As well as the cultures of the world are diverse, very often the views they present to their citizens in everyday life and during the studies vary considerably. One can seem knowledgeable and aware of many political, historical, humanity or social issues, but they can become much different from the reality when looking through the prism of different countries’ experiences and looking up to the world history. Interestingly, the similar discrepancies in interpretation can be found both in the remote past and the latest events that may seem too close to be mishandled or misunderstood. Humanism is the universal notion, and no cultural differences should become influential for its interpretation. Unfortunately, it is not so nowadays. The history provides a number of examples how humanism has become selective due to the mixture of factors. Primarily the American humanism has become the issue of Edward Said’s concerns in his writing. Therefore, relying on his work, this research will provide evidences that the American humanism is skillfully shaped by the governmental interests and makes the citizens view mostly the “edited” version of the events instead of the full one depriving the American citizens of getting the deep understanding of their history and contemporary events.
Different notions and truths are put in human minds mostly through the university studies and media sources. However, they far not always provide the reliable information to the target audience. The studies of the history and sociology are important in human life. However, they do not always reflect the reality properly. Edward Said stated that his experience of being involved in the struggle for human rights was important stage in his life even though he has never taught anything but the Western humanities at Columbia. Therefore, the real-life experience can often become more didactic and veracious than the books and lectures. With regard to this, there are good reasons to emphasize that the analysis of the connections between practice and theoretical material always matter.
It is very important to relate what is happening in the world to the material that you are teaching and/ or studying. Thinking critically and analyzing is the first step on the way to realizing the truth. With regard to his experience, it must have been very hard on Said to teach humanities without mentioning one of the greatest disputes and the unjust case of Palestine and the Palestinians. Said is strongly convinced that looking at everything from a Western point of view is one of the major feature of the modern education. Such interpretation of the material is very Eurocentric and limits the student’s knowledge and awareness about the world. This is what the students commonly get from the university - the knowledge, most of which represents solely the Western point of view. Instead, the real image of the events would definitely have to rely on the connections between the practice and theory, Western and Eastern point of view. Only such complex approach can let one realize what is really happening in the country. For example, I have heard international relation students arguing about how they learnt everything about the American and Chinese political system and nothing about the UAE! However, it is widely known that the UAE is a rapidly developing country, and the USA have contributed a lot to its development. It is important to learn about other countries and societies, but at the same time, people should not abandon the knowledge about their own country. Moreover, all American citizens should be able to connect both the Western knowledge and the other perspectives to the events that occur worldwide.
All the world events are tightly interconnected. Therefore, one cannot neglect the world events if it is necessary to understand the situation in one of the countries. At the same time, this idea proves that one cannot neglect some concepts that must be universal, but actually are not. The international situation always created the visible or not so visible forces that have impact on the politics and economics worldwide. Said referred to the world events including NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999, to push the readers to reflection on “humanitarian intervention,” and the issues that are considered as inhuman internationally. When the west wants to military intervene in foreign countries for their personal purposes, they usually come up with names and excuses to invade the country to cover up for their cruel crimes against humanity. The irony is that killing millions of people in the name of “humanity” and covering up for themselves by calling their actions “humanitarian intervention” so that they do not get blamed or accused for killing innocent people and ruining a country. On the contrary, they are the first to make a big fuss and accuse people (especially the Arabs and Muslims) of terror when any small incident occurs and the killer happened to be an Arab or Muslim. For example, there are many killings that occur in the USA every day. Usually, they do not mention the religion of the killer when an incident occurs. However, if the killer was a Muslim or an Arab, they make sure to include that in the news headlines even before mentioning the title of the story. What is more, this is done on purpose to strengthen hate and fear towards the definite nation. An action of an individual does not represent the whole religion or ethnicity. They should stop using these stereotypes and promote it in their news to ruin the image and reputation of Arabs and Muslims. In my opinion, this is pure terrorism against humanity. If one would think of the times that the USA have gone to war against other countries in the past couple of the years and the number of people they have killed it will surely surpass any violence occurred from any Arabic or Muslim country. However, the selective representation of the Muslims can hardly let one understand the truth.
