CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS AND CIVILIZATION DIALOGUE

“What bad News!�? What else could we say to the newsagent as we grabbed a copy of the newspapers the morning after the September 11 attacks on America? We expected him to share our feelings of revulsion and horror. We were thus stunned when the newsagent grinned, gave the ‘thumbs-up’ signal and cheerfully declared the attacks to be “ Good news.�? We were equally disgusted when a friend reported that the counter clerk she met in her bank argued that the Americans deserved what they got.

I wrote this article shortly after September 11, 2001. I decided to post this article now, not because of current ongoing interests as another anniversary of the September 11 tragedy draws near. I am alarmed that interfaith dailog has become a taboo subject today. I never imagined a day will come when 10000 people protested against calls for dialogue in our nation (Malaysia) and then another 50000 would have gathered to protest against dialogue on religion and human rights except for the fact that the organizers failed to get approval from the authorities. Continue reading “CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS AND CIVILIZATION DIALOGUE”

Exploring the Role of Orientalism

There is defensiveness among some of the Asian literati who wax eloquent on the need for cultural planning and censorship to defend national culture against Western influences. These literati often justify their anxieties by claiming that Western powers have historically exploited the intellectual discipline called Orientalism to undermine not only the dignity and self-identity of Orientals but also the will to resist their colonial masters.

Exploring the Role of Orientalism
Ng Kam Weng

Book Review: J.J. Clarke, Oriental Enlightenment

Hermann Goering, Hitler’s henchman, once quipped that whenever he hears the word “culture” he reaches for his pistol. The remark is most surprising. After all, culture is synonymous with the high achievements of refined societies. Enrichment, rather than violence, should be associated with culture.

There is defensiveness among some of the Asian literati who wax eloquent on the need for cultural planning and censorship to defend national culture against Western influences. These literati often justify their anxieties by claiming that Western powers have historically exploited the intellectual discipline called Orientalism to undermine not only the dignity and self-identity of Orientals but also the will to resist their colonial masters.

Scholars may be tempted to dismiss such anxieties as paranoia except for the forceful argument mounted by Edward Said in his landmark study, Orientalism. Said’s thesis relies on Michel Foucault’s social epistemology which rejects the possibility of pure knowledge. According to this view, knowledge is a tool to legitimatize power and control. Continue reading “Exploring the Role of Orientalism”