First came the fish bumper stickers, imported from the United States and pasted on cars by members of Egypt’s Coptic minority as a symbol of their Christianity. Before long, some Muslims responded with their own bumper stickers: fish-hungry sharks.
The article shows that the usual anti-Arab suspects — Martin Kramer, Daniel Pipes, David Horowitz, Stanley Kurtz — are supporting or leading advocates of this campaign. Their main boogeyman — when it isn’t simply academics who are foreign or have Middle Eastern roots — is as always Edward Said, who they claim is representative of the field as a whole.
While there is no denying that Said was an influential figure, anyone studying Middle Eastern Studies today will focus more on criticizing Said (from a post-modern or traditionalist perspective) than actually endorsing him. And it is never mentioned anywhere that Said was a professor of English literature, and that Orientalism was in great part devoted to literature rather than political studies. I’m pretty confident that the leading academics working on Middle East politics in the US today would differ with at least some of Said’s thesis even as they recognize that it was an important milestone.
I will post more on this later, with more details on the new law and its potential impact.