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February 05, 2011

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For the record, I also haven't slept for 36 hours, am in great pain in feet, intestinal blockage for a week, everything is spinning around me, and I feel like death warmed over.

But one must walk through the fire. The fire never burns.

But whatever sloppiness and errors there are above: don't expect further comments from me until you see them.

You are way more productive when you feel ill than I am! I hope your pain recedes, Gary. Thanks again for the fascinating links. Too much up there to read all at once.

"It's one thing to burn the sh!thouse down, and another thing to install plumbing."
-- P. J. O'Rourke

I wish them all the best, but historically spasms like this in the Arab world have not taken the course that they often have in the West. I recommend David Pryce-Jones' "The Closed Circle: An Interpretation of the Arabs", for backstory on why this has been so.

I recommend David Pryce-Jones' "The Closed Circle: An Interpretation of the Arabs", for backstory on why this has been so.

I recommend that people avoid reading racist tripe.

This part of the story they've cobbled together and credited to Griff Witte, Mary Beth Sheridan, and Karen DeYoung, is actually rather hilarious if you know who Frank G. Wisner is, which anyone who has studied intelligence will at least know the name from because of his father:

[...] In addition to Clinton's remarks, the perceived dissonance in the administration's message Saturday was exacerbated when Frank Wisner, a former diplomat dispatched by Obama last week to help ease Mubarak from power, said that the Egyptian president should stay in his post for the near future.

"President Mubarak remains utterly critical in the days ahead as we sort our way toward the future," Wisner told the Munich conference via video link from New York.

A senior administration official expressed chagrin at Wisner's comments, which he said were "self-evidently divergent from our public message" and "not coordinated with the United States" government. "He's a delightful man," the official said. "But he's doing his own thing."

Quelle surprise!

Sanity Inspector:

I wish them all the best, but historically spasms like this in the Arab world have not taken the course that they often have in the West.
Historically, that's a vast generalization: which century are you talking about, which decade, which entities are you identifiying as part of "the Arab world," what countries or states or whatever count as part of "the West"?

I might agree with you, or not, if you were a tad more specific, but probably I'd then just like to stick to actual specifics.

Setting aside that Pryce-Jones wrote in 1989, and the world has changed vastly since then, the whole "shame-honor" thing, while it certainly has some useful aspects to analzye is generally used in an utterly simplistic manner to explain away a lot of stuff that is simply human nature, it generalizes like mad as if all "Arabs" or "Muslims" were a homogenous culture, it takes no account of globalization, let alone the internet, let alone the vast changes these have wrought in culture everywhere, and, sure, it's a book that's worth reading, but in general it's up there with Bernard Lewis in the category of stuff that people who have read one or two books on the subject -- and I'm not putting you in this category, because you may be an expert in the field who is simply recommending one good book, and I certainly would agree that it's well worth reading -- tend to use reductionistly down to bumper-sticker explanations.

Such as the one you started with, which, admittedly, since we're just doing blog comments, not writing scholarly papers, doesn't indicate that you don't know what you're talking about, but is a rather, again, simplistic statement that is so generalized as to be, by itself -- well, perhaps you'd care to elaborate more specifically on what you have in mind?

That might lead toward more productive conversation, perhaps.

Mostly, though, I'd say that the insights there are sufficiently dated as to not be very useful when discussing people who use Twitter and proxies. How much into shame/honor are people that exposed to the internet? Is there a metric, or study, in the last three or so years you could point us to? That would be useful.

Otherwise this leans towards stereotyping to the point of being at least borderline racist. Kind of like making generalizations about How Black People Think, or What Jewish Culture Is Like.

Useful up to an extremely limited degree, but more akin to holding a hand grenade out as a means of shaking hands.

I tend to prefer Pryce-Jones on Mitford/Waugh, and his other earlier work on more specific, then more-recent, topics, such as Hungary, Paris in the Third Reich, and so on, myself. He was good at covering stuff forty years ago, but not exactly up to date, and, well, rather obviously his book was neither written with the use of modern information technology and resulting knowledge, or dealing with the changes wrought by it.

Which kinda matter when discussing "the Arab world."

Or else this whole Tunisia/Egypt thing wouldn't be happening.

Though, to be sure, de Tocqueville is still very useful in understanding Americans, so I'm not saying people should drop-kick the book and ignore it, either.

