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A pox on both houses

Reader comment on item: [Hamid Dabashi:] Columbia University's Hysterical Professor

Submitted by Irfan Khawaja (United States), Dec 5, 2004 at 13:22

This is one of those controversies in which the only proper response is: a pox on both houses.

Mr. Luria has accused Prof. Dabashi of anti-Semitism. This is a gigantic claim for which he offers only the feeblest evidence. I don't see any evidence in the "Fistful of Dust" article for anti-Semitism. Some of the article is silly, some of it offensive (e.g., the comparison of the white Israeli soldier to a cobra), but Mr. Luria has not offered any bona fide evidence of anti-Semitism. Perhaps there is anti-Semitism in some of the other articles to which Mr. Luria alludes, but if so, Luria is the one who has the burden of explaining exactly what those articles say that is anti-Semitic. Based on his misstatements about the "Fistful of Dust" article, he can't expect us to go rummaging through Al Ahram hoping to confirm his statements. Given his misdescription of the "Fistful" article, it's reasonable to infer that he's distorting the content of the others. He doesn't give us any citations, anyway.

Incidentally, Dabashi's offensive comparison of the Israeli soldier to a cobra is no different from the dozens of offensive comparisons I have seen of Arabs or Muslims to various predatory or scavenging animals--invariably by supporters of Israel. In the Sept 2001 issue of Commentary, I have an exchange with Midge Decter where I take her to task for referring to Palestinians as "tigers." She makes the excuse there that the reference to tigers was just a metaphor (and then adds for good measure that I don't understand English). Well, maybe Dabashi's reference to cobras was "just a metaphor," too? Or maybe what we need is a general moratorium on the use of animal metaphors for people.

Prof. Dabashi's response to Luria is about as cogent and rational as Luria's accusation. He's right to be offended by the 'anti-Semite' accusation, but there was not a bit of evidence that Luria intended Dabashi the slightest bit of physical harm, and it's simply embarrassing to watch a person of Dabashi's supposed stature react in the childish way that he has to what is, ultimately, an unwanted email. For decades I've heard supporters of the Palestinian cause complain that people unfairly stereotype them as "violent". And what do we then get from the supporters of that cause? The same exact stereotypes, employed the same way, for the same ends.

And frankly, I don't for a minute believe Prof. Dabashi's narrative of what happened in the interchange with the three Israeli soldiers near the Dome of the Rock. A person who reacts to an irate email with a pompous email to the provost and the threat that he's going to call the police (or rather: thathe's magnanimously going to REFRAIN for NOW from calling them, but reserves the right to do so) can hardly be trusted when he claims to discern racism in the sideward glances of a few soldiers. This is a person so hypersensitive to supposed "threats" that there is no reason to believe his first-hand account of anything--any event he witnesses is inevitably going to be refracted through a dozen distortions, less related to objective reality than to his overactive imagination.

Can we, at some point, grow up and get beyond all of this? Is it too much to ask that adults act like adults when it comes to the Arab/Israeli conflict? Isn't the failure to do so really the root of the problem? And when Arabs and Jews (or their partisans) turn to the rest of us non-Arabs and non-Jews for moral support for their causes (as they invariably do), can they be surprised when we turn away from both parties in disgust?

Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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Reader comments (68) on this item

