of an Israel separated from its circumstances and environment—a bizarre notion that Sharon’s election campaign has encouraged—Israeli Jews resemble members of a cult rather than citizens of a modern secular state. And in some ways, it is true that Israel’s early history as a pioneering new state was that of a utopian cult, sustained by people much of whose energy was in shutting out their surroundings while they lived the fantasy of a heroic and pure enterprise. How damaging and how tragic this collective delusion has been is more evident with the passing of each day, and which the coming to power of so anachronistic and ill-suited a figure as the discredited Sharon brings to a garish, bizarre new light. How long will the awakening take, and how much more pain will have to be felt, before the opening of eyes is fully accomplished?
    • "Where Is Israel Going?" (2001)
  • Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs are locked in Sartre’s vision of hell, that of “other people.” There is no escape. Separation can’t work in so tiny a land, any more than apartheid did. Israeli military and economic power insulates Israelis from having to face reality. This is the meaning of Sharon’s election, an antediluvian war criminal summoned out of the mists of time to do what: put the Arabs in their place? Hopeless. Therefore it is up to us to provide the answer that power and paranoia cannot. It isn’t enough to speak generally of peace. One must provide the concrete grounds for it, and those can only come from moral vision, and neither from “pragmatism” nor “practicality.” If we are all to live—this is our imperative—we must capture the imagination not just of our people but of our oppressors. And we have to abide by humane democratic values.
    Is the current Palestinian leadership listening? Can it suggest anything better than this, given its abysmal record in a “peace process” that has led to the present horrors?
    • "The Only Alternative" (2001)
  • The Israeli military causes immense damage to Palestinians day after day: more innocent people are killed, their land destroyed or confiscated, their houses bombed and demolished, their movements circumscribed or stopped entirely. Thousands of civilians cannot find work, go to school, or receive medical treatment as a result of these Israeli actions. Such arrogance and suicidal rage against the Palestinians will bring no results except more suffering and more hatred, which is why in the end Sharon has always failed and resorted to useless murder and pillage. For our own sakes, we must rise above Zionism’s bankruptcy and continue to articulate our own message of peace with justice. If the way seems difficult, it cannot be abandoned. When any of us is stopped, ten others can take his or her place. That is the genuine hallmark of our struggle, and neither censorship nor base complicity with it can prevent its success.
    • "Freud, Zionism, and Vienna" (2001)
  • In a globalized world, in which politics and information are virtually equivalent, Palestinians can no longer afford to shirk a task that, alas, the leadership is simply incapable of comprehending. It must be done if the loss of life and property is to be stopped, and if liberation, not unending servitude to Israel, is the real goal. The irony is that truth and justice are on the Palestinian side, but until Palestinians themselves make that readily apparent—to the world in general, to themselves, to Israelis and Americans in particular—neither truth nor justice can prevail. For a people that has already endured a century’s injustice, surely a proper politics of information is quite possible. What is needed is a redirected and refocused will to victory over military occupation and ethnically and religiously based dispossession.
    • "Time to Turn to the Other Front" (2001)
  • Simply to make a temporary security agreement now is both futile and immoral. Besides, no such agreement can last, so long as Israeli settlements are still being constructed while Palestinians remain locked up in their collective prison. The only negotiations worth anything now must be about the terms of an Israeli withdrawal from all the territories occupied in 1967. Anything else is a waste of our time as a people.
    • "Thinking About Israel" (2001)
  • I shall conclude with a concrete example of what I mean. Amid all the din about normalization, I have noticed one startling absence, namely, the current status of the Palestinian refugees living in every major Arab country, whose condition everywhere—there are no exceptions—is unacceptably miserable. Wherever there are Palestinians in the Arab world, there are rules and regulations forbidding them full status as residents, forbidding them work and travel, requiring them to register with the police on a monthly basis, and so on. It’s not only Israel that treats Palestinians badly, it is the Arab countries who do so also. Now see if there is a sustained campaign by Arab intellectuals against this invidious local treatment of the Palestinian refugees: you won’t see or hear one. What excuse is there for the horrible refugee camps in which so many of them live, even in places like Gaza and the West Bank; what right do local mokhabarat forces have to harass them and generally make their lives miserable? And why is there no protracted press campaign to end this appalling state of affairs? Why, because it is much easier (and less risky) to rail against normalization and Hebrew translations than it is to dramatize the unacceptable condition of Palestinian refugees in the Arab world, who are always being told that they cannot be “normalized” because it would implement Israel’s design. What rubbish!