I have a similar reaction to Bernard Lewis, for what it's worth.

Generally speaking, we're living in 2011, and stuff that's useful for discussing this decade and the next are more insightful when written in the same century, in my opinion.

To make a simplistic generalization.

I remember back in the Viet Nam days it was a recurrant theme in the debate over the war that Asians had a shame/honor thing going in their culture. It's odd to pick up a reference to Arabs having a shame/honor code. Is it possible that some Americans have a tendency to percieve shame/honor dynamics in others when our government can't cntrol events that we would like to control?

Just venturing on some early morning simplistic genralizing

'I recommend David Pryce-Jones' "The Closed Circle: An Interpretation of the Arabs", for backstory on why this has been so.

I recommend that people avoid reading racist tripe.'

I've been working intently to understand why the 'racist' label is consistently invoked by some against those who have advanced some contrary opinion to explain certain cultural results. Since Pryce-Jones has both education and experience behind his views, can you cite analyses that might demonstrate the underlying 'racist' motives?

Thanks in advance for the help.

I can't speak for Turb, and the book isn't in preview in google books, but this doesn't bode well

The author argues that the Arab world is stuck in an age-old tribalism and behavior from which it is unable to evolve. In tribal society, loyalty is extended to close kin and other members of the tribe. In the Arab world those who seek power achieve it by plotting secretly and ruthlessly eliminating their rivals.

Pryce-Jones also has this more current comment on Egypt,

When President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron and their spokesmen come out with denunciations of Mubarak, threaten to cut off aid, and speechify about “orderly transition” as though it were some Holy Grail, they are taking the events unfolding before them at face value. Their haste to jump to conclusions that don’t correspond to the situation is partly the fault of the Euro-centric perspectives that the media pump up, and partly stems from ignorance about the invisible springs of action in the authoritarian Arab state. These Western leaders look like earning the contempt of those in power and those seeking to wrest power. A remarkable achievement.

He certainly seems to be seeing a different situation than I am. I haven't heard calls by Obama to cut off aid, and I'm not sure why one would want an unorderly transition. It seems like he wants to have his cake and eat it too, claiming that he has some special insight to what will happen, yet not really explaining what that is. I can't say that I am going to be eagerly ordering that book.

Someone observed that the people who would seem to be the best informed are saying 'I really don't know what is going to happen'. Pryce-Jones, on the other hand, seems to be sure what is going to happen, but doesn't want to let anyone know. This doesn't reveal racist motives as such, but it does suggest that he is a blowhard who doesn't really think things through.

'Someone observed that the people who would seem to be the best informed are saying 'I really don't know what is going to happen'. Pryce-Jones, on the other hand, seems to be sure what is going to happen, but doesn't want to let anyone know. This doesn't reveal racist motives as such, but it does suggest that he is a blowhard who doesn't really think things through.'

I think no one knows what is going to happen, but the sentiment in the West for Mubarak to go and the hope for a less repressive and more representative regime is apparent. Pryce-Jones, IMO, is taking a realistic view suggesting that what can be seen by the public can be deceiving, when viewed through a Western prism, and Mubarak still has some moves to make. This may merely be the difference between hopes and facts.

I don't think Pryce-Jones is a blowhard or a racist.

As I said, I can't speak for Turbulence, but Pryce-Jones specifically says

When President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron and their spokesmen come out with denunciations of Mubarak, threaten to cut off aid, and speechify about “orderly transition”

Sorry about repeating that, but again, I look at the news and I don't see any threats by Obama and Cameron to cut off aid (Rand Paul, on the other hand, is a different story) What 'denunciations of Mubarak' is he thinking of? Should they be rooting for rioting in the streets and some situation where we don't know who is in charge?

I'm not sure if we can get a mutually agreed upon definition of blowhard, but I'd suggest that it is someone who attempts to increase the distance between other points of view to make his own seem more insightful.

If we look at his other national review pieces, we find gems like this

"This is evidently President Obama’s assumption. Famous as an anti-colonialist and openly contemptuous of the British for the way they used to order people about, he nonetheless sends an envoy to instruct President Mubarak peremptorily to leave office and start a process of “orderly transition.”"

