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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

April 14, 2003

Columbia Prof Plumbs the Shiite Mind.

Here Martin Kramer exposes another faculty twit at Colubia University. What has happened to that once-great school?
A lot is being written these days about Iraq's Shiites, and the media avidly pursue anyone who seems like an expert. When demand exceeds supply, expect tendentious analysis.

Consider, for example, Professor Hamid Dabashi, head of the department of Middle Eastern and Asian Languages and Cultures (MEALAC) at Columbia. The other day, a correspondent from the Boston Globe asked him about the mood among the Shiites. "The Shi'ites are horrified," announced Dabashi.
Not only are their fellow Shiites and, in fact, their fellow Muslims maimed and murdered right in front of their eyes by the Americans, but the most sacrosanct sites in their collective faith are now invaded by foreign armies. The next time the British and Americans ask themselves, "Why do they hate us?," they better remember the horrid scenes of their armies trampling on the sacred sites.
What in the world is Dabashi talking about? Coalition forces have been absolutely scrupulous about avoiding the sacred Shiite shrines in Najaf, Karbala, Kazimayn, and elsewhere. There have been no "horrid scenes" of coalition forces "trampling" on these sites. As for "murder," the really horrid scene so far has been the brutal murder of two Shiite clerics--by their "fellow Shiites"--inside the shrine-tomb of the Imam Ali in Najaf. "They cut his body to pieces!" another Shiite leader said about one of the victims. "To pieces!" And if the Shiites are so "horrified" by this war, why did so many of them turn out in Najaf to greet the 101st Airborne as liberators? And how is it that even Robert Fisk reports that, "for the moment," the massive Shiite slum in Baghdad "smiles at the West"? [more]