    • "Defiance, Dignity, and the Rule of Dogma" (2001)
  • As the Arab world spins into further incoherence and shame, it is up to every one of us to speak up against these terrible abuses of power. No one is safe unless every citizen protests what in effect is a reversion to medieval practices of autocracy. If we accuse Israel of what it has done to the Palestinians, we must be willing to apply exactly the same standards of behavior to our own countries. This norm is as true for the American as for the Arab and the Israeli intellectual, who must criticize human rights abuses from a universal point of view, not simply when they occur within the domain of an officially designated enemy. Our own cause is strengthened when we take positions that can be applied to all situations, without conditions such as saying “I disagree with his views, but” as a way of lessening the difficulty and the onus of speaking out. The truth is that, as Arabs, all we have left now is the power of speaking out, and unless we exercise that right, the slide into terminal degeneration cannot ever be stopped. The hour is very late . . .
    • "Enemies of the State" (2001)
  • Never has the media been so influential in determining the course of war as during the Al-Aqsa Intifada, which, as far as the Western media are concerned, has essentially become a battle over images and ideas. Israel has already poured hundreds of millions of dollars into what in Hebrew is called hasbara, or information for the outside world (hence, propaganda). This has included an entire range of efforts: lunches and free trips for influential journalists; seminars for Jewish university students who, over a week in a secluded country estate, can be primed to “defend” Israel on the campus; bombarding congressmen and women with invitations and visits; pamphlets and, most important, money for election campaigns; directing (or, as the case requires, harassing) photographers and writers of the current intifada into producing certain images and not others; lecture and concert tours by prominent Israelis; training commentators to make frequent references to the Holocaust and Israel’s predicament today; many advertisements in the newspapers attacking Arabs and praising Israel; and on and on. Because so many powerful people in the media and publishing business are strong supporters of Israel, the task is made vastly easier.
    • "Propaganda and War" (2001)
  • Whatever the case, the publication of “What Are American Values?” augurs a new and degraded era in the production of intellectual discourse. For when the intellectuals of the most powerful country in the history of the world align themselves so flagrantly with that power, pressing that power’s case instead of urging restraint, reflection, genuine communication, and understanding, we are back to the bad old days of the intellectual war against communism, which we now know brought far too many compromises, collaborations, and fabrications on the part of intellectuals and artists who should have played an altogether different role. Subsidized and underwritten by the government (the CIA especially, which went so far as to provide for the subvention of magazines like Encounter, underwrote scholarly research, travel, and concerts as well as artistic exhibitions), those militantly unreflective and uncritical intellectuals and artists in the 1950s and 1960s brought the whole notion of intellectual honesty and complicity a new and disastrous dimension. For along with that effort went also the domestic campaign to stifle debate, intimidate critics, and restrict thought. For many Americans, like myself, this is a shameful episode in our history, and we must be on our guard against and resist its return.
    • "Thoughts About America" (2002)
  • Israel is now waging a war against civilians, pure and simple, although you will never hear it put that way in the United States. This is a racist war and, in its strategy and tactics, a colonial one as well. People are being killed and made to suffer disproportionately because they are not Jews. What an irony! Yet CNN never refers to “occupied” territories (always rather to “violence in Israel,” as if the main battlefields were the concert halls and cafés of Tel Aviv and not in fact the ghettos and besieged refugee camps of Palestine that have already been surrounded by no less than 150 illegal Israeli settlements). For the past ten years, the great fraud of Oslo was foisted on the world by the United States, with hardly an awareness that only 18 percent of the West Bank was given up, and 60 percent of Gaza. No one knows geography, and it’s better not to know, since the reality on the ground is so astonishing, considering the verbal hoopla and self-congratulation.
