• $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • other
  • use Paypal

CALLING ALL COUNTERPUNCHERS! CounterPunch’s website is one of the last common spaces on the Internet. We are supported almost entirely by the subscribers to the print edition of our magazine and by one-out-of-every-1000 readers of the site. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners to the “new” Cuba. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads or click bait. Unlike many other indy media sites, we don’t shake you down for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it. So over the next few weeks we are requesting your financial support. Keep CounterPunch free, fierce and independent by donating today by credit card through our secure online server, via PayPal or by calling 1(800) 840-3683.


Edward Said’s Well-Reasoned Voice


I just learned that Edward W. Said has died. Before reading how the corporate media will frame his obituary, I’ll say this: The world is far more empty place today.

Almost a decade ago, I reviewed "The Pen and the Sword," a collection of Said interviews with David Barsamian, published by Common Courage Press. While some of the references are dated, the message remains as I would state it today. Below is that review…a meager attempt at saying thank you for the work and spirit of Edward W. Said, a true inspiration:

Thanks to popular culture, most Americans are taught to perceive Arabs as fanatical, yet inept, terrorists. Palestinians, so the conventional thinking goes, may not be the most fanatical but are certainly the most inept of the Arabs. Another equally voiceless group in this country is that of political dissidents. In a society where H. Ross Perot is accepted as an renegade outsider, true dissent is rarely discussed.

So, what can be said of Edward W. Said, a genuine political dissident who happens to have been born in Jerusalem when it was still in Palestine? An intellectual who suffered the pain of being uprooted from his home and forced to leave his homeland. Where is his voice heard? Upon first glance, Said’s status as University Professor in the Humanities at Columbia and his authorship of such books as Orientalism and Culture and Imperialism may disguise the depth of his marginalization. It is only after reading this collection of interviews by Alternative Radio founder, David Barsamian that one realizes how much of Said’s vision has been obscured. His contributions to a greater debate on culture’s role in advancing imperialism have been documented (albeit, not widely enough). Sure, Culture and Imperialism does point the accusing finger of blame at long-ignored targets like Albert Camus and Jane Austen, but it is when Said aims his considerable intellect at issues like Israel’s role in the chaos of the Middle East and the tacit complicity of the American press-and taxpayer-in that role that he provokes the most thought and emotion. Hence, what David Barsamian brings out through his insightful questioning in The Pen and The Sword is a glimpse of the heart behind the mind. With almost daily praise heaped upon Israel (and even Arafat) for "ending" the violence, it is practically cathartic to have Barsamian ask the difficult questions and hear Edward Said speak to the facts. Despite death threats from both sides of the battle, despite recently being diagnosed with leukemia, despite confronting a media that offers less criticism of Israel than the Israel’s own newspapers, Said speaks the unspeakable with impunity. When discussing the well-hyped treaty-signing ceremony, Said sees it in these terms:

"The actual ceremony itself, if one watched it, and I did, I had been invited but refused to attend because for me it wasn’t an occasion of celebration but an occasion for mourning, it was, I thought, quite tawdry. In the first place, there was Clinton, like a Roman emperor bringing two vassal kings to his imperial court and making them shake hands in front of him. Then there was the fashion show parade of star personalities brought in. Then, and most distressing of all, were the speeches, in which Israeli Prime Minister Rabin gave the Palestinian speech, full of the anguish, Hamlet’s anxiety and uncertainty, the loss, the sacrifice and so on. In the end I felt sorry for Israel. Arafat’s speech was in fact written by businessmen and was a businessman’s speech, with all the flair of a rental agreement. It was really quite awful. And since he didn’t even mention anything about the sacrifices of the Palestinian people, didn’t even mention the Palestinian people in any serious way, I thought therefore that the occasion was an extremely sad one. And it seemed to me therefore that his speech, the occasion, the ceremony, and so on, seemed to be completely in keeping with the contents of the agreement, which themselves also make the Palestinians subordinate dependents of the Israelis, who will in fact continue to control the West Bank and Gaza for the foreseeable future."

