…what you asked for? ماذا تسأل عنه؟

My planned calm sharing of a January 25 Palestine Center talk by Author/Editor Adel Iskandar on Palestinian scholar Edward Said is morphing—disrupted too as we “speak”, into a case in point. Egypt is on fire and what many in the West have aske for is threatening some of the very [western] assumptions Edward Said addressed in his writings, especially Orientalism.

Adel Iskandar speaking at Palestine Center, Washington DC Jan 25, 2011

Mr. Adel Iskandar discussing Edward Said - photo Russ Imrie

…what you asked for? ماذا تسأل عنه؟ 

Russ Imrie January 28, 2011

as Egypt revolts…

9:25 a.m., EST, Friday, January 28, 2011.

8:32 p.m., EST, Saturday, January 29, 2011 UPDATE

It’s a day of disruption here in Arlington, where snow is falling again after yesterday’s traffic chaos and power outages. My planned calm sharing of a January 25 Palestine Center talk by Author/Editor Adel Iskandar on Palestinian scholar Edward Said is morphing—disrupted too as we “speak”, into a case in point. Egypt is on fire and what many in the West have asked for is threatening some of the very [western] assumptions Edward Said addressed in his writings, especially Orientalism.  As an American Indian and tribal member, I strongly value such divergent viewpoints on the bents of empire and its myopic narratives. So, my report on Iskandar’s prescient January 24 talk at the Palestine Center happens three or four fresh paragraphs further on this page, after this …

Subjectively, it’s a great morning in Egypt.

“Greatest moment in Egyptian Modern History unfolding before our eyes!”

posts Adel Iskandar on Facebook. In other places, from other watchtowers, not so much. According to TIME’s Tony Karon earlier this week, concerned U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hedges and is quoted thus: “…assessment is that the Egyptian government is stable and is looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people…”. A. Patnaude, I. Chapple , and J. Mead write in the Wall Street Journal and report “financial turmoil” amidst Egypt’s agony. At the same moment (actually Jan 29 edition) in the stasis-friendly Mideast Times it’s business as usual with obscure references to the rebellions in Tunisia, Yemen and Egypt but more than ample coverage of the doings of the Kuwaiti elite.

It’s clear (or murky as the case may be) something’s happening here. It is not what many foresaw or wanted splashed all over, at least in viral, vivid, technologically irrepressible, and heretofore unprecedented globally exposed detail. Tectonic pressures have been unleashed with social networking “lubricating” the locked plates of empire, economics, and formerly intimidated national discontents. The sounds of rumbling and sirens, smoke from burning tires and the relentless drumbeat of administration-embarrassing Tweets and Facebook wall posts cannot be stopped by hidebound regimes. But they try, oh they try. Meanwhile on  Facebook , instructions are posted on circumventing Egyptian Internet blocking of social networking. شكر, guys—useful stuff in Iran, Pine Ridge, Shanghai, Gaza, Oka and New Orleans. The globally connected will be heard, for better or for worse.(1)

Exactly what the landscapes from Tunisia to Yemen will look like Saturday morning is sure to annoy some and to elate others. What do Nile river delta rice farmers want? What do teenagers in a Cairo Internet lounge want? What do the “traditional” powers such as the U.S. (which makes Hosni Mubarak’s government of Egypt its second largest recipient of economic and military aid after Israel) want? What do idealists and intellectuals around the globe want? What do the rulers in regimes throughout the Middle East want? UPDATE: < What about the PA’s crushing of a demonstration in support of Tunisia’s revolution? (Jan 20)>, What are the fears? What currents figure in the calculus of history and movement? What part of these can be discerned better through the writings of Edward Said?

And now, back to my regularly scheduled (and calm : ) blogging…

Iskandar at the Palestine Center. A bit about the center: across the street from the Watergate towers, the Jerusalem Fund’s Palestine Center hosts the public to fascinating events and illuminating talks by guest speakers. Talks and art shows are free and information is at their website.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s