    And that pseudo-pundit—the insufferably conceited Thomas Friedman—still has the gall to say that “Arab TV” shows one-sided pictures, as if “Arab TV” should be showing things from Israel’s point of view the way CNN does, with “Mideast violence” the catchall word for the ethnic cleansing that Israel is wreaking on the Palestinians in their ghettos and camps. Has Friedman (or CNN, for that matter) ever tried to point out the difference between an attacking army fighting a colonial war on the territory of the people it has occupied for thirty-five years, and the people defending against that butchery? Of course not, for indeed why should Friedman ever bother to say honestly that there is no Palestinian occupation, there are no Palestinian F-16s, no Apache helicopters, no gunboats, no Merkava tanks, in short, no Palestinian occupation of Israel. So much for Friedman’s credentials as an honest commentator and reporter, who has utterly failed in unadorned terms both to explain the U.S. view and to understand the Arab and Palestinian cause. Can he not see that he and his writings are part of the problem, that in their maundering selfjustifications and their dishonesty, showing no sign of the self-criticism he keeps hectoringly expecting of others, he actually aggravates the ignorance and the misperceptions rather than reducing them? Poor journalist and educator, he.
    • "What Price Oslo?" (2002)
  • Whether they want to or not, the Arab people today face a wholesale attack on their future by an imperial power, America, that acts in concert with Israel to pacify, subdue, and finally reduce us to a bunch of warring fiefdoms whose first loyalty is not to their people but to the great superpower (and its local surrogate) itself. Not to understand that this is the conflict that will shape our area for decades to come is willingly to blind oneself. What is now needed is a breaking of the iron bands that tie Arab societies into sullen knots of disaffected people, insecure leaders, and alienated intellectuals. This is an unprecedented crisis. Unprecedented means are therefore required to confront it. The first step then is to realize the scope of the problem, and then go on to overcome what reduces us to helpless rage and marginalized reaction, a condition by no means to be accepted willingly. The alternative to such an unattractive condition promises a great deal more hope.
    • "The Arab Condition" (2003)

Interviews with Edward W. Said (2004)

  • Culture can be used as a screen between the members of that culture and some of the horrid practices that occur, sometimes in the name of culture. Culture can become a way of disguising the reality, so that one can say "Well we're not just a people who flayed all these buggers and niggers out there, we're a people who produced Titian and we produced Michelangelo." And Arnold, I think, meant it that way. For him culture was a way of stemming the tide of rebellion. It was a way of pacifying, of mystifying.
    • p. 97

Quotes about Said

In alphabetical order by author or source.
  • Early on, I was informed by theorists such as Cixous, Said, Spivak, Gates and mostly postcolonial and feminist theorists.
  • As an Egyptian of Palestinian origin teaching English literature at an American university, who had built his scholarly career on a Polish sailor that became an English writer (Joseph Conrad), Said's assertion that western orientalists could not comprehend the East and easterners because they were born into a different culture, seems somewhat bizarre.
    • Yoav Gelber, Nation and History: Israeli Historiography between Zionism and Post-Zionism (London and Portland, OR: Vallentine Mitchell, 2011), p. 56
  • (MM: Is the writer "the one who belongs nowhere"?) NG: Edward Said wrote, in his wonderful autobiography Out of Place, that to be so in the world may be a way to better understanding between individuals and nations, an open state of being attained against the monolithic cages of nationalism, religion and closed cultures.
  • Lewis was an Orientalist before Edward Said made that a term of abuse. Said was not a scholar of the Middle East, but a polemicist from the Middle East. He was also an intellectual impostor. Ever since Orientalism came out in 1978, proper historians have concluded that it would be a masterpiece, if only it were true. The only people who take Edward Said’s books seriously are, in no particular order of irrelevance, academic poseurs, chippy lefties, and the legions of chippy academic lefty poseurs churned out by the departments of Middle Eastern Studies.
  • I am a medievalist, but [Said] hates the Middle Ages. Altogether he loathes the past, he does not have the ability to enter into the spirit of other ages. He lies about European novelists and twists their words; I am myself a novelist with great sympathy for some of those whom he denounces in his book [Orientalism]. Finally, I am an orientalist, too, and his book is a long and persevering polemic against my subject, so I need to ask: is there anything at all to like in Said's book? – No. It is written far too quickly and carelessly. It abounds with misprints and mis-spelled names. It is an extremely polemic book, and throughout time many polemic books for or against Islam and the Muslim world have been written, but none have been taken seriously in the same way as Said. ... The fact is that researchers cannot build anything on Said's thoughts-dead-end. [...] He has made it difficult for Westerners to say anything critical about Islam and the Muslim world. You cannot do that because then you run the risk of getting denounced as an orientalist, i.e. a racist, an imperialist and other terrible things.
