University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World. Clash of Ignorance
This article by Edward Said is a follow up to an earlier article by Samuel Huntington titled “The Clash of Civilization” that was themed around civilization being a source of conflict in the modern world. The focus of Huntington’s article is the prediction of ideological differences between the different cultures say religions Christianity and Islam being a source of conflict in the world.
Summary of the article
This article “Clash of Ignorance” by Edward Said aims at faulting the earlier assumption in the “Clash of civilization” where it is only assumed that the major cultures say the West and Islamism are in conflict. The high level of ignorance in the theory and generalization of the West and Islam as cultures is the main thematic concern by Said in this article. The article faults the general ascribed ideology of the West versus the rest as in the cold war period to a now new modern ideology of Islamism versus the West.
Said makes an argument against some of the popular entities in global politics in modern day. The entities are Islamism and the “West”. Reference is made of Huntington’s article that foresaw the cause of conflict in future politics as being driven by the differences between nations and the different groups of civilization. The general assumption from this is the fact that conflicts will thus be cultural. In the “Clash of Ignorance” the author is against this classification of groups in conflict. Said is in contention of Huntington’s theory on the use of the 9/11 terrorist attack on America as an affirmation to the existence of the two sides in global conflict across the globe CITATION Sai01 l 1033 (Said, 2001). According to Said, the involvement of the terrorists in the 9/11 attacks was just a representation of a small fraction. This thus cannot be construed to be a representation of Islam’s across the world. This argument is strengthened by Said through his allusion to a stand by a practicing Muslim who contends that Islamic extremists are not by any form a representation of the religion in itself but people who are out to distort the face of the religion CITATION Sai01 l 1033 (Said, 2001).
Said also argues against the idea that Muslims across the globe have an assumption of being a superior culture. This is indeed not a properly sampled and proved theory with empirical evidence of the billions of Muslims across the globe. The assertion by the Italian Prime Minister of Islam being adamant to being part of modernity is also wrong according to Said. This can be proved through the embracing of different “western” technologies and the use of the said technologies in the 9/11 attacks on America. Further evidence points at the embracing of western style clothing by some Muslims even the women. The above stated evidence by Said points to the heightened ignorance in factual evidence as regards to calls of existence of conflicts between Islam and the “West” CITATION Sai01 l 1033 (Said, 2001).
In this article, Said makes numerous efforts as a result of lack of evidence to show the divide being asserted between the “West” and “Islam”. He points out the different societies across the world where both sides in this alleged divide live in harmony. The increased level of anti-Islamic perspectives s portrayed in the media in the “West” is enough evidence of the level of hate speech directed towards Muslims who stay in the “West”. Said contents that the genesis of such anti Islamism begun in Europe in the wake of the destruction of Roman Empire by the Arab conquest. This led to the destruction of Christian unity at that time and now the resentment against Muslims has now been reignited. Positive aspects of the past relationship between the two cultures have been overshadowed by this loathe towards Islam. For instance the west embraced science, sociology and philosophy of Islam yet now they seen to cast negative aspersions about the religion in general based on a few activities of terrorists in the name of religion CITATION Sai01 l 1033 (Said, 2001).
In most parts of the article, Said revisits the similarities between the two sides of the alleged divide and accuses the West of having selective memory and double standards. This is based on some of the atrocities committed by the West that are similar to the September 11 attacks in the name of religion. Examples of such atrocities include the Branch Davidians and the supporters of Jim Jones the reverend. Said further attacks the use of powerful idioms in print media in the “West” since most of these articles do not appreciate the complicated histories between the two sides. He argues that this instead fuel the infatuation of being a Westerner CITATION Sai01 l 1033 (Said, 2001).
Said insists on the fact that Islamic extremists misrepresent the religion. This thus can be seen as an effective way to deal with Huntington who uses terrorism to cement the rift between the “West “and “Islam”. The evidence by Said proves his claim of Muslim representation. His demonstration of the lack of distinction between the two sides and the successful integration of the two cultures in clothing, adoption of technology and co-existence in some societies show the lack of conflict between the two cultures.
However, his subjective statements across the article taint his argument. His critic of Huntington’s book “The Root of Muslim Rage” was personal as he says Huntington did confuse himself by showing he is such a clumsy thinker. Generally, this article “The Clash of Ignorance” is quite a persuasive piece of work and convincing. It makes it easy to understand the complex nature of the theme “Islamism” and the “West” CITATION Kar12 l 1033 (Karim & Eid, 2012).
From the analysis explored in this article, the different stakeholders must unite to fight the increasing divide between the two sides of the divide. A closer detailed look at the evidence linking terrorism and Islam raise more speculation about the connection between the two. Terrorism will continue to provide the terrorists a continuous stream of income to finance their activities. Terrorism should thus not be blamed on ideological conflict between the different cultures of the world. Said emphasis is on ignorance and lack of facts on Islam being the reason it is blamed for the increased level of radicalism hence global conflict CITATION Sai01 l 1033 (Said, 2001).
Huntington, S. P. (2007). The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Karim, K. H., & Eid, M. (2012). Clash of Ignorance. Global Media Journal — Canadian Edition Volume 5, Issue 1, 7-27.
Said, E. W. (2001, February 14). Clash of Ignorance. Retrieved from The Nation: www.thenation.com