Title Commenter Date Thread
2about Hamid Dabashi: Columbia University's Hysterical Professor [174 words]AllenNov 30, 2012 14:37201079
Self-delusion and confusion [265 words]Borzooyeh ZendigSep 25, 2007 01:52109619
Nut job [19 words]TomAug 7, 2007 10:08105619
Freedom of speech!! [49 words]BradJul 15, 2007 07:27103704
you ruined iran [236 words]somebodyDec 6, 2005 20:0729550
"somebody" ... [49 words]NimaJan 20, 2007 16:0329550
What Arab? [46 words]Matthew SteinbergMay 4, 2005 08:2421986
Madness [48 words]Paul JacksonJan 31, 2005 05:1520011
Hysterical! [16 words]DenniswJan 18, 2005 06:1219717
1Liberalism is a Mental Disorder [213 words]Jer ValentineJan 7, 2005 08:1219497
1EUROSTAN [125 words]DONVANDec 27, 2004 12:4319140
Left-wing institutions [8 words]Octavio JohansonDec 23, 2004 19:0219123
Political Correctness Gone Mad [54 words]Octavio JohansonDec 21, 2004 08:1819059
1british welcome islamification [90 words]steve omaraNov 30, 2011 13:3119059
This is unbelievable [112 words]KarimDec 14, 2004 16:4418992
Response to Sid [62 words]BrutusDec 13, 2004 04:1618970
Why is that Arabs are never the object of the critique? [84 words]IgnacioDec 7, 2004 18:2218915
reason why muslims are not criticised [18 words]steve omaraDec 1, 2011 16:5118915
2Mr Dabashi's factual errors [398 words]J SchamrothDec 7, 2004 06:0918890
Re: comment "A pox on both houses." [185 words]JohnDec 6, 2004 14:1018880
Shame on Columbia University [87 words]Brian Gold, Esq.Dec 6, 2004 11:4918876
A pox on both houses [614 words]Irfan KhawajaDec 5, 2004 13:2218864
Columbia University's Hysterical Professor [117 words]Marcia PetersDec 5, 2004 10:1518863
Empty vessels make the loudest noise. [5 words]BradDec 4, 2004 12:0818855
Dabashi, a dangerous paranoid professor [47 words]Molly KafesDec 4, 2004 07:2218852
The antiracist racism [269 words]R. HARANDIANDec 3, 2004 23:2718846
Response to Vivi Andreson's comment [81 words]Sid BadakhshDec 3, 2004 23:1818845
It's very simple really [51 words]ReportDec 3, 2004 20:1818843
Response to Nima [360 words]Victor LuriaDec 3, 2004 19:3318842
Debating An Islamist [80 words]ReportDec 3, 2004 19:1918840
The professor's harassment claims seem disingenuous [365 words]Yoel NatanDec 2, 2004 19:1618831
The usual tactic [95 words]Doug GuilloryDec 2, 2004 18:2418830
Security vs Morality [54 words]JohnDec 2, 2004 16:4618828
The truth? [141 words]NimaDec 2, 2004 15:0818824
Hypocrite [28 words]Emad NekooDec 2, 2004 14:4518822
boundaries of academic freedom [437 words]Michael Weiss, M.D.Dec 2, 2004 14:2318821
3Iranian are not Persian and Iran is not Persia [210 words]Hayden AtauneDec 2, 2004 13:4218820
real persians are kurds? [8 words]vsbFeb 18, 2010 20:4018820
totally agree with you [26 words]samFeb 26, 2012 01:2818820
Contact Information [156 words]S. BrownDec 2, 2004 11:3518817
1Columbia University Hysterical Professor is Behaving Predictibly [2813 words]William GawthropDec 2, 2004 07:1818815
1SLANDER [1027 words]YOUSUF GABREILAug 25, 2009 03:1418815
Revolting Remarks [155 words]Marcos BerensteinDec 2, 2004 06:3118813
If Dr Dabashi were a politician? [242 words]Romesh ChanderDec 2, 2004 03:4618812
Love? [236 words]JohnDec 2, 2004 02:0718811
MISUSE OF UNIVERSITY CACHET [326 words]IVAN CHERDec 2, 2004 01:4418810
Hamid Dabashi. evidence of an Arab Coward [65 words]David La RochelleDec 2, 2004 01:3218809
The Iranian Hysterical Professor [114 words]M.J.Dec 1, 2004 22:3418808
The Mouse Who Roared [65 words]Marilyn AbramovitzDec 1, 2004 20:5118805
The poor little professor [202 words]Arlinda DeAngelisDec 1, 2004 20:1518804
How could people send their children to Columbia? [54 words]Sarah CiprianoDec 1, 2004 20:0618803
Did I Miss Something? [106 words]YonasonDec 1, 2004 18:0918802
Dabashi an Arab? [55 words]Allen BatesDec 1, 2004 17:4418799
2Entire critique [87 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
Sidney Klawansky, M.D., Ph.D.Dec 1, 2004 17:1818797
This Website [64 words]FTNov 5, 2009 16:3318797
Mr Dabashi is an Islamist. [19 words]RezaJul 16, 2013 21:2518797
Hardly surprising! [70 words]Darwin BarrettDec 1, 2004 15:5718795
Support [39 words]Howard J SchwartzDec 1, 2004 12:4618791
Dabashi the Moslemite [17 words]John PatterkDec 1, 2004 12:2518790
Columbia U. [27 words]Kermit J. Halperin, D.D.S.Dec 1, 2004 10:3118786
Dabashi's cowardice [159 words]Bob CoppsDec 1, 2004 10:1018785
Dethroning Dabashi [135 words]Carmen Waggoner, Ph.D.Dec 1, 2004 10:0318784
Follow the Money [49 words]Abraham IrwinDec 1, 2004 09:0318783
When a man has no moral compunction about telling a lie [153 words]V. ThogersenDec 1, 2004 08:5918782
Dabashi doeth protest too much [64 words]Herbert J. Nevyas, MDDec 1, 2004 08:4318781
There's Method to Hamid's madness - Basic Manipulation [93 words]RPaineDec 1, 2004 08:3618780
Arab hysteria can be hysterical [179 words]Ken BesigDec 1, 2004 07:5818779
Take a look... [58 words]vivi andersenDec 1, 2004 07:3218778

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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