'anti-colonialist'? Really? Throwing his lot in with Dinesh D'Souza? Recall Larison's discussion of this starts with this:

Dinesh D’Souza has authored what may possibly be the most ridiculous piece of Obama analysis yet written. He takes a number of decisions Obama has made on a grab-bag of issues, declares that they are “odd,” and then proceeds to explain the “oddness” he has perceived by cooking up a bizarre thesis that Obama is a die-hard anticolonialist dedicated to his father’s anticolonialist legacy. That must be why he aspired to become President of the world’s remaining superpower and military hegemon–because he secretly loathes the exercise of Western power and wants to rein it in! It must be his deeply-held anticolonialist beliefs that have led him to escalate the U.S. role in Afghanistan, launch numerous drone strikes on Pakistan, and authorize the assassination of U.S. citizens in the name of antiterrorism. Yes, zealous anticolonialism is the obvious answer. Even for D’Souza, whose last book was a strange exercise in blaming Western moral decadence for Islamic terrorism, this is simply stupid. Perhaps most painful of all is D’Souza’s condescending claim that ignorant Americans aren’t familiar with anticolonialism, and that because he is an Indian he can educate all of us about it.

Doesn't look like Pryce-Jones is really taking advantage of his education or his experience. But maybe this is some contractual requirement of the National Review site. Still, when he starts talking about the current situation, well, take a look at his 26 Jan post

The spirit of revolution is shaking the whole Arab order. Egypt is the country to watch; it presents the Tunisian symptoms of distress writ large. Hosni Mubarak has been the president for over thirty years, longer even that Zine Ben Ali in Tunisia, who managed only 27 years as dictator. Presidential elections are due in Egypt in the summer. Eighty-two now and known to be in poor health, Mubarak may decide to fix proceedings as before and stay ruling by emergency decree. In which case, natural death or revolution are the only ways for Egyptians to be rid of him. Tunisians made the same calculus with the 74-year-old Ben Ali.

Egyptians are easy-going as a rule; they take life as it comes. Every so often, the injustices inflicted by their rulers are just too great to bear, and they demonstrate furiously in the streets. Mubarak came to office only because Islamists had shot and killed Anwar Sadat, his predecessor. Not a coward, he is a thug. He’s eliminated through death sentences and imprisonment a large number of Islamist opponents, and it is a safe bet that he’ll do the same now if demonstrators really threaten his position. So far, tear gas and water cannons are keeping crowd control, but if the situation deteriorates, the Egyptian army and police, in contrast to the Tunisians, are likely to obey orders to open fire on unarmed people. The outcome of such a test of strength is uncertain but probably an army officer would emerge, Nasser-like, to take power. There isn’t a viable democratic alternative, and the Islamists are probably good only for starting a civil war.

Mrs. Clinton tells us that the Obama administration’s assessment is that “the Egyptian government is stable.” There has been no pronouncement quite so fanciful as that since Jimmy Carter praised the Shah of Iran as a pillar of stability in the Middle East six short weeks before the Shah was run out of Iran. Along with the Arab order, American policy in the Middle East is also shaking.

OK, lots of mistakes, but he clearly understands the problems of Mubarak, right? But in his next post, he has this

Mubarak has been a faithful ally of the United States these 30 years, and for all his faults has kept the peace. His abrupt and unceremonious dumping signifies that no head of state anywhere can in future trust the United States. Here is a great power that has no qualms about punishing its friends when it is expedient to do so. “Orderly transition” is mere verbiage in the circumstances, displaying ignorance as well as imperialism. No mechanism exists to pass power from Mubarak to anyone else. The plastic hour fills with ambitious contenders: Omar Suleiman, Muhammad El-Baradei, the Muslim Brotherhood, and some likely generals who can command the army. It will be just good luck if the winner of this free-for-all is not brutal and corrupt, and now untrustworthy into the bargain. And in the event that this winner turns out bad, Obama has made sure that the United States gets the blame.

If I suggested that you or some of the other conservatives were uninterested in liberty and freedom and that you support repression in other countries to make us safe, you'd have a melt-down. Yet here is a guy who just comes out and says it as if it is some fact of nature. Maybe he's not a blow-hard, as a blow-hard might have a little more conviction,

If you have some other pieces by Pryce-Jones that show his superior insight and wisdom in matters of the Arab world, please pass them on. But my brief look into what he has written about the current situation has not recommended him to me.

