Sunday, April 13, 2003

In praise of irrelevance

(Readers will forgive that the following entry covers three separate post boxes. Being a technical idiot, I had no idea how to fit such a long text into a single box. So just read till the words "fundamentally evil" appear--always a fine way to end).

Have just received a copy of Adam Shatz's article on Fouad Ajami for the April 28 issue of The Nation, titled "The Native Informant." A deeply envious article that ultimately boils down to one thing: Ajami serves a political order Shatz cannot stomach.

What does Shatz think of Ajami?

"What Ajami abhors in 'politicized men and women' is conviction itself. A leftist in the 1970s, a Shiite nationalist in the 1980s, an apologist for the Saudis in the 1990s, a critic-turned-lover of Israel, a skeptic-turned-enthusiast of American empire, he has observed no consistent principle in his career other than deference to power."

The accusation, which given the peculiar context Shatz is describing preaches the virtues of immobility, is smug, coming from someone who no doubt situates himself among the "politicized men and women" of conviction. It is also exotic in light of the fact that Shatz spends page after page criticizing Ajami precisely for his convictions. The path from Shiite leftist in the 1970s to Shiite nationalist in the 1980s (by the way, what is a Shiite nationalist?) was far more natural than Shatz suggests in that passage. Ironically, the explanation for that transformation is well documented in the rest of his piece.

No comments:

Blog Archive