Saturday, August 02, 2003

Brad DeLong on Edward Said

Brad DeLong has a withering takedown of an article in the Guardian Unlimited written by Edward Said.

There is the obligatory passage that hints at the claim that "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter" and says it is the western media's fault for rebroadcasting videos of the destruction of the World Trade Center ... The only hint of "agency" [in the article] is laid at the door of Britain and the United States. The other catastrophes simply happen ...

I don't want to reproduce too much of DeLong's piece here, as I'd rather you read the original in full. Suffice it to say that if others on the left were this clear-sighted about the nature of certain issues and their advocates, one wouldn't feel quite so pressed between the Scylla of right-wing xenophobia, and the Charybdis of left-wing relativism.

It is both stupid and arrogant to insist, as so many on the right do, that the west is always best, and that the rest of the world has no culture worth learning about or practices worth emulating; but it is also true that not everything that is alien must be good or even better than what is home-grown, that not every course of action can be justified by reference to past sufferings, and that sometimes people are to blame for the ill-fortune that befalls them. If one choses violence instead of peaceful negotiation, as "intellectuals" like Edward Said successfully egged the Palestinians into doing, one cannot expect much sympathy for the harm one suffers in consequence.

The Palestinians will be very fortunate to get 90% of what they were freely offered by Barak, and if or when they do, they will be more than grateful to have been that lucky. Such are the wages of violent rejectionism.