Orientalism and Western Understanding
"The Orient is not only adjacent to Europe; it is also a place of Europe's greatest and richest and oldest colonies, the source of its civilizations and languages its cultural contestant, and one of its deepest and most recurring images of the Other" (Said, 27).

Orientalism of "The Other"

The concept of Orientalism is birthed from contact zones and transculturation from the earlier periods of Imperialism. Contact zones were the areas in which a superior culture met an inferior culture and exchanges in trade and communication were made. Transculturation is the process by which the subjugated culture chooses to incorporate parts of the superior or “civilized culture” in an effort to adapt and survive the new way of life thrust onto them by their rulers. (Pratt, 6-7) In a post-colonial status of European hegemony by means of force, certain remnants of the imperial mindset have been infused in how today’s western world views and perceives the orient, persons of the Middle East included, with strange, mystical, and mysterious mindset of “The Other”. (Edward Said on Orientalism)

            There are opinions, biases, and views of all types. To polarize people into one camp and say that all westerns view people of the Middle East as biased is completely unfair. To say that all peoples of the Middle East have a biased view of America and the west is also unfair. There are people with all sorts of beliefs and ideologies dispersed throughout the globe, some conservative, some moderate. Regardless, it must be acknowledged that certain perceptions Orientalism to exist and effect political, social, and economic policy towards countries of the Middle east in a harmful way by seeing and treating the Middle East in a different manner than the rest of the world. Understanding Orientalism from a western perspective is essential to understanding a large part of how the world operates. Fixing these misconceptions takes time with the unfamiliar in order to lose the fear and embrace on common unbiased ground.

On the Other Side of the Fence- A Look Into Western Understanding and Recollection of Past U.S. Political, Social and Economic Policy

Evidences of  Western Thought from Excerpts in "Thoughts in the Presence of Fear" by Wendell Berry

The following excerpts show how citizens of western democracies are beginning to question the actions of thier own governments, specifically being America, on the other side of the Middle Eastern fence:

"And surely, in our country, under our Constitution, it is a fundamental error to suppose that any crisis or emergency can justify any form of political oppression. Since September 11, far too many public voices have presumed to "speak for us" in saying that Americans will gladly accept a reduction of freedom in exchange for greater 'security'." (Berry, 681)

"We have, for example, several national military academies, but not one peace academny. We have ignored the teaching and examples of Christ, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and other peacable leaders. And here we have an inescapable duty to notice also that war is profitable, whereas the means of peaceableness, being cheap or free, make no money." (Berry, 681)

"We must not agian allow public emotion or the public media to caricature our enemies. If our enemies are now to be some nations of Islam, then we should undertake to know those enemies. Our schools should begin to teach the histories, culstures, arts, and language of the Islamic nations. And our leaders should have the humility and the wisdom to ask the reasons some of those people have for hating us." (Berry, 681)

It is alot to think about, written by a well spoken man full of wisdom. One can only wait and watch to see how the policies of nations effects the citizens they are responsible to.

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