|How about we settle for mutual critcism|
But we are civilized people so we didn’t explode. We just grimaced.
Now, here’s why I love and hate Syed at the same time.
Said's argument is not simply that the West criticises the East based on prejudice, poor information, and with the intention to dominate. His argument is that all criticism of the East by the West will always be based on prejudice, poor information and the intention to dominate because it already arises from the position of the dominant. If you are already the stronger one, you will want to maintain that position – and hence, everything you say will be to that end, and hence suspect.
Conclusion: Until the West is a dominant force around the world, it has no business criticising the East. Thus, the Middle East, India and China are free to behave the way they want. Voila!
For a wonderful account of how this frees us Indians of any responsibility, read Girish Shahane’s latest column on Yahoo.
Unfortunately, as much as I love Syed, he has created a peculiar problem for me.
If I believe Syed’s argument that everything lies in positioning, then don’t I come to Britain from a position of victimhood, that of poor little Ms once-colonised-Indian-me. And can a victim ever be objective about the oppressor? And if not, wouldn’t all my criticisms of Britain always be based on prejudice, poor information, and the intention to prove the British as absolute bastards? And thus, automatically invalid?
Only, I’d like to keep my right to criticise Britain – its horrible food, labyrinthine bureaucracy, piss-all weather and an obsession with peculiar creatures like Katie Price – and be taken seriously.
So Syed will have to retire to the back end of my book shelf. I'll reserve my right to criticise anything and everything about Britain. And Andrew can write all the travelogues he wants about Egypt.
From the horse's mouth himself: