Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Miller blast from the past

For those who missed it or forgot it and for those who think Judy Miller is a journalist here's a link to Ed Said's review of her book:

From a few paragraphs into the review:

...Writing about any other part of the world, Miller would be considered woefully unqualified. She tells us that she has been involved with the Middle East for twenty-five years, yet she has little knowledge of either Arabic or Persian. It would be impossible to be taken seriously as a reporter or expert on Russia, France, Germany or Latin America, perhaps even China or Japan, without knowing the requisite languages, but for "Islam," linguistic knowledge is unnecessary since what one is dealing with is considered to be a psychological deformation, not a "real" culture or religion.

What of her political and historical information? Each of the ten country chapters (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Sudan) begins with an anecdote and moves immediately to a potted history that reflects not much more than the work of a name-dropping college sophomore. Cobbled up out of various, not always reliable authorities (her pages of footnotes are tainted by her ignorance, whether because she can only cite the sources she already knows she wants in English, or because she quotes only authorities whose views correspond to hers, thereby closing out an entire library by Muslims, Arabs and non-Orientalist scholars), these histories are meant principally to display her command of the material, but actually expose her lamentable prejudices and failures of comprehension. ...

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