Abdul Rahmaan Al-Habib
Criticism is good when it is constructive. Then problem is when criticism decays into harping. All too often, useless criticism becomes an impulsive habit.
Arab writers and columnists have a tendency to affirm populist notions, whether they’re good, bad, factual or false. They write what people want to hear. They write not to educate or challenge the readers’ notions, but rather to affirm the reader’s pre conceived opinions and views. These type of character driven, pandering scribes care only about elevating themselves and winning the sympathy of their fans.
For a writer is there anything easier serving up paragraphs of emotion driven rhetoric? Is there anything easier than repeating platitudes and re hashing clichéd ideas?
If a columnist runs out of ideas, there’s always one ace in the deck, one thing that is bound to get a cheer from the choir. It’s almost too easy. Out of ideas for the day? Simply write an article cursing the united state of America! That’s an easy way to earn a day’s pay.
Never mind entering the difficult path of hard research and analysis of problems shared by both societies. Forget it. It is too easy to toss out of some hackneyed diatribe against America.
Unfortunately, writers who do not fall into the trap of cheap shots and one trick ponies, writers who practice disciplined criticism about topics closer to home, end up being drowned out.
The problem here is a lack of understanding about the process of criticism. Our society is one that lack dialogue and rejects the mere concept of criticism. There is a severe lack of understanding behind criticism as and application. In our society, criticism is synonym for defamation.
As a result, many columnist resort to criticism as a form of attack, against each other against the west against America. It is rare when we find a thoughtful attempt at understanding others and their views that come, just as ours do, from their cultural, political and social backgrounds.
Oddly enough, some of the megalomaniacs with word processors often ask for thoughtful opinions on their work from their colleagues. Yet they do not make any effort to come up with constructive criticism to return the favour.
Indeed, some writers strive to be objective. They attempt to give up self-aggrandizement and do a little critical thinking. But all too often even they end up blaming their subject (i.e., the west, America, other writers) for lacking adequate understanding. They might also confess that the problem with “them” is that “we” haven’t adequately illustrated our goodness.
But then when something tragic happens, such as an act of terrorism against the west that is committed by one of our children, our “critic” end up falling back into the trap of painting complex conspiracy theories that depict us as the victims.
When we, Arabs and Muslims, ask ourselves why we are behind in development, the answer is always satisfactory: because of the west and its agents, of course! And when we ask ourselves why the west is developed and advanced, the answer is always satisfactory: because the west stole the science of our ancestors and they are still plundering us to advance themselves!
Can you find pettier, more populist answers than this?
(The article taken from Arab News, third page, today (05/04/06)
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