Skip to comments.Psychoanalysis, Islam, and Joseph Massad
Posted on 03/17/2014 5:26:59 AM PDT by SJackson
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Psychoanalysis, Islam, and Joseph Massad
Posted By Cinnamon Stillwell and Rima Greene On March 17, 2014 @ 12:10 am In Daily Mailer,FrontPage | 3 Comments
What do psychoanalysis, liberalism, and Islam have in common? A recent lecture at Stanford University with the curious title, Psychoanalysis and the Other of Liberalism, purported to answer that question. Delivered by Joseph Massad, an associate professor of modern Arab politics and intellectual history at Columbia University and co-sponsored by Stanfords Abassi Program in Islamic Studies, the talk was attended by approximately a dozen graduate students who sat around a long, rectangular table with several circulated chapters of Massads tentatively titled forthcoming book, Islam In Liberalism, in hand.
Massad began by describing his book, which he explained is not concerned with liberal trends in Islam, but with how Western liberalism constituted itself and, in constituting, created an object called Islam as its Other. Claiming that polarization between the East and West was present at the birth of European liberalism in the eighteenth century, with Islam being unfairly associated with oppression, he blamed liberal thinkers such as Montesquieu and the concept of Oriental despotism, which he equated with Islamic totalitarianism today. That such negative associations have a basis in reality both then and now went unremarked; in Massads scheme, the Enlightenment was about little more than irrational opposition to Islam.
Referencing another forthcoming book, Massad examined the deployment of the word Islam as if its mere usage constitutes a weapon:
The uses of the word have changed. Islam can refer to the Koran, Islamist politics, philosophy and history. Islam denotes all these things. It becomes difficult to understand what is the significance of this term for the person deploying it.
He also contested the Orientalist translations of Islam as meaning subjection and surrender, claiming instead that it means deliverance. Contradicting his previous claim that lumping the three [Abrahamic religions] together is an Orientalist invention, ecumenical invention, equalizing what it unequal at base in power relations, Massad made the Islamic supremacist claim that Islam, also means monotheism. It is the religion of all the prophets who came before. Jews and Christians are Muslims because they believe in one god.
In contrast to Islam, Massad maintained that Protestant Christianity acquired a positive meaning through the Enlightenment because it was seen as a pre-condition of democracy. Islam as a problem for democracy also begins at that time, he added.
Massad renewed his critique of Montesquieu, whom he blamed for creating the impression that women in the Muslim world were oppressed:
Montesquieu was the first to depict Muslim women as somehow living in some sort of slave-like subjection. . . . This carried over to the nineteenth century white womens movement, the later proselytization campaigns of the 1880s and 1890s, [and] the British campaigns going on in Egypt and India. Christianity and womens rights were juxtaposed.
He never denied that such slave-like subjection actually existed, but implied as much with a sarcastic tone to which his audience tittered appreciatively.
Massad did offer statistics for the deplorable condition of Muslim women in the twentieth century, referencing clitorectomies and honor killings, but lost all bearing when he equated the latter with the number of American women murdered each year by their husbands or boyfriends. Such crimes, he complained, are never attributable to American forms of Christianity or culture and are seen as going against American cultural values. Perhaps thats because this is true: unlike honor killings, these murders are not sanctioned by religion, society, or authorities.
Massad, whose controversial 2007 book Desiring Arabs posited that homosexuality in the Muslim world is merely a Western construct, then warned of an attempt to create a discipline of queer Middle East studies, which he described as a projection of the liberal constitution of itself as sexual citizenship. He dismissed international efforts to fight the persecution of both gays and women in the Muslim world as:
Christianity proselytizing to the heathens in order to save them, and if failing that, perhaps at least being able to save the women and the homosexuals, the save and rescue missionary campaigns.
He bemoaned the human rights activism that goes on at the UN and the NGOs because it seems to target religion itself and theology; that somehow the problem is lodged in Islam, something called the culture of Islam. Massads concerns lay not with human rights, but with the alleged creation of the Other, which was in turn a form of pathology requiring psychoanalysis.
Massad concluded by discussing Sigmund Freuds contentious book, Moses and Monotheism, but instead of emphasizing psychoanalysis, he stressed Freuds opposition to political Zionism. Paraphrasing his mentor, the late Columbia University professor Edward Said, he praised Freud for his subversive move . . . against Zionism and Jewish nationalism.