The author argues that the Arab world is stuck in an age-old tribalism and behavior from which it is unable to evolve. In tribal society, loyalty is extended to close kin and other members of the tribe.

This sounds like straight-up, bog-standard cultural anthropology...from, oh, maybe 1955 or so.

It's odd to pick up a reference to Arabs having a shame/honor code.

In the 1950s and 60s, "honor & shame" was widely employed as a cultural template in the anthropology of the Arab world. Many people saw it as not so much an Arab phenomenon as a "Mediterranean" one (thus also encompassing Greece, Italy, Spain & Portugal, etc.). Needless to say, this kind of simplistic, essentializing claptrap went out with Nehru jackets, at least among academic anthropologists.

In tribal society, loyalty is extended to close kin and other members of the tribe.

Sounds like the Koch brothers to me, or the Waltons.

'I wish them all the best, but historically spasms like this in the Arab world have not taken the course that they often have in the West. I recommend David Pryce-Jones' "The Closed Circle: An Interpretation of the Arabs", for backstory on why this has been so.'

I've read through all the subsequent comments and links mostly pointing out that this kind of thinking is outdated and that there has been some kind of cultural transformation in the 21st century so that we should think, because of 'globalization' and the 'internet' and other turn-of-the-century advances, any notion that future political direction in the Arab Middle East will follow historical patterns should be significantly discounted.

I hope, but seeing is believing.

Since Pryce-Jones has both education and experience behind his views, can you cite analyses that might demonstrate the underlying 'racist' motives?

Um, what? What is this education that Pryce-Jones has? And what is his experience?

Seriously, as far as I can tell, the guy got an undergraduate degree in literature over half a century ago. That's it. He doesn't speak Arabic. He doesn't work in any Arab nations. He's made no scholarly contributions. It seems the only institution willing to hire him has such low standards that they also employ geniuses like Jonah Goldberg. In short: he's a hack, a man with no relevant education or experience who just spouts uninformed opinions about Arab culture without bothering to learn anything about it.

I neither know nor care about whether Pryce-Jones is a racist deep at heart. I think his book is racist tripe because:

(1) He's got no relevant education or experience to be commenting on the Arab world, and

(2) He did so anyway, but his explanation for all problems there is essentializing: the problems of the Arab world are due only to the defective culture of the Arabs. They do not represent universal problems or universal human nature. We have incredibly powerful theories in economics and political science that are totally invisible to Pryce-Jones: there is no resource curse in his world.

I mean, I wonder if Pryce-Jones' "thesis" can apply elsewhere. Does Asia's tribalism and shame culture explain the lack of democracy there? 1.3 billion Chinese can't be wrong and places like Singapore, Burma, Thailand and North Korea aren't terribly Democratic. Even Japan and South Korea, although ostensibly democratic, had little meaningful political participation for most of the last half century. Hey! The same explanation also applies to sub-Sahara Africa! Isn't it amazing that the cultural defects of Arabs are so powerful and pervasive that they can warp completely alien societies around the world?!

(3) His basis for concluding (2) is facts that just gets wrong; i.e., a product of his ignorance. I'm an Arab. And I find explanations of Arab culture premised on tribalism to be ridiculous and absurd because I don't see a great deal of tribalism in the Arab world. Most Arabs are urbanized and have no tribal network. And that's not some closely guarded secret: that's obvious to anyone with a brain who bothered to spend an hour reading the most basic things about the Arab world would, let alone anyone who ever bothered to actually talk to some Arabs.

Just to be clear, I don't automatically reject all essentializing explanations. But anyone making one has a high burden to clear. They have to demonstrate competence in the field and make a strong argument. The truth is, historically, the vast majority of people who have made essentializing arguments in the past (1) did so because of unscientific racist beliefs and (2) were wrong. For example, see all the people who believed that women could never be doctors or lawyers or engineers (because women obviously lack the intellect needed) or all the people who insisted that Arabs could never be civilized or that blacks could never read and write, etc. When people keep making the same type of wrong arguments, over and over, for millenia, and keep getting humiliated by history, at some point, we have to grow up and recognize that these arguments are...not good.

LJ, many thanks for speaking up -- I couldn't bear the thought of reading through Pryce-Jones' most recent, um, work. And thanks to Wonkie, UK, Jacob and Gary as well.


