Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: America, the Cold War, and the Roots of Terrorism [Secure Mobipocket/Microsoft Reader/eReader (recommended)]
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by Mahmood Mamdani
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Description: In this brilliant look at the rise of political Islam, the distinguished political scientist and anthropologist Mahmood Mamdani brings his expertise and insight to bear on a question many Americans have been asking since 9/11: how did this happen? Mamdani dispels the idea of "good" (secular, westernized) and "bad" (premodern, fanatical) Muslims, pointing out that these judgments refer to political rather than cultural or religious identities. The presumption that there are "good" Muslims readily available to be split off from "bad" Muslims masks a failure to make a political analysis of our times. This book argues that political Islam emerged as the result of a modern encounter with Western power, and that the terrorist movement at the center of Islamist politics is an even more recent phenomenon, one that followed America's embrace of proxy war after its defeat in Vietnam. Mamdani writes with great insight about the Reagan years, showing America's embrace of the highly ideological politics of "good" against "evil." Identifying militant nationalist governments as Soviet proxies in countries such as Nicaragua and Afghanistan, the Reagan administration readily backed terrorist movements, hailing them as the "moral equivalents" of America's Founding Fathers. The era of proxy wars has come to an end with the invasion of Iraq. And there, as in Vietnam, America will need to recognize that it is not fighting terrorism but nationalism, a battle that cannot be won by occupation. Good Muslim, Bad Muslim is a provocative and important book that will profoundly change our understanding both of Islamist politics and the way America is perceived in the world today.
eBook Publisher: Random House, Inc./Three Leaves,
MemoWare PDA Bookstore Release Date: June 2005
6 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats [Secure Mobipocket/Microsoft Reader/eReader (recommended) - What's this?]: OEBFF Format (IMP) [512 KB]
All formats: Printing DISABLED, Read-aloud DISABLED
GEOGRAPHIC RESTRICTIONS: The publisher of this eBook only allows sale to customers in: US, CA
"Mamdani strips open the lies, stereotypes, and easy generalizations on which U.S. policy toward the Muslim world is founded. Dismaying but essential reading." -- J. M. Coetzee
"This provocative and thoughtful inquiry raises hard and serious questions. It is a valuable contribution to the understanding of some of the most important developments in the contemporary era." -- Noam Chomsky
"Good Muslim, Bad Muslim is a brief, readable plea to Americans to stop listening to the shuck and jive about a ‘clash of civilizations’ and start learning some practical political history." -- The Village Voice
Culture Talk; or, How Not to Talk About Islam and Politics
This moment in history after the Cold War is referred to as the era of globalization and is marked by the ascendancy and rapid politicizing of a single term: culture. During the Cold War, we discussed socioeconomic or political developments, such as poverty and wealth, democracy and dictatorship, as mainly local events. This new understanding of culture is less social than political, tied less to the realities of particular countries than to global political events like the tearing down of the Berlin Wall or 9/11. Unlike the culture studied by anthropologists—face-to-face, intimate, local, and lived—the talk of culture is highly politicized and comes in large geo-packages.
Culture Talk assumes that every culture has a tangible essence that defines it, and it then explains politics as a consequence of that essence. Culture Talk after 9/11, for example, qualified and explained the practice of “terrorism” as “Islamic.” “Islamic terrorism” is thus offered as both description and explanation of the events of 9/11. It is no longer the market, (capitalism) nor the state, (democracy) but culture (modernity) that is said to be the dividing line between those in favor of a peaceful, civic existence and those inclined to terror. It is said that our world is divided between those who are modern and those who are premodern. The moderns make culture and are its masters; the premoderns are said to be but conduits. But if it is true that premodern culture is no more than a rudimentary twitch, then surely premodern peoples may not be held responsible for their actions. This point of view demands that they be restrained, collectively if not individually—if necessary, held captive, even unconditionally—for the good of civilization.
In post–9/11 America, Culture Talk has come to focus on Islam and Muslims who made culture only at the beginning of creation, as some extraordinary, prophetic act. After that, it seems Muslims just conformed to culture. According to some, our culture seems to have no history, no politics, and no debates, so that all Muslims are just plain bad. According to others, there is a history, a politics, even debates, and there are good Muslims and bad Muslims. In both versions, history seems to have petrified into a lifeless custom of an antique people who inhabit antique lands. Or could it be that culture here stands for habit, for some kind of instinctive activity with rules that are inscribed in early founding texts, usually religious, and mummified in early artifacts?
We need to distinguish between two contrasting narratives of Culture Talk. One thinks of premodern peoples as those who are not yet modern, who are either lagging behind or have yet to embark on the road to modernity. The other depicts the premodern as also the antimodern. Whereas the former conception encourages relations based on philanthropy, the latter notion is productive of fear and preemptive police or military action.
The difference is clear if we contrast earlier depictions of Africans with contemporary talk about Muslims. During the Cold War, Africans were stigmatized as the prime example of peoples not capable of modernity. With the end of the Cold War, Islam and the Middle East have displaced Africa as the hard premodern core in a rapidly globalizing world. The difference in the contemporary perception of black Africa and Middle Eastern Islam is this: whereas Africa is seen as incapable of modernity, hard-core Islam is seen as not only...