‘Its Best Use is as a Doorstop’

A kind reader emailed to point out Brian Whitaker’s take on The Arab Mind, which appeared in The Guardian.

Consider these statements: “Why are most Africans, unless forced by dire necessity to earn their livelihood with ‘the sweat of their brow’, so loath to undertake any work that dirties the hands?”
“The all-encompassing preoccupation with sex in the African mind emerges clearly in two manifestations …”
“In the African view of human nature, no person is supposed to be able to maintain incessant, uninterrupted control over himself. Any event that is outside routine everyday occurrence can trigger such a loss of control … Once aroused, African hostility will vent itself indiscriminately on all outsiders.”
These statements, I think you’ll agree, are thoroughly offensive. You would probably imagine them to be the musings of some 19th century colonialist. In fact, they come from a book promoted by its US publisher as “one of the great classics of cultural studies”, and described by Publisher’s Weekly as “admirable”, “full of insight” and with “an impressive spread of scholarship”.
The book is not actually about Africans. Instead, it takes some of the hoariest old prejudices about black people and applies them to Arabs.

Read Whitaker’s article here.