Orientalism in America – My experiences with American Academia


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My experiences with American academia have coalesced into quite a journey, full of both order & tumult.

But the point of me writing this entry is to focus on what I have come to discover as an unrelenting, institutionalized dogma which pervades the American academic culture, and discourages intellectualism, non-conformity and originality.

This is because academics seem to fear student freedom.

I’ve had my ideas shot down by esteemed professors, albeit in the South good professors are scarce – simply because they did not sit well with the perspective of the professor.

Other professors would commend and encourage the same exact research project shunned by others.

Furthermore I discovered how even American capitalism has infiltrated the academic system which is supposed to be public – with emphasis not on quality education, but rather, on profit motive.

But this culture is America’s and the West’s. Call it “Capitalism, Democracy, Liberalism, Protestantism, Christianity,” whatever

The political culture is backwards here, with many elements of morality being only nominal, applied to the privileged, mainly white, few.

I reject this phenomenon both as an Arab & English speaking, Syrian-Armenian immigrant and as a first-generation American.

In every sense, both academic, musical, in both my individual and collective spheres, morality, free will, and the anomaly that is human nature will triumph over any rationalized, dogmatic system that reduces universal principles to devious political schemes.

I am grateful that I have been able to, by some miracle, attend an institute of higher education, considering that I am still, after 20 years of residence in the state of Florida, still considered a temporary alien, without any permanent status in the US. Never mind the indignation, political, economic and social hardship this has created for me and my family – and millions upon millions of others who are in worse shape – the problem of “nominal justice” or “privileged justice” exists as much in third world countries, authoritarian regimes, as it does in America, where only 40 years ago, African-Americans could not vote.

Let us be frank with ourselves. Before we point our fingers elsewhere, let us look at ourselves in the mirror. Let us lead by example, if indeed, we wish to remain leaders of the world.

 

Guess Who?


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They rushed him. Threw a black bag over his head. His cigarette was left burning on the brick plaza floor.

Hours later his eyes open. The abducted gentleman has regained consciousness.

He can barely make out what he sees.

It looks like three men, all dressed in black garb.

One of them men was clearly saying something. Loud. He was shouting in a foreign language. It wasn’t something he could recognize.

The man continued shouting, as if making demands.

“He will not understand you better if you raise your voice,” one the others suddenly said in english, while chuckling.

At that moment the three men exited the room. There were no windows. The steel door slammed shut. The abducted gentleman was left alone. The bruises on his face and his fatigue knocked him back into a trance.

It wasn’t long after until one of the men returned. This time he was dressed normally. Formally, actually, in suit and tie. The abducted man was awake, and quickly realized the man before him looked nothing as he did before.

“Where am I?” shouted the abducted man?

“Speak when you are spoken to,” ordered the captive’s watcher. “Now tell me. It seems you are an avid writer and journalist on the internet.”

At this point, the abducted man, chained to his chair, began to realize what exactly might be going on. Still, he had no idea in whose hands he was in, why and where.

“Now you see. You can walk out of here and healthy man. As if nothing ever happened, under one condition.”

“Who are you?”

“SILENCE!”

A few moments passed as the two men gazed at each other in the cold steel vault without a blink.

“We want you to stop writing about specific issues related to our interests, specifically about politics in the Middle East.”

“Are you a terrorist? This is against my rights. Are you an American?”

“We would like for you to end your activism regarding the rights of the Palestinians as it is threatening American & British interests in the region. If you do not comply, we will do everything in our efforts to completely disenfranchise you from society; deem you an maniac; broadcast your image across all US media as a terrorist & dangerous criminal. All of course, if you do not abide by our simple request.”

“What of the Arabs? What of the rights of the Palestinians? The world can be at peace without its occupation.”

“Sir, we have endured trials for centuries. We were persecuted, disenfranchised and murdered by the millions. We have no home. We are hated everywhere. We have America & Russia by the balls. We have the muslim world by the neck. Stop your propaganda.”

The End.

CRITICAL ANALYSIS: One Nation, Divided Under Law (The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict & Ferguson)


First, Israel is already a Jewish state, and second, from the perspective of its Arab citizens, it’s a state that’s already seen as a preferential rather than full democracy. And passage of this gratuitous and provocative new law will only widen the growing and still irreconcilable gap between the two.

