By Richa Crockatt
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Additional resources for After 9 11 - Cultural Dimensions of American Global Power
The political complexion of the Bush administration has undoubtedly served to intensify this perception. The American right – and this is arguably the most consistently right-wing administration in post-World War II history – is generally more nakedly patriotic, more nationalist in complexion, more emphatic in its assertion of traditional American values (especially those associated with the founding period) than Democratic administrations. Policy seems to be forged in the American heartland where ‘real’ Americans live rather than among the more sophisticated ‘European’ east coast elites.
Orientalism has special resonance several decades after publication because of the continuing and increasing preoccupation with Islam; indeed it could be said that Said’s thesis has been confirmed in the events following the end of the Cold War to the extent that the West’s relations with Islam have become a central axis not only in international affairs but in domestic affairs in many countries too. Said’s study focuses on literary history and scholarship rather than political events and institutions, but it is perhaps precisely for that reason that his thesis has had such wide application and such an enthusiastic reception in many quarters.
As long as the news about Islam is mainly about terrorist incidents, the deeper will the general suspicion of Islam go and the more vulnerable will individual Muslims be. If such scepticism and anxiety is present among Muslims who are basically sympathetic to America and who deplore al-Qaeda et al. as perverters of the Muslim faith, how much more alienated will be those Muslims who have no natural sympathy with the United States and regard it simply as an agent of imperialism? Similar issues apply pari passu to Europe, which in the postCold War world has gained new perception of the differences between European and American ‘civilizations’.