  • To set my cards out on the table at this early stage, that book seems to me a work of malignant charlatanry in which it is hard to distinguish honest mistakes from wilful misrepresentations.
    • Robert Irwin in his history of Orientalism, The Lust of Knowledge. Quoted from Koenraad Elst, The Argumentative Hindu (2012), Chapter: The case for Orientalism
  • The ruling intellectual paradigm in academic area studies is called "post-colonial theory." Post-colonial theory was founded by Edward Said. Said is famous for equating professors who support American foreign policy with the 19th century European intellectuals who propped up racist colonial empires. The core premise of post-colonial theory is that it is immoral for a scholar to put his knowledge of foreign languages and cultures at the service of American power.
    Said has condemned the United States as a nation with "a history of reducing whole peoples, countries, and even continents to ruin by nothing short of holocaust." Said has actively urged his readers to replace their naive belief in America as the defender of liberty and democracy with his supposedly more accurate picture of America as a habitual perpetrator of genocide.
    Indeed, Said has dismissed the very idea of American democracy as a farce. Yet Edward Said is the most honored and influential theorist in academic area studies today. Recently, the Title VI-funded Middle East Study Center at the University of California Santa Barbara sponsored an outreach workshop for K through 12 teachers in which only the writings of Edward Said and his like-minded colleagues were used to explain "why they hate us." Many of the authors assigned in that workshop have been widely condemned, even by liberal and left-leaning commentators, as holding an "anti-American perspective."Yet I do not argue that only material that praises American foreign policy should be assigned in programs sponsored by Title VI. I do argue, however, that our Title VI centers, as currently constituted, purvey an extreme and one-sided perspective which almost invariably criticizes American foreign policy.
    What is needed is a restoration of intellectual and political balance to our area studies programs. In my written testimony, I refer to other examples of bias at Title VI centers.
    Title VI-funded professors take Edward Said's condemnation of scholars who cooperate with the American Government very seriously.
    • Stanley Kurtz (2003), testimony given at Hearing Before the Subcommitee on Select Education of the Committee on Education and the Workforce, 108th Congress
  • A historian of science is not expected to be a scientist, but he is expected to have some basic knowledge of the scientific alphabet. Similarly, a historian of Orientalism—that is to say, the work of historians and philologists—should have at least some acquaintance with the history and philology with which they were concerned. Mr. Said shows astonishing blind spots. He asserts [in his book Orientalism] that “Britain and France dominated the Eastern Mediterranean from about the end of the seventeenth century on [sic]” (p. 17)—that is, when the Ottoman Turks who ruled the eastern Mediterranean were just leaving Austria and Hungary. This rearrangement of history is necessary for Mr. Said's thesis; others are apparently due to unpolemical ignorance—for example his belief that Muslim armies conquered Turkey before North Africa (p. 59)—that is to say, that the eleventh century came before, the seventh, and that Egypt was “annexed” by England (p. 35). Egypt was indeed occupied and dominated, but was never annexed or directly administered. In another remarkable passage, he chides the German philosopher Friedrich Schlegel because, even after he “had practically renounced his Orientalism, he still held that Sanskrit and Persian on the one hand and Greek and German on the other had more affinities with each other than with the Semitic, Chinese, American, or African languages” (p. 98). Mr. Said seems to object to this view—which would not be challenged by any serious philologist—and regards it as a pernicious residue of Schlegel's former Orientalism
    • Bernard Lewis, "The Question of Orientalism", The New York Review of Books, 24 June 1982
  • Just before the United States decided to invade Iraq, I read an essay by Edward Said in which he noted how, for the first time in history, mass protests were taking place against a war before war was declared. It gave him him great hope. He wrote: "Mass action and mass protest on the basis of human community and human sustainability are still formidable tools of human resistance. Call them weapons of the weak..." In this site of "human community," as Said called those with whom we share common cause, our anger and fear are no longer privatized.
  • Because of the attitudes surrounding me, the aesthetic ideology with which I grew up, I came into my twenties believing in poetry, in all art, as the expression of a higher world view, what the critic Edward Said has termed "a quasi-religious wonder, instead of a human sign to be understood in secular and social terms."
  • “The Arab has been on the receiving end not of benign Zionism—which has been restricted to Jews,” Edward Said wrote in The Question of Palestine, “but of an essentially discriminatory and powerful culture, of which, in Palestine, Zionism has been the agent.”
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