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The modern left is a weirdly procrustean, static project that wants to halt the natural flow of change, and technological and economic growth so they can impose The Future. For example, we must not notice the dramatic change in attitudes and ideologies regarding race and the concomitant material progress of non-whites. We must instead remain in racial categories reminiscent of late 19th-century Louisiana and forever wear our respective labels as oppressor and oppressed. We must give up the illusion of racial progress and also not continue to grow and innovate in general. Hold still and wait for the enlightened ones to bring you into The Future. Quit trying to get there on your own.
The notion of “colonialism” originated by Edward Said (1935-2003) is just such a weirdly static notion and now one of the principal contrivances of wokeness. We are told that the great sin of the West is that we view Asia and the Middle East through the lens of our own cultural biases and presumed superiority. It is, of course, a complete shocker to be told that the perspective of most people, most of the time, is filtered through their own learned biases, cultural influences of their era, and personal experiences. Heavy.
For example, oddly enough, Americans still tend to think that the mass murder on 9/11 was the result of extremists predictably emerging from a widespread pathological, deformed, dysfunctional political and religious culture when we should instead see it as one event emanating from the richly varied pastiche that is the Arab Muslim world (and somehow our fault). Are the scales falling from your eyes as you read that last bit?
Said was from a Palestinian-Lebanese Arab Christian family. Thus, his ethnicity and religion were the result of the imperialistic Arab Muslim invasions of the region with an interlude of invading Crusader kingdoms followed by the invading Ottoman Empire. His immediate childhood was during (also invading) British rule after the defeat of the Ottomans, concurrent with the rise of Arab nationalism and the founding of the Jewish state. But his resentment of overbearing Anglican faculty at a British school in Jerusalem appears to have been the one influence that trumped all else.
The British were consciously training an administrative class to run things after they left. In other words, Said was educated by people engaged in a project of voluntary decolonization in which the colonizers were leaving behind the principles and values they believed to be most useful to a self-governed people. The bastards.
“Colonialism” is a pretty useless concept as a general explanatory term. To make it useful, we really need to pretend that it is 1903 and we all use terms like “wogs” or “fuzzy-wuzzies” and that we should then feel guilty for that and then remove our own culture from everything to assuage that guilt. What we are then not permitted to do is to notice the fluidity of history, that invasion, conquest, and imposition of the invaders’ culture has been very common, perhaps even the historical norm. And especially not notice the inconvenient fact that, unlike all others, the Western colonial empires ended mostly because of internal political pressures created by Western values. As the Lightbringer said of us: We are the change we were waiting for.
Western culture “imposed” antibiotics, human rights, vastly more productive farming methods, and the end of slavery. Much of the world is said to be undergoing re-colonization because of a choice to acquire Western technology and political values and thus becoming dependent on obtaining the Western cash to do so. In response to that phenomenon, we should feel guilty because the successes that are our heritage are sought by other peoples who are abandoning methods and values that do not work as well. We should be ashamed.
Israel a modern, Westernized state and currently the object of the stale charge of “colonialism” has insisted on voting and due process rights for Arab residents, attempted to invest and upgrade the region, and continues to insist on a deference to freedom of religious expression. All of that is largely missing from the lands in which original indigenous cultures and religions were exterminated by colonizers from Mecca, Baghdad and/or Istanbul. The residents of Gaza should be so lucky as to be “colonized” by Israelis.Published in