Just Another Ant
Tuesday, 25. March 2003
Edward Said: The Other America


Gut gefällt mir der quasi ethnologische Blick auf Amerika. Die Politiker und pundits sowohl der arabischen als auch der westlichen Seite werden heftig kritisiert. Said wirft ihnen kulturelle und sprachliche Unkenntnis vor:

For at least three generations, Arab leaders, politicians, and their more often than not American-trained advisers have been formulating policies for their countries whose basis is an almost completely fictitious and quite fanciful idea of what America is.
[...] the Palestinians' almost caricatural knowledge of America (based mainly on hearsay and cursory readings in Time magazine)
[...] Their simplified view of America was monumentally unchanged, as it still is today.
[...] there is a vital need for knowing as much about its [America's] swirling dynamics as is humanly possible. And that, I believe, also includes commanding an excellent working command of the language, something few Arab leaders (as a case in point) possess.


And if that is not bad enough, the [American] airwaves are filled with ex-military men, terrorism experts, and Middle East policy analysts who know none of the relevant languages, may never have seen any part of the Middle East, and are too poorly educated to be expert at anything, all of them arguing in a memorised jargon about the need for 'us' to do something about Iraq, while preparing our windows and cars for an impending poison gas attack.

Die Israel-Kritik, die (natürlich, möchte man sagen)vorkommt, bereitet mir doch Unbehagen. Said liegt sicher nicht falsch, wenn er beklagt, daß die israelische Gesellschaft und die jüdischen Amerikaner nach Rechts gerückt und eine seltsame Allianz mit christlichen Fundamentalisten unter US-Politikern eingegangen sind (diese Feststellung ist mittlerweile allerdings auch zum Allgemeinplatz geworden).

Die letzten Absätze des Essays treten für ein dynamisches Amerika-Bild ein und richten sich gegen Huntingtons statischen Kulturbegriff:

I have tried to suggest another way of seeing America as indeed a troubled country with a more contested actuality than is usually ascribed to it. I think it is more accurate to apprehend America as embroiled in a serious clash of identities whose counterparts are visible as similar contests throughout the rest of the world. America may have won the Cold War, as the popular phrase has it, but the actual results of that victory within America are very far from clear, the struggle not yet over. Too much of a focus on the American executive's centralising military and political power ignores the internal dialectics that continue and are nowhere near being settled. Abortion rights and the teaching of natural evolution are still issues of unsettled contentiousness.

The great fallacy of Fukuyama's thesis about the end of history, or for that matter Huntington's clash of civilisation theory, is that both wrongly assume that cultural history is a matter of clear-cut boundaries or of beginnings, middles and ends, whereas in fact, the cultural- political field is much more an arena of struggle over identity, self-definition and projection into the future.

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