I've read through all the subsequent comments and links mostly pointing out that this kind of thinking is outdated

That's not it at all. I mean, that's like saying that physicians now think that using leeches and blood letting as a treatment for everything is outdated, but that's no reason to think that leeches and blood letting are ineffective.

Uncle Kvetch's larger point was that the reason this sort of essentializing is outdated is because it doesn't tell us a damn thing about the world; it just makes people feel better about themselves. But it has no explanatory power. And no real evidence justifying it either.

and that there has been some kind of cultural transformation in the 21st century so that we should think, because of 'globalization' and the 'internet' and other turn-of-the-century advances, any notion that future political direction in the Arab Middle East will follow historical patterns should be significantly discounted.

I don't know who you're arguing with here. No one this thread has said that historical patterns are irrelevant. What has been said consistently is that Pryce-Jones can't tell us much that is useful about those patterns or how they apply here because (1) he's ignorant and (2) his theories are garbage.

I'm sorry if I sound impatient, but I'm only answering now because I just got back from church, where several people had questions about Egypt (since I'm Egyptian). I generally love talking about this stuff. But one very smart guy, a gentleman with a PhD in quantum physics, was asking me to explain the effect of tribal loyalties. And I had to explain that most of Egypt's population lives in cities and has no tribal loyalties. We're not talking about nomadic desert dwellers. And I explained to him how my cousins, men with graduate degrees in engineering from prestigious universities who worked for elite foreign companies like Alcatel, had to leave Egypt because they couldn't afford to rent an apartment. And that maybe economic problems like that were more important in understanding what was going on than tribal loyalties that didn't exist.

By the way, here's a lovely post by DPG comparing, well, let's quote:

Their Kampf
Hitler’s book in Arab hands.

By David Pryce-Jones, from the July 29, 2002, issue of National Review

Adolf Hitler's autobiography Mein Kampf is as vile as any book ever published. Written in 1923 while he was in prison as a revolutionary agitator and at that point unlikely ever to be anything else, Hitler built on [...] Hitler's fate, and the mass-murder he inspired, did not put an end to the malignant appeal of his book. There are plenty of people who know themselves to be failures and blame everyone for it except themselves. They too fantasize that they have enemies who can never be anything else because they belong to another race, and the only solution is to massacre the lot. Almost 80 years after its first appearance, Mein Kampf remains an international hit. [...] Communism was perhaps [VERY BAD, agree] [...] Muslim and Arab society is today a failure much as Communism used to be. Muslims and Arabs live under absolute and despotic government which prevents them from enjoying anything like the freedom and prosperity that they see in the West and wish for themselves. On the whole they realize that they have long ago taken their history and destiny into their own hands, and so are responsible for themselves. But so dire are the injustices and the poverty, and so threatening is the tyranny over their heads, that many are lost in pity for themselves, and hatred of everyone else. A slew of racists, radicals, and Islamists share a frame of mind that the West is selfishly conspiring against them, with the Jews once again secretly in charge. Catering to such people since the early '60s, editions of Mein Kampf have been put out in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, and it is reported to be a bestseller in the Palestinian Authority area. It is available in London stores selling Arabic books. As its Arabic translator Luis al-Haj expresses it in his preface, "National Socialism did not die with the death of its herald. Rather, its seeds multiplied under each star."

In traditional society in the Middle East, Arabs were the masters and Jews were second-class subjects, protected though under rather demeaning conditions. European-style anti-Semitism, usually spread by missionaries and diplomats, came in during the 19th century. Zionism, another import from Europe, redefined Jews according to nationality rather than religion, and the accompanying improvement in their lowly status abruptly challenged Arab assumptions of superiority. These second-class people could surely never have done it on their own; they could only be obtaining their new power from outside — it had to be a plot. Hitler says so too in his book. He believed Zionism was "nothing but a comedy," and he could see through "this sly trick of the Jews." He wrote in Mein Kampf

Yadda yadda. So, um, Godwin.

LJ:

This doesn't reveal racist motives as such, but it does suggest that he is a blowhard who doesn't really think things through.
I think mostly Pryce Jones is:
[...] (b. 15 February 1936 Vienna, Austria)[1] is a conservative British author and commentator.
Mostly what he is is 79.

