Edward Said vs. Samuel Huntington

In this classic lecture by the inestimable Edward Said, the anti-orientalist legend rips Samuel Huntington, the go-to fountain of imperialist apologism, to shreds.

For those unfamiliar with him, Huntington was, to put it bluntly, the principal intellectual defender of Western imperialism. From the title of his book The Clash of Civilizations, you can smell the 21st-century, (barely) watered-down colonialist rhetoric.

And, Democrats, don’t forget, this is the guy who,

  • as a consultant to the Department of State during the Vietnam War, encouraged the U.S. government to mass murder Vietnamese rural civilians (read: commit genocide);
  • then wrote the infamous “The Crisis of Democracy,” lamenting that the U.S. had reached a point of “too much” democracy, positing ways to break up and delegitimatize social movements (especially civil rights ones);
  • then served as Coordinator of Security Planning for the National Security Council under President Carter;
  • then, again as a U.S. representative, helped P.W. Botha “defend” the South African apartheid state from “terrorism” (read: quash dissidents);
  • and, last but not least, recently wrote the incredibly racist “The Hispanic Challenge,” calling on policy makers to prevent Latinos from “destroying” American culture. This racist drivel is actually commonly cited in contemporary scholarship, and served as a guideline for the Obama administration.

And this guy is a prominent Democrat, known as a “liberal” political scientist.

Said is the perfect man to expose Huntington for exactly what he is — a tool of empire.

The Q&A session is another fantastic resource, in this case for insight on Palestine. The reply to the last question is incredibly depressing, particularly considering this was in the ’90s. Things were already bad enough then, and this was before the Second Intifada, the construction of the apartheid wall, Operation Hot Winter, the Gaza Massacre, the blockade of Gaza, the Lebanon War, the attack on the Gaza flotilla, Operation Pillar of Defense — the list goes on.