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Azar Nafisi: Enemy of the People

Now this is just too funny: "By seeking to recycle a kaffeeklatsch version of English literature as the ideological foregrounding of American empire," wrote Mr. Dabashi, "Reading Lolita in Tehran is reminiscent of the most pestiferous colonial projects of the … Read More

By / October 10, 2006

Now this is just too funny:

"By seeking to recycle a kaffeeklatsch version of English literature as the ideological foregrounding of American empire," wrote Mr. Dabashi, "Reading Lolita in Tehran is reminiscent of the most pestiferous colonial projects of the British in India, when, for example, in 1835 a colonial officer like Thomas Macaulay decreed: 'We must do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern, a class of persons Indian in blood and color, but English in taste, in opinions, words and intellect.' Azar Nafisi is the personification of that native informer and colonial agent, polishing her services for an American version of the very same project."

And friendships with Paul Wolfowitz and Bernard Lewis, to boot! Dabashi teaches at Columbia, and for some reason, I doubt Edward Said would have hipped to his crude Occidentalist take on a very moving literary memoir. If there is a "politics" to Reading Lolita in Tehran it's this: please don't kill me for opening a book. Bad enough that Nafisi had to go through hell in her homeland before finding an audience, much of which is comprised of pushed-around and beaten-up women; now she's got to listen to the worst liberation theological claptrap, which I doubt a disclaimer on every page ("Even though I am firmly antiwar and anti-Bush…") would have forestalled.

An old Marxist rag once ran a headline: "T.S. Eliot: Enemy of the People," which at least had the merit of getting a reactionary right for his politics, however piddling and pathetic this was as poetry criticism. Dabashi has been chivvied by Jewish student organizations for being anti-Israel, etc. He should be kicked off campus for being anti-intellectual instead.

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