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Columbia University Professor excuses suicide bombers
A Letter to Columbia's Dean of Affairs from Professor Edward Alexander
27 August 2002
Dear Professor Yatrakis,
I write, as a "concerned" alumnus, to call to your attention--in case you've not already seen them--remarks made by Professor G.C. Spivak in Leeds in June. Their appalling evil, their poverty of mind, their doubtful literacy ("killees"?) make one wonder whether anyone of authority at Columbia has considered the appropriateness of continuing her employment there. When one thinks that this woman is employed in a department that once included such people as John Erskine, Mark Van Doren, Lionel Trilling, and F. W. Dupee, it makes the heart sink.
Edward Alexander Columbia College, '57
On June 22, Columbia University professor and postmodern theorist Gayatri Spivak gave the keynote address at a conference at the University of Leeds entitled "Translating Class, Altering Hospitality." The conference as a whole was an academic playground for resentful Marxists, anti-globalization fanatics, and assorted deconstructionists, convinced of the fundamental evil of the West and putting forth various theories that might lead to its swiftest destruction. I merely offer a few excerpts from Spivak's keynote speech, on the subject of what she calls "suicidal resistance," to show what currently passes for wisdom in academic circles:
Suicide bombing--and the planes of 9/11 were living bombs--is a purposive self-annihilation, a confrontation between oneself and oneself, the extreme end of autoeroticism, killing onself as other, in the process killing others. It is when one sees oneself as an object capable of destruction in a world of objects, so that the destruction of others is indistinguishable from the destruction of self.
Suicidal resistance is a message inscribed on the body when no other means will get through. It is both execution and mourning, for both self and other. For you die with me for the same cause, no matter which side you are on. Because no matter who you are, there are no designated killees in suicide bombing. No matter what side you are on, because I cannot talk to you, you won't respond to me, with the implication that there is no dishonor in such shared and innocent death.
So, according to Spivak, suicide bombers don't really intend to kill those they perceive as enemies. The Palestinians who massacre Israeli civilians and the Al Qaeda bombers of 9/11 are really just ontologically confused. Their beef isn't with the infidels they wish to slaughter--they're only killing themselves. (Makes you wonder why they need to leave the house.) Like Cherie Blair, Spivak parrots the ludicrous notion that suicide bombers have no other means of communication. Moreover, she says that "there are no designated killees in suicide bombing," although the Palestinians who detonate their nail-packed explosives in ice-cream parlours, pizzerias, and discotheques have clearly designated innocent Israeli children, teenagers, and families as their intended victims. But why should reality get in the way of another pretentious, postmodern rhapsody? Just a couple more excerpts:
It is the history of this failure of cultural instruction [Spivak's phrase for the indoctrination of suicide bombers] that we must question, not the instruction itself. For that history, leading now to apartheid and unspeakable violence in the occupied Palestinian homeland, can be so narrativized as to persuade the young to die.
In other words, the instruction to people to blow themselves up and kill innocents must not be questioned; the real problem is the history of Israeli "apartheid." Finally:
It [suicide bombing] is a response of sorts to the state terrorism practiced outside of its own ambit by the United States, and in the Palestinian case additionally to an absolute failure of hospitality.
The conference website is http://www.leeds.ac.uk/cath/congress/2002/