Orientalism by Edward Said
Edward Said is an expert in the field of post-colonial studies. He annotates and denotes the word Orientalism as the false cultural exaggerations and assumptions of the western countries. These assumptions, according to Edward Said, facilitate the misinterpretation of what is referred to as the Orient in general and the Islamic nations (Middle East) in particular. The importunate and subtle Eurocentric chauvinism against the Muslims and the Arabs together with their culture is a very contemptuous attitude especially from the western world. The over ambitious Europe and the United States, according to Edward Said, has indiscriminately subjected Arabs and other Muslims to unfair treatment and inhumane attitudes.
In his definition of Orientalism, Edward Said disapproves the Arab elites who are leading most of the Arab countries today, calling the satraps and collaborators of the prejudiced western philosophy. He refers to the western world as the American and British Orientalists. Edward’s agitation is from the fact that Europe and the United States constantly criticizes the East, without basing their criticisms on facts but faulty and preconceived stereotypes and archetypes. The assumption that all Arabs are the same and that they are all extremists with predispositions to terrorism and violence, are some of the faulty conclusions that Edward Said abhors. Edward Said challenges the European and the American thinkers to reverse these assumptions by making allegations that are based on facts and real life situations.
Arabs are Muslims and all Muslims are Arabs
This statement is clearly demonstrated in you tube video showing a British soldier being beaten and later butchered by two men shouting Islamic slogans. There has been a lot of friction between Europe and the Islamic world, where one can safely conclude that the Middle East and Europe are the least of friends that ever existed. The video, as aired by the BBC, shows two men assaulting another man, one of the assaulters suspected to be a Nigerian citizen. The Islamic notion, that as long as a person is a Muslim, such a person has a common enemy as any Arab in the world. On the other hand, all Arabs are expected to treat the western world as their enemy. The Middle East believes that the western world prejudices them and accusing them of extremism that cannot be proven. The assumption that all Muslims are terrorists and/or extremists has created the enmity that would probably last forever.
In the video, a black man suspected to be a Nigerian citizen, butchers a British soldier with the help of another while shouting Islamic slogans. This clearly indicates that the killing had everything to do with hostility and the tension that exists between the west and the east. Considering all westerners as the enemies of the Easterners is an Arabian philosophy, which is demonstrated in this video. The authorities, including the British Prime Minister, Mr. Cameron termed this act as a terrorist attack orchestrated by Islamic extremists.
The brutal beating and killing of the soldier in the video cannot be justifiable whatsoever. The killers showed no remorse at all, and did not even bother to flee the scene. The killing is a contradiction to the accusation the Islamic world directs to the west, claiming America and Europe are insensitive and prejudicial people. Clearly, the video shows that it is the Islamic extremists, who are insensitive and brutal.
Stereotyping the Asylum seekers in Australia
With the increased terrorist attacks by the Islamic terrorists in the recent past, some asylum seekers have found themselves in very disturbing, and uncomfortable circumstances in Australia. It has proven difficult for the media to differentiate between a terrorist, an Arab, a Muslim, a Middle Eastern, and an asylum seeker. These asylum seekers have been subjected to different treatment in the name of the Australian security. The media influences the public opinion. The media is, therefore, the determinant part of how the Australian public would treat these asylum seekers.
It is morally incorrect to generalize that all asylum seekers are terrorists just because they happen to be Muslims or Arabs. In Australia, the media has always portrayed Muslims as people who cannot be trusted and a threat to Australian security. It is unfair to judge these people by quickly concluding they are terrorists. However, the increased terrorist attacks in civilian populated areas by Islamic extremist give the government and the public all the reasons to worry about their own safety.
The Islamic antagonism to the western philosophies has created a two-way antagonistic situation; the western world claim that Islam would never be attuned with the western civilization. The media has emphasized this notion, and the Australian public believes that Islam is a threat to security. It might be extremely difficult to convince such people that a person could practice Islam as a religion and still be a good person. The stereotypes are further emphasized in movies where Islamic characters are portrayed as extremists. The Lebanese immigrants or asylum seekers in Australia, for example, would easily be suspected of being involved in extreme acts. Basing on their ethnic backgrounds and religion, the Lebanese living in countries like Australia or America might never have a chance of being treated equally with other people.
The impacts of 9/11 on Islam and Muslims
The devastating attack of the United State on September 11 2001 was an indication of a completely new beginning of the relationship between the west and the Middle East. The relationship between the west and the Middle East was already in a bad state. The terrorist attack worsened the situation, with more stringent and more restrictive regulation on the minority Islamic communities. The trauma caused by the devastating attack on the American public created a sour relationship between the Americans and the Middle Easterners.
The French woman
Watching this YouTube video reveals a clear incidence of religious and racial prejudice. The woman, being a Muslim, had immigrated to France to join her husband who was born there. She practiced Islam, meaning her dressing and the way of doing things was according to the laws of Islam. Apparently, this woman was not a social person in the sense that she never welcomed anyone in her home despite the fact that she had four children. She was denied citizenship, with the authorities claiming that she did not meet the minimum requirements for assimilation.