And somehow thinks that he has more info than Obama, the state department, our 14 intel agencies, all our allies, the executive branch of the U.S. government, and everyone else, so that:

[...] haste to jump to conclusions that don’t correspond to the situation is partly the fault of the Euro-centric perspectives that the media pump up, and partly stems from ignorance about the invisible springs of action in the authoritarian Arab state.
Check. It's their ignorance, not some 79 year old guy who:
[...] Pryce-Jones currently works as senior editor at National Review magazine. He also contributes to The New Criterion and Commentary, and for Benador Associates. Pryce-Jones often writes about the contemporary events and the history of the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and intelligence matters.

In his 1989 book The Closed Circle, Pryce-Jones examined what he considered to be the reasons for the backward state of the Arab world[2] A review described the book as more of an "indictment" then an examination of the Arab world[2] In Pryce-Jones's opinion, the root cause of Arab backwardness is tribal nature of Arab political life, which reduces all politics to war of rival families struggling mercilessly for power[2]

But I'm sure he's following all the latest INR intel, reading Twitter, checking Youtube, and is vastly better informed than Obama, or anyone who doesn't have to spend time on other matters.

Sure, that seems plausible.

By the way, Turb, when you wrote:

I recommend that people avoid reading racist tripe.

Posted by: Turbulence | February 06, 2011 at 12:16 AM

I hadn't read it yet, when I posted my comment at February 06, 2011 at 12:39 AM.

But according to Pryce Jones, well, let's just say that I believe that Jews and Arabs, Jews and Muslims, etc., have plenty of commonalities to be found and there's plenty of history showing that people with such cultural backgrounds can reach agreements, and work together, and there's plenty of that that in the distant past, recent past, currently, and today.

And thus I refute DPJ and stick my tongue out at him, neener neener.

And let him come comment here to argue with us. That'd be fun.

Also, Turb, what you said at February 06, 2011 at 03:58 PM.

GoodOleBoy:

I don't think Pryce-Jones is a blowhard or a racist.

Posted by: GoodOleBoy | February 06, 2011 at 11:19 AM

And I take it you've read his books, and are sufficiently informed on the contemporary Arab world to speak to this because?

Certainly you're entitled to think what ever you want, and I totally believe that that's what you think. Could you now give us some cites as to what you've read that is the basis of your information that leads you to what you've thought?

Which news sources are you following? What of DPJ have you read? Which books? Which columns? Which responses to those books and columns? What are your other sources of info on relevant matters?

Do you have any questions you'd like to ask about my own cites and sources and statements? Please ask away.

Most importantly: please cite who here called DPJ "a racist"? Which individual, which comment? If no one here, who are you responding to? If no one here, why are you responding to some claim no one here made? If someone here made it, who, when?

If someone here didn't make such a claim, perhaps it would be useful to not bother refuting imaginary claims.

I could also declare that I don't think that elephants are kangaroos, but what would be the relevance? Because someone somewhere on the planet said so, and that thought wandered into my head when I think of elephants?

But this I quite agree with:

I think no one knows what is going to happen, but the sentiment in the West for Mubarak to go and the hope for a less repressive and more representative regime is apparent. Pryce-Jones, IMO, is taking a realistic view suggesting that what can be seen by the public can be deceiving, when viewed through a Western prism, and Mubarak still has some moves to make. This may merely be the difference between hopes and facts.
And whether someone is a "blowhard" or "a racist" is very subjective, and fraught with definitional problems. I tend to avoid using labels like the first, if I can, and I tend to avoid calling people "racists" unless their tendencies in that direction are so strong as to be almost indisputable.

I prefer to label specific statemetents and acts.

Thus I went so far above as to say this, but no more:

[...] Otherwise this leans towards stereotyping to the point of being at least borderline racist. Kind of like making generalizations about How Black People Think, or What Jewish Culture Is Like.

Useful up to an extremely limited degree, but more akin to holding a hand grenade out as a means of shaking hands.

I'll stand by that. Which you'll note, did not say the man was "racist."

What I wrote was about a specific book he wrote, his words and I said of that book that:

Mostly, though, I'd say that the insights there are sufficiently dated as to not be very useful when discussing people who use Twitter and proxies. How much into shame/honor are people that exposed to the internet? Is there a metric, or study, in the last three or so years you could point us to? That would be useful.
I'm missing where I called David Pryce-Jones a racist.