But now in the highly charged world of Israel’s political right, it’s made its biggest advances to date in the effort to enshrine Israel’s Jewish identity, as one of its Basic Laws that provide the foundation for the country’s legal and political system in the absence of a formal constitution, which Israel does not have. The bill’s defenders (among them Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu) maintain that it states the obvious, is long overdue, and is also essential to making clear to the Arab world (and the Palestinians in particular) that there can be no right of return for Palestinians into Israel proper.

“The natural and best way is for the ‘national’ character of a state to be ensured by the very fact that it has a particular majority.” And, as if taking its cue from the Zionist leader, that’s just what the Israelis have done.

It’s a Jewish state not just through declarations but through deeds as well. History, tradition, law, symbols, and practice anchor Israel’s Jewish nation-state identity through its ancient biblical connections; centuries of exilotic longing; a Law of Return; a national anthem that puts a return to Jewish Zion upfront; a flag that depicts a Jewish prayer shawl and star of David; a Hebrew language unique to only one nation-state; and, above all, as Jabotinsky had hoped, a population of 8 million, 6 million-plus of whom are Jews. It’s hard to believe that despite the secular character of Israel that aliens arriving in Tel Aviv wouldn’t quickly realize that they had landed in a distinct nation-state run by Jewish Israelis.

And yet a series of laws (most notably the Law of Return and the 1952 Citizenship Law) explicitly favor Israeli Jews. Other administrative rules and regulations give preference to Jewish and Zionist organizations in matters relating to access to land and housing. Then there is systemic, institutional, and societal discrimination that simply does not ensureequal allocation of state budgets and symmetrical benefits to Arab and Jewish communities. The clear absence of a shared public square where Israeli Jews and Arabs can participate equally and take pride in the symbols of the state — national anthem, flag, state holidays — can only reinforce a sense of isolation and separation. That Israeli Arabs may well enjoy more rights than citizens of many Arab countries and would likely not choose to live elsewhere, including in a putative state of Palestine on the West Bank and Gaza, are often arguments used to rationalize their second-class status. But these arguments really don’t work. If you are a real democracy then you make a determined commitment to try to be one, and that means doing everything possible to ensure that all citizens of the stare are treated equally in a de jure and de facto manner too.

1. Either democracy is the enemy in the sense that it is, like communism, and other collective ideologies, a method of propagating fears to suppress individual innovation, self-faith, God, diversity and success out of envy and self-asceticism.

2. Perhaps the issue is gerrymandering or manufacturing of facts, by battling democracy through republican-esque funding and manufacturing consent.

3. Israel never intent on being a democracy and can’t be do to religious and exclusive foundation thus rendering it incompatible with modern institutions and international peace. Apartheid, not democracy.

4. Keep in mind total population of Palestinians in the world outnumbers the total number of Israelis: 11 million Palestinians to approximately 9 million Israelis. (If we want to count Jews then we ought to count Muslims, which would be no comparison). Obviously, the Palestinians are not in Israel and the majority have left Palestine due to the occupation; but this diaspora of refugees would not exist if Israel wasn’t there. Democracy, or apartheid?

“Israel is a relatively young country. If you looked at the United States in 1830, roughly 60 years after independence, you would have found a nation where women couldn’t vote (and many white males, too), blacks were slaves, and native Americans’ lands were seized and tribes forcibly relocated. In a way, Israel’s situation was much closer to America’s in the 1950s, when millions of African-Americans suffered de facto and de jure discrimination. So it’s critically important to give maturing democracies an opportunity to deal with inequalities and discriminatory policies. After all, it took America a full century and half, a civil war, and a bitterly contested civil rights movement to reconcile the promise contained in the Declaration of Independence with the reality that our Constitution validated chattel slavery. And by the looks of Ferguson, Missouri, we still have a ways to go before eliminating the patterns of racial discrimination in our system.”

  • America Today: Mike Brown murdered; Eric Garner murdered; prison-system; jim crow…not very promising for ‘democracy’ or ‘State of Israel’.

Searching for the inner me. Almost there. Praying,


Searching for the inner me. Almost there. Praying, at least, that I am almost there. I can smell it, in the air. Really.