Indeed, Massads overall stress on psychoanalysis was merely a pretext for sophistry. Noting that psychoanalysis is precisely against the notion of a free subject . . . we do not choose; every action is governed by a complex of processes, Massad concluded that freedom to choose is meaningless; a laughable notion that undermines the entire rubric of liberal freedom. In other words, universal standards of freedom do not exist. Its all in your head.
Afterwards, an attendee praised the high intellectual level of the lecture, while a graduate student expressed her desire for a position similar to Massads at Columbia University. If hare-brained, politicized, jargon-spouting, morally vacuous talks such as the one Massad delivered at Stanford are the goal, she may find herself with a job. However, she might also require psychoanalysis.
Berkeley resident Rima Greene co-wrote this article with Cinnamon Stillwell, the West Coast Representative for Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum. Stillwell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A pretext for outright lies as well. The Arabic word "Islam" is, as I'm sure the professor is well aware, the imperative form of the verb "aslama", meaning to submit. I can vividly recall learning this in college Arabic courses I took around 40 years ago. I and my classmates had been guessing, assuming really, that it derived from "As-Salaam" (equivalent to Shalom in Hebrew) or "peace".
And it did not take the European enlightenment and "liberalism" (in the classic sense of the word) to have the word become associated with "oppression" or "the other". That was well covered with every tale of kidnapping and enslavement of European sailors and coast dwellers by the Barbary coast pirates and other depredations by Islamic armies from India to the heart of France.
The "professor" is a bald faced liar.
Thank you, you saved me the time of explaining those canards. Moreover, the philosophers of the Enlightenment were more interested in "freeing themselves" from all organized religion than they were concerned about Islam.
He has a point. In the past bad behaviour was judged on the behaviour. The behaviour became a person in western culture, drinking too much became alcoholics, sodomy became homosexuals.
Once you turn the behaviour into a person, then the behaviour is no longer a sin, it is symptoms of a disease and thus cannot be a sin. Eventually the behaviour is normalized and just an acceptable variation of the human experience.
I can see the Muslims not wanting to participate.
What we see of them and by thier actions to other humans and especially women and children has earned them the labels we give them, period! Our gov and it’s feckless cowards in the media continue to barage us with idea that it is a legitimate religion of peace we can live along side with, no sorry not buying it
Salaam, a noun, is based on similar consonant roots as Shalom. Both Arabic and Hebrew are Semitic languages (along with Aramaic, the common spoken language of Judea during the time of Christ and still spoken in some isolated, mostly Christian, Middle East communities) with many grammatical similarities. The verb origin for the word "islam" is pronounced "Aslama" (aliph, seen, laam, meem), i.e. to surrender or submit. "Islam" is the imperative form. I do not know what the Hebrew equivalent root or word is for "submit" but it would be interesting to find out.
But your guess and what you learned seemingly to the contrary are both true. The root of all the words aslama, islam, salaam, are the consonants slm. Looking at Islamic jurisprudence shows that the concepts of peace and submission are inextricably linked in the Mohammedan mind — there are no negotiated peaces, only cease-fires of at most a decade “the hudna”, the only lasting peace in human affairs which Islam recognizes is the peace between conqueror and conquered, between master and slave, and spiritual peace is had only through submission
Of course this leads to all sorts of physical ....AND MENTAL ... aberrations. For instance, in the UK, the number of tragic birth defects among their Islamic populations are actually threatening to bankrupt the national health service.
As I never tire of pointing out, Osama bin Ladn was one of 75 children begotten by his father off a succession of cousins, and Osama himself fathered over 70 children by various cousins. I, me personally, worked with Saudis who had 50-60 kids. NS.
The government of KSA has conducted extensive campaigns to bring in foreign Muslim women for their twitchy, paranoid, drooling, deaf, kidney-diseased, cross-eyed young fellows. It's a tough deal to make, especially since the fellow is likely already married to a cousin or two and the new bride can't leave the house unchaperoned, drive, or appear without the veil. Try selling that bill'o'goods to an attractive young Turkish, Egyptian, or if you got real dough, blonde Bosnian gal.
The Hebrew root word for “to submit” is well known to husbands everywhere.
It sounds somewhat like “yes, dear”.