Earlier, at 9:49 a.m. yesterday, you wrote that:

[...] I've been working intently to understand why the 'racist' label is consistently invoked by some against those who have advanced some contrary opinion to explain certain cultural results.[....]
I'd venture the suggestion that that's not what's going on, and that's the cause of your misunderstanding. But your language there is vague enough that it's entirely unclear who these "some" are. How about we stick to naming the individuals you have in mind?

Wouldn't that be more useful? Who are "some"? Cites and links to the statements you have in mind?

And perhaps you could be clear as to when you're responding to something someone said in the current thread, and then cite and quote, and be clear as to when you're responding to something else someone else on planet earth said sometime, somewhere, by, again, linking, or giving the cite as to what book, page, whatever the heck you'd like to do to be specific.

Wouldn't that be more useful? Or if not, why not?

Thanks in advance.

By the way, about Egypt?

I really, totally, don't know what is going to happen.

I absolutely don't. I thought I made that very very clear in my post, but, then, it was a bit of a long post, but, as well, I find it difficult to include what I consider enough vital information without going to what some consider long.

Standards vary according to how much is vital, how much is too much, and I tend to be, alas, prejudiced by my own reading speed, absorption rate, and range of sources, and I recognize that boiling down is not my strength. That was one of Hilzoy's fantastic strengths: the ability to summarize in her own words the essence of things, whereas I find it much easier to quote others, for a variety of reasons, including the above, and also because due to various personal circumstances, I feel the need, the need for speed.

Just call me a maverick.

Sanity Inspector:

''I recommend David Pryce-Jones' "The Closed Circle: An Interpretation of the Arabs", for backstory on why this has been so.'

Turbulence:

'I recommend that people avoid reading racist tripe.'

GoodOleBoy:

I've been working intently to understand why the 'racist' label is consistently invoked by some against those who have advanced some contrary opinion to explain certain cultural results.'

To Gary:

This is what you must see juxtaposed to know why I used the word 'racist' as a modifier for label, but not saying anyone called anyone else a racist. This is not the first time I have noted that works are sometimes labelled 'racist' by others for expressing views that behaviors result in outcomes within cultures. Then, I went on to say later that I did not think DPJ was a racist or a blowhard. Since I start out accepting people for what they purport to be until I gain evidence that persuades me otherwise, that will be my opinion until I have enough information to change it. I'm not a follower of DPJ. Since one commenter thought his work worth referencing and said why and a responder thought no one should even read 'racist tripe' of the sort, I asked why the work should be thought racist.

So GoodOleBoy, have I answered your question to your satisfaction?

I'm still curious why you think that Pryce-Jones has "education and experience behind his views" since I can't find any.

GOB, not trying to ambush you or anything, but what sort of information would you need to discount DPJ? I haven't read him, but I don't think you have either, but I gave you a precis of the thesis of the recommended book, and it seems he's not really someone to be taken seriously.

And while I wouldn't have used the R-word, I do remember that Turb is Egyptian, so I am certainly going to give him a little leeway, just as I would give you if you raged about someone drew conclusions about you based on the construct of a Southern culture of honor. That's fair, isn't it?

Most Iraqis are Arabs. Did this gentleman have any opinions about the liklihood of a democracy arising from our invasion of Iraq?

lj,

Got to it before I could, but I remember Southern Cultutre being described as anti-modern and reactionary, because it is a "shame and honor culture".

The South had never fully evolved away from its antebellum mindset, because of its emphasis on "shame and honor."

Lynching was excused, by many Northerners, as part of this dynamic. Although it does not explain the popularity of lynching in Ohio.

'And while I wouldn't have used the R-word, I do remember that Turb is Egyptian, so I am certainly going to give him a little leeway, just as I would give you if you raged about someone drew conclusions about you based on the construct of a Southern culture of honor. That's fair, isn't it?'

First, I would reject being classified into any group except humankind although this mindset might have been more elusive had I lived in Georgia a century earlier than I did. My second great-grandfather apparently jumped quickly in summer of 1861 into a conflict I'm sure he knew little about, leaving two young daughters and his wife expecting my great-grandfather, never to return. I'm more inclined to think of my southern Scot-Irish heritage as a culture of ignorance rather than a culture of honor.