Having been married to a French national, and having no criminal record, it was an extreme act of discrimination on the side of the French authorities to deny this woman citizenship. The authorities claim that the woman was involved in radical Islam practices. As long as she did not break the law, she was entitled to fair treatment.
The Changing Meaning of Citizenship
Today, more people view citizenship more as a responsibility rather than a right. This view is according to Harris A., in her book Citizenship and the Self-Made Girl in future girl. Harris explains the original idea of citizenship according to T. Marshall as a right granted to every individual. Social and economic security was guaranteed, along with civil rights and right to worship any denomination. The state protected the citizens in every way. Therefore, each member of the community was considered a member with a place in the same community and has a form of relationship with the state.
However, Marshals theory has been overtaken by current definitions of citizenship. Citizenship is considered to be a social responsibility for an individual. Economic trends have shifted and altered the way people regard citizenship. Marshall estimated that inequalities in terms of welfare will reduce, and all citizens will acquire equal rights. The disparity continued through privatization, deindustrialization and rationalization. All these factors resulted into a state of social rights being reconstructed as personal responsibilities.
This shift is displayed by the change in responsibility from the government promising to protect its citizens, to the citizens taking an active role to secure their own welfare. Citizens no longer expect the government to be able to protect all their rights, both socially and economically. It is, therefore, a responsibility to be a citizen and protect oneself by different means, rather than the government looking after the citizen.
I agree with Harris in this article. There is a shift in the priorities that governments offer citizens, which define their citizenship as outlined above. Social bonds have become loose as more people are consumed in search for economic stability. Markets bear many risks, and there is great uncertainty of the future. All these factors lead to a lesser definition of citizenship as a right.
Social Security for Obedience
Citizens who follow the rules and regulations of the state will get rewards from the government. The rewards include provision of social security services like education, medical care, technology, and improved infrastructure among others. Being a good citizen means not breaking laws. The obedience and cooperation of an individual in the society allows for peace and calm where the state is able to plan and implement strategies that will bring improvement in the community. These improvements serve as a reward.
Failure to follow the set rules by the state would bring conflicts that would in turn cause conflicts. Such conflicts and unrest distrust the development process. A lot of resources are wasted through trying to find an arbitrary means. Time, money and manpower, are utilized in a misplaced way. Therefore, by citizens obeying the set of rules put in place by the government, social and economic security is realized in the long run.
Women in Multicultural Societies
Women are becoming increasingly useful in calming fears of different nations about the intentions of immigrants. Displaying innocent girls and women from a different country is a symbol of no harm. This is true due to a number of factors; one of them being the fact those women are able to adapt fast t the conditions and cultures of different countries. Women assimilate different cultures easily and make them their own.
Recently in countries like Australia, fears that immigrants are bringing bad influences into the country have been thwarted through displaying young innocent women. They depict a picture of innocence and no harm to people.
The media has also played a significant role in displaying women as a means of calming fears and bringing about reconciliation. Media bias that was witnessed is now kept in check by using young attractive immigrant women engaged in sports and activities hat receive significant media attention. In 1961 and 1962, Tania Verstak was selected Miss Australia and Miss International Beauty respectively. Tania is a Russian immigrant who assumed an Australian citizenship. The media focused on the news in depth and several issues came out. Australian people were reassured that immigrants were not a threat, and the stereotyping should stop. It also showed them that immigrants could be assets. They bring with them talent and wealth into the country.
It requires a lot of patience and eventually acceptance from the side of the host dominant population. It takes time to adjust to the idea of allowing immigrants into a country being a good thing. A lot of effort has been displayed in the media by displaying women ambassadors. Tania Verstak influenced Tatiana Grigorieva, a pole vaulter during the 2000 Olympics representing Australia. Grigorieva, like Verstak, is a Russian Australian athlete who represented Australia in the Olympics.
Citizenship as personal Responsibility for economic independence
In order to achieve economic independence, most women take it a personal responsibility to ensure that their citizenship plays a significant role. Women have evolved to become better entrepreneurs and better consumers in the market.
Since the definition of citizenship has changed its meaning from being protected by the government to a social responsibility placed upon an individual, most people have taken it seriously. Women have picked up the initiative to become better citizens by showing that they too can achieve economic independence.
Work considered to be fitting for men only is now universally accessible to women too. Hundreds of thousands of women soldiers are recruited every day. It is deemed a personal responsibility to achieve economic independence, for a person to be a citizen.
Bad Mothers and Good Mothers
Good mothers are hard working and support the agenda of the state. They do so through engaging in activities congruent with the new order. These mothers are considered to be important and responsible people in the society. They are also entitled to state funding and help, which is considered to be legitimate. Good mothers have acquired jobs with the state and contribute in building the economy. During pregnancy and labor, good mothers are entitled to a paid leave, social security funding and any form of support as a reward.
On the other hand, bad mothers display irrational behavior of not supporting the state. They depend on social security funds from an economy they do not offer to contribute. In this case, young mothers, or rather teenage mothers are the bad citizens. They are not qualified to acquire jobs, and they are entirely dependent on others. It is common for most young women to project their concern about work now and worry about motherhood in later times. Women who are not able to find a substantial way to work the economy focus on fulfilling family responsibilities. Thus, young mothers are deemed as bad citizens.