Our failing intellectuals [Archives:2003/654/Opinion]

July 28 2003

This observer has never ceased to be amazed by the ability of our intellectuals to write pages after pages of analysis of our situation, especially in the “off-shore” Arab newspapers published in London, Paris and Mars. Yet all this analysis is really no more than an elaboration of these intellectuals' cheap verbosity, rather than a service to the “Arab Cause”, or an effort to find ways out of the perplexing issues that confront the Arab World. In fact, on the whole, most of the pages and pages of empty print that these great geniuses put out is generic knowledge even among the illiterate of the masses of Arabs from Mauritania to the Gulf States. About the only people who are served by the “extended deep analysis”, as we are led to believe, is projected by these writers is that they are provided an outlet for supposedly showing their intellect or wisdom, which doesn't go beyond the pages their words are printed, not to mention the high undeserved fees they may be getting for their boring dissertations.
Not only do we find the critics, who supposedly assure us that they are the only ones, who have the magic cures to the nation's (i.e., the Arab Nation) ills, are ready to throw in their diatribes against the existing situation, but they are also ready to lash out at all the “other intellectuals”, “religious scholars” and other members of the social elite, they say have failed in delivering to their people the badly needed guidance, that would have gotten us out of our mess. On the other hand, they go on to claim that the “Arabs have failed” (note the wide ranging scope of their culprits – the Arabs), implying that the failure should be shared by everyone with the politicians, intellectuals and scholars, etc. taking 50% of the blame, while the poor powerless Arab masses have to bear the rest.
This kind of simplistic and seemingly know-all analysis only projects a rather naive assessment of not only the situation in the Middle East in all its manifestations, but a rather wash-my-hands off attitude on the part of these critics or “experts” as they are referred to by the papers that probably never go through the process of checking what these self acclaimed masters of political and strategic analysis write. These great overseas overseers of our situation tend to fall in the trap of disclaiming any part in the developments that led to our pitiful situation, while forgetting that they in fact either lived through them, to say the least, or went on to actually contribute directly or indirectly to their evolution. Where were these intellectuals when these “tragic developments” as they like to call them were occurring? Many of them were either in generally comfortable, if not high political positions or in social positions that could have probably influenced events, if these great writers have had the courage to speak their mind when all these developments were being unfolded. But, alas, they were saving all that courage, to come back and tell us, in retrospect from London or Paris, that we should have done this or should have done that.
On the other hand the rather weak generalizations they present in their articles, only indicates that they really have a weak grasp of the situation. One of them went on to claim that the “Intifadha” was a weak strategic move on the part of the Palestinians, because of the negative results of the “suicide bombings” etc. This reflects a weak, if not a deliberate attempt to portray the Intifadha as a long ago planned strategy, rather than the outcome of a long drawn out ugly oppressive and undignified effort by the Zionist state to rid the Holy Land of the indigenous population of Palestine. In fact such dubious assessments by these critics (like Abu Ahmed Mustafa, who bored us with a long needless cliche filled assessment of the mistakes of the intellectuals, politicians, religious scholars, “the Arabs” and even our past heritage) in shaping our present and our future, in Al-Shark Al-Awsat), tend to reflect a serious corruption of the reality we live in. We do not have a crisis of leadership, we have a crisis of genuine sincere assessment of our state of being, and a deplorable sense of disassociation with a long historical cultural past, with all its good or bad. Perhaps these people want us to just move ourselves and begin to create a new nation and start from scratch, which is what they are suggesting. Forget about your religion and “your past glories”. These people tend to forget that the West and the other “developed” cultures never forsake their cultural attachments to the past glories of Western civilization, Eastern Chinese or Japanese honor and achievements, etc. On the religious grounds, all I can say is that Mr. Mustapha and his colleagues should look at the back of the US Dollar and every coin minted by the US Treasury, where it is printed in visible print “IN GOD WE TRUST”, and in capital letters. Need anything more be said to these intellectuals, who wish to stay without any cultural or spiritual bonds?