Tuesday, December 24, 2002

Edward Said tries to smear Kanan Makiya

[From a message to a friend of mine, a political sociologist whose critical work, like Makiya's, has made him unpopular in some circles. --Jeff Weintraub]
I know that you and I share an admiration for Kanan Makiya, so you might be interested in this attack on Makiya that Edward Said wrote for Al Ahram. As usual, it doesn't even pretend to engage Makiya's arguments, but instead is a fairly shameless piece of crude, dishonest, and demagogic character assassination. One of the things that makes it especially despicable (but also hilarious) is that Said makes fun of Makiya for proposing, in Iraq, precisely what Said has always claimed to support in Israel/Palestine: a so-called "secular democratic state" that defines itself in "territorial" terms rather than ethnic or religious terms. Ironically enough, Said also insinuates that Makiya is guilty of what some people used to call "rootless cosmopolitanism" and, believe it or not, attacks him for leading "a prosperous, risk-free life in the West" (unlike Said, of course).
None of this is new from Said, of course, but you know enough about the background to be able to appreciate the special absurdity of this piece.

Yours in struggle,
Jeff Weintraub