Thursday, April 27, 2017

Orientalism 2.0

For almost all of human history, western countries have always viewed themselves as better. It usually comes down to race, and especially lately it has come down to race. I believe that we still have an Orientalist mindset and I don't think that it will go away in the next few years. Due to past generations, the continued mindset of a superior west has come into the current time period and is still going strong. The younger generation is beginning to be raised with a more supportive and welcoming mindset, but it is the older generation that is making the decisions with the Oriental mindset. Once the older generation is out of power and the younger generation takes their place, there will definitely be a shift in the overall mindset. There will be a much more open community all around, and people will become much more open and willing to try and understand other cultures. Once we can reach that point, Orientalism will then fade into a thing of the past.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Halloween: an Orientalist's Holiday

In my opinion, it is very clear that Americans are commonly stuck in an Orientalist mindset. Although this is very unfortunate, I think it is painfully clear. Surprisingly, I think that this mindset becomes clear on a holiday that is an American favorite, Halloween.

Image result for child genie costumeOn Halloween, some Americans accidentally display their Orientalist mindsets with their costume choices. In recent years, the cultural appropriation that occurs in Halloween costumes has begun to gain some media attention. Many Americans have began to appropriate cultures other than their own in their offensive Halloween costumes.

For example, a common Halloween costume that shows the Orientalist mindset is the "genie" costume. This shows the Orientalist mindset of many Americans who choose this costume because they are taking an aspect of another culture and turning it into a costume for them to show off on Halloween while knowing nothing of true value about the culture that they are appropriating.

Another example of an offensive and Orientalist costume is the "geisha" costume. Some Americans choose this costume without knowing what a traditional Geisha is or the culture behind them. Similar to the genie costume, this shows the Orientalist mindset because Americans take this aspect of Japanese culture and manipulate it into a costume that demeans the culture and tradition.

Although Halloween is a fun holiday for adults and children alike, Americans need to become more aware that they may be appropriating and manipulating for a costume without being educated on the culture behind their costume.
Image result for geisha costume

Orientalism and the Rhetoric of Donald Trump

In his book, Orientalism, Edward Said evaluates Orientalism, a thought structure deeply entrenched in modern Western society that misrepresents and generalizes the Orient (the 'East'). Owing to significant contact made through trade and colonialism, Said asserts that Orientalist thought reached a height in prevalence around the turn of the 19th century. That said, Orientalism continues to manifest itself in several Western socio-economic and political institutions in the 21st century. Today, Orientalism is most visibly manifested in the rhetoric of Donald Trump.

Traditionally, United States Presidents have been very careful to differentiate between the vast majority of Muslims who practice Islam peacefully and the small minority who do not. Even George W. Bush, champion of two "wars on terror", famously declared that "Islam is a religion of peace." Donald Trump has abandoned this tradition. In his inaugural address, Trump described his plans to escalate the war on ISIS using particularly inflammatory rhetoric. Trump declared that he would "unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth." In describing ISIS as a radical Islamic terror group, Trump effectively legitimized a small group of criminals who practice a perverted form of Islam.

Trump's ignorant rhetoric serves to further American perceptions of the Orient as a place that is backwards, uncivilized, and dangerous.