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294

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discourse. Surely, anyone who reads

Orientalism

alongside any of

the Orientalist texts in question would be able to tell the difference.

Young’s argument is almost tantamount to saying that a reader

would not be able to tell the ideological difference between, say, a

novel like Rudyard Kipling’s

Kim

(1901) and E. M. Forster’s

A

Passage to India

(1924), since both are set during the time of the

British Raj and are part of the same vaguely-defined tradition

known as the British novel.

Although Young is quite correct to point out the hypocrisy of

Western humanism as a philosophical tradition, including its links

to slavery and colonialism, many of its basic tenets or principles are

still accepted (and refined) by intellectuals both in and outside the

West. A good illustration of this tension can be found in the work

of Frantz Fanon, one of humanism’s harshest critics, who called for

not its abandonment but rather its fullest or, dare I say, universal

application. In fact, in the closing pages of

The Wretched of the

Earth

, Fanon, arguing for the creation of a “new humanism,”

declares, “Let us endeavor to invent a man in full, something which

Europe has been incapable of achieving” (2004: 236).

The other key point that Young raises concerns Orientalism’s

status as a “real” phenomenon. According to Young, Said fails to

make a proper distinction between a real and fake Orient, which

leads to some confusion over what Orientalism may or may not be.

The problem with Young’s assertion is its binary or Manichean

logic. Such critics overlook the fact that while the Orient may be

imaginary, Orientalism

as a body of knowledge in the service of

empire

has had real consequences on the imperial policies of

Western nations (including Britain, France and the United States)

throughout the Near and Far East. Of course, the same could be

said for other imaginary concepts like “nation” and “race” in terms

of the real and metaphysical violence that have been inflicted on

others in their name.