Edward Said on the ‘Clash of Civilizations’

It was great to see this letter in the New York Times from Edward Said’s widow (3/11/11):

To the Editor:

I smiled when I read “Huntington’s Clash Revisited,” by David Brooks (column, March 4).

Eighteen years after Samuel Huntington wrote his Foreign Affairs essay “The Clash of Civilizations,” Mr. Brooks has arrived at a conclusion that so many Arabs and Arab-Americans arrived at very soon after its publication.

Mr. Huntington’s essay and subsequent book, in which he asserted that the peoples of the Islamic world were incapable of developing societies rooted in freedom and democracy, which he perceived to be essentially “Western values,” sparked an extensive debate in the Arab world and among Arab communities worldwide. The Arab media covered it extensively, and what they said and wrote was totally ignored or dismissed by their Western counterparts.

My late husband, Edward W. Said, was among the prominent voices in strong opposition to Mr. Huntington’s thesis. He wrote and published in English for the Western world. Very few listened to him. It took revolutions to finally hear our voices.

Mariam C. Said
New York, March 4, 2011

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.