For me, it is equally sad to contemplate a society without the well-reasoned voice of Edward W. Said. Barsamian asks him of his future and Said’s response resonates of controlled emotion:

"I try not to think about the future too much. One has to keep going. But in general, I feel much better about myself and my situation and my health. They’re synonymous with each other. I think the big battle is to try not to make it the center of your every waking moment; put it aside and press on with the tasks at hand. I’ve got a lot to say and write, I feel, and I just want to get on doing that."

Anyone interested in fostering a more equitable social structure owes it to Edward W. Said-and themselves-to not allow his courageous efforts to be in vain. Even those who may disagree with his dissertations can benefit from The Pen and The Sword. It is a book of rare quality and importance.

MICKEY Z. can be reached at mzx2@earthlink.net.

October 12, 2015
Ralph Nader
Imperial Failure: Lessons From Afghanistan and Iraq
Ishmael Reed
Want a Renewal? Rid Your City of Blacks
Thomas S. Harrington
US Caught Faking It in Syria
Victor Grossman
Scenes From a Wonderful Parade Against the TPP
Luciana Bohne
Where Are You When We Need You, Jean-Paul Sartre?
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
The US Way of War: From Columbus to Kunduz
Paul Craig Roberts
A Decisive Shift in the Balance of Power
Justus Links
Turkey’s Tiananmen in Context
Ray McGovern
Faux Neutrality: How CNN Shapes Political Debate
William Manson
Things R Us: How Venture Capitalists Feed the Fetishism of Technology
Norman Pollack
The “Apologies”: A Note On Usage
Steve Horn
Cops Called on Reporter Who Asked About Climate at Oil & Gas Convention
Javan Briggs
The Browning of California: the Water is Ours!
Dave Randle
The BBC and the Licence Fee
Andrew Stewart
Elvis Has Left the Building: a Reply to Slavoj Žižek
Nicolás Cabrera
Resisting Columbus: the Movement to Change October 12th Holiday is Rooted in History
Weekend Edition
October 9-11, 2015
David Price – Roberto J. González
The Use and Abuse of Culture (and Children): The Human Terrain System’s Rationalization of Pedophilia in Afghanistan
Mike Whitney
Putin’s “Endgame” in Syria
Jason Hribal
The Tilikum Effect and the Downfall of SeaWorld
Gary Leupp
The Six Most Disastrous Interventions of the 21st Century
Andrew Levine
In Syria, Obama is Playing a Losing Game
Louis Proyect
The End of Academic Freedom in America: the Case of Steven Salaita
Rob Urie
Democrats, Neoliberalism and the TPP
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
The Bully Recalibrates: U.S. Signals Policy Shift in Syria
Brian Cloughley
Hospital Slaughter and the US/NATO Propaganda Machine
Paul Street
Hope in Abandonment: Cuba, Detroit, and Earth-Scientific Socialism
John Walsh
For Vietnam: Artemisinin From China, Agent Orange From America
Hadi Kobaysi
How The US Uses (Takfiri) Extremists
John Wight
No Moral High Ground for the West on Syria
Robert Fantina
Canadian Universities vs. Israeli Apartheid
Conn Hallinan
Portugal: Europe’s Left Batting 1000
John Feffer
Mouths Wide Shut: Obama’s War on Whistleblowers
Paul Craig Roberts
The Impulsiveness of US Power
Ron Jacobs
The Murderer as American Hero
Alex Nunns
“A Movement Looking for a Home”: the Meaning of Jeremy Corbyn
Andre Vltchek
Stop Millions of Western Immigrants!
Philippe Marlière
Class Struggle at Air France
Halima Hatimy
#BlackLivesMatter: Black Liberation or Black Liberal Distraction?
Binoy Kampmark
Waiting in Vain for Moderation: Syria, Russia and Washington’s Problem
Paul Edwards
Empire of Disaster
Xanthe Hall
Nuclear Madness: NATO’s WMD ‘Sharing’ Must End
Margaret Knapke
These Salvadoran Women Went to Prison for Suffering Miscarriages
Uri Avnery
Abbas: the Leader Without Glory
Michael Brenner
Kissinger Revisited
Cesar Chelala
The Perverse Rise of Killer Robots