Ignorant people are usually masters in prolonging and deepening conflicts.
“Clash of Civilizations.” This war-minded theory that a lot of intellectuals refuted long time ago, is finding its way through people’s minds nowadays, and might not be exaggerating if we say it is reaching its apogee today. Consciously or unconsciously, both lead to what Edward Said called “Clash of Ignorance”…
This idea, Clash of Civilizations, which first appeared in Samuel Huntington’s 1993 essay in the journal foreign affairs and then expanded in a book three years later, is mainly based on looking at the coming phase with the attention of a “crisis manager’s” mind. The attention is focused and translated into an endless war of ideas and cultures that will dominate global politics for years ahead, unless the west “weakens its opponents and keep them divided.”
Huntington was an influential political scientist of course, but thinking of a “crisis manager mind not a student of culture,” as the theorist and public intellectual Edward Said describes in his lecture on the “Clash of Civilizations” in 1996 at the University of Massachusetts. Said points to Huntington’s argument about Islam in particular as if the latter says that the Islamic civilization is actually an anti-western civilization, or “Islam has nothing to do other than to think about the west with hatred!”
This very last sentence can serve as a response to thousands of comments and columns that spread the internet and newspapers after the recent Sydney siege. Although the sheer number of Muslims around the world stands firmly against any offensive action under the name of Islam, this did not save them from being an easy prey for commentators.
“Journalism and popular demagoguery are his main sources rather than serious scholarship or theory.” Edward Said uses this term to describe the source of Huntington’s information in his much controversial essay. The same applies for the vast majority of comments and columns that did nothing but prolonging and deepening the conflict, a thing that ignorant people usually master.
The question is; how can this mentality serve the world? Or save it?
A brief look at the world, instead of being led astray and blaming Muslims for every trouble, let’s consider the number of “Muslim” civilian casualties during the US invasion to Iraq, Afghanistan, the US-NATO airstrikes on Libya, the allies’ attacks on Syria and Iraq, Israeli continuous attacks against Palestinians….etc.
It is not a review of casualties, whom each one has his/her own life, family and story, but if we want to go one step forward, the kind of cold-war mentality won’t help anybody. Bottom line, if people see that alienating any group of people from its culture or ignoring and demolishing a whole culture will entail superiority for another, then we’d better extend condolences to the human brain and embrace ignorance as a lifestyle.
Edward Said responded to the idea of “The Clash of Civilizations” with a theory called “The Clash of Ignorance,” criticizing the attempt to present the concepts of civilization and identities as closed, shut-down, and sealed off entities that are unchanging and homogeneous in the global community. “This ignorance is the fundamental cause of conflict.”