But, frankly, I tend to react to the use of the racist label because I saw it used so frequently and inappropriately throughout my youth, not that there were not many actual cases of racism, almost always, IMHO, resulting from that same culture of ignorance. Had Turbulence said 'don't bother to read such ignorant tripe', I would not have commented.

Lynching was excused, by many Northerners, as part of this dynamic. Although it does not explain the popularity of lynching in Ohio.

My old pappy, Ohio native and lifelong resident, used to say that "Ohio is the most southern state in the north."

But that only pushes the explanatory moment back a step. Why is Ohio that way? I don't know.

GOB, I think I've made a good faith effort to explain why I called the book racist tripe. And you haven't addressed anything I've written at all. Do you think I was right? Wrong? Was my usage unjustified? Do you have any answers to the questions I asked you?

I mean, it seems like you're having some sort of weird non-conversation with me. You ask questions and raise issues about my comment and when I try to address them I get...silence...while you then address side issues with other people.

Why is Ohio that way? I don't know.

It isn't just Ohio; southern Indiana and Illinois were (and are) pretty similar. I suspect it's a mistake to think of the Ohio River as a boundary between two socio-cultural areas, rather than the middle of one.

'GOB, I think I've made a good faith effort to explain why I called the book racist tripe. And you haven't addressed anything I've written at all. Do you think I was right? Wrong? Was my usage unjustified? Do you have any answers to the questions I asked you?

I mean, it seems like you're having some sort of weird non-conversation with me. You ask questions and raise issues about my comment and when I try to address them I get...silence...while you then address side issues with other people.'

I apologize for the any impression that your response was being ignored and I agree that you have explained why you characterize DPJ's products as 'racial tripe'. I yet think that your explanation suggest ignorance more than racism, or perhaps your impressions of racism extend to a greater range of thought and behavior than mine, i.e. a difference of opinion, not of right or wrong.

On the matter of credentials, in response to your specific question, DPJ obviously has substantial published materials addressing Arab and Middle Eastern society and politics and has had many years to become educated on such matters. This does not necessarily overcome a state of ignorance. I cannot rank his credentials just as I cannot rank those of our government officials charged with making decisions regarding America's relations with Egypt. Here I suffer from ignorance. I'm certain there are many respectable Americans who do not consider DPJ a hack or the National Review a publication with low standards.

I apologize for the any impression that your response was being ignored and I agree that you have explained why you characterize DPJ's products as 'racial tripe'. I yet think that your explanation suggest ignorance more than racism, or perhaps your impressions of racism extend to a greater range of thought and behavior than mine, i.e. a difference of opinion, not of right or wrong.

Thanks for responding.

Well, we agree that Pryce-Jones is ignorant. My point though is that ignorant people who are not racist don't generally look at a complex phenomena about which they know little and say to themselves 'aha! the problem obviously must be the Arabs and their inferior culture' -- in other words, it is the willingness to assume, starting from a position of ignorance, that problems are rooted in cultural defects associated with one race of people that suggests racism.

If Pryce-Jones had spent 30 years working in Arab countries doing anthropological field work and came to the same conclusion, I wouldn't think that he was a racist. I'd probably think his work was wrong, but not racist tripe.

On the matter of credentials, in response to your specific question, DPJ obviously has substantial published materials addressing Arab and Middle Eastern society and politics

Er, no, he doesn't. As far as I can tell, he's never published in a peer reviewed journal. He has no formal training in sociology or anthropology or economics or political science or the middle east in general.

Look, getting a bunch of books published does not mean that you are an expert. Lots of people get books full of completely wrong stuff published every year. Publishers are in the business of making money, not verifying the correctness of the books they print.

and has had many years to become educated on such matters.

This is a joke, right? I mean, by this standard, all old people must be considered experts in everything: after all, old people have had a long time to learn everything, right? I don't assume that people are experts just because they're old. I require a bit more evidence than that. And really, so should you.

I'm certain there are many respectable Americans who do not consider DPJ a hack or the National Review a publication with low standards.

There are many respectable Americans that believe in astrology or that the moon landing was a hoax. Popularity isn't a sound basis for determining the truth.

For Pryce-Jones, is it all Arabs? Whether he be Jew, Christian, Muslim, Communist or Atheist? Or is it only the Islamic kind of Arab?

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Whatnot


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