In many cases, the different history and its representation cannot let people realize the entire situation properly. However, the deep understanding must always rely on the comprehensive and integral analysis of the situation. Edward Said finds it ridiculous to focus solely on one part of the world’s history, which in America’s case is the Graeco-Roman past. It crucial to understand all the worlds’ history and not just focus only on one of its parts. As it was already mentioned, being Eurocentric strongly limits the knowledge and the views of a person. Moreover, human history is a continuous process and not just limited to a one specific era. This is what people suffer from today. Most of the university curriculum is Eurocentric and shows the events solely from the Western point of view. We studied the Palestinian case, the Turkish history, and also our own UAE history all from a Western perspective. To be honest, we sometimes as a class felt uncomfortable and offended by the content of the lectures. In most cases, the teacher did not want us to defend our opinions or did not consider it because it was against their “Eurocentric” views. Therefore, the students are not encouraged to realize the truth. Instead, they have to believe in what they are told without the necessity to analyze and think critically. The point is that such teaching approach seems to be aimed at creation of people, who would be easily manipulated.
The extremes by the representation of the events is also viewed as one would refer to the well-known September 11. While the catastrophe has led to numerous deaths, it has also become the example of how the contracted views of the citizens are encouraged. Making the principle emphasis on the fact that “we represent a humane culture; they, violence and hatred”, George Bush limited the views of the Americans and encouraged hate among them. After the September 11 act, all western media accused the Arabs and Muslims of terror and terrorism. However, an act of a particular person or group does not represent the entire Arab ethnicity and the religion of Islam. After this incident, the USA went into war with Afghanistan, millions of innocent people were killed. Few years later, the USA went to war with Iraq, and yet again, millions of innocent people were killed, a country has been destroyed, and hundreds of people found themselves without any choice but to leave their countries and look for a new home after their homes and land has been destroyed. All of this said, the United States of America claims that it is the example of “human culture” to the world. What kind of humanity is that if people get orders to go to wars against each other and destroy lives and countries? Killing millions of innocent people is not human and cannot be viewed as such!! It is definitely impossible to view such generalization as human and rational neither from the perspective of morality, nor from any other. Accusing people of terror and violence when in in fact the United States went to war with many countries and killed billions of innocent people is intolerable
However, such one-sided humanism has appeared much earlier. It became Eurocentric after the Second World War, when it defended only on a specific category of people, which are whites, Europeans, Christians or males and excluded some of the main issues that occurred in the world such as slavery and the mass killing of the natives in America. I am against this approach of Euro-centricity because I believe that the world deserves to know the full, unfiltered truth about history and its most celebrated figures. For example, Christopher Columbus is viewed as a hero and as the person that discovered the USA, in the USA and in the rest of the world. This is what they want to promote to the world and this is what is being taught in American schools and curriculums for generations and generations. In fact, they have created a day in the year to celebrate Columbus and his achievements. I am not sure how the Americans and the rest of the world are buying this myth, when it is well known that the Aztec Empire (one of the greatest empires in history) took place there and also everyone knows that the indigenous people are the original citizens of the USA. How can someone discover a land if there were already people living there! This shows how Eurocentric the European and Western history is.
The US has become a powerful state. However, it has built its power upon other nations’ lives. They have killed millions of innocent people, almost whipped a whole population for greedy and selfish purposes. Cortez killed almost 80% of the Aztecs population. He claimed that they were barbarians because they believed in human sacrifice to please their God. Besides, Columbus mistreated and betrayed the natives. They were quite welcoming and willing to share everything they had, but their visitor has rewarded their generosity by enslaving and killing them. However, such presentation of the history would be absolutely inappropriate for the government, and would let people reflect more deeply on the fact whether the events that are told become the selective interpretation of the history that lets one manipulate the citizens’ actions.
The American government are selective on what they want their citizens to know and they are good at hiding the truth and affecting the peoples’ ideas and way of thinking. Some have mentioned that Adolf Hitler was influenced by what has happened in the USA and actually used similar strategies to oppress the Jews and other minorities. As a result, the entire world discusses that Hitler was a cruel dictator. However, no one mentions the cruel actions that were committed against the natives, although the number of natives killed is much higher than Hitler’s’ victims. This shows us how the USA is good at telling the world only half of the story and not the complete truth, in order for them to maintain the superior image that they have created for themselves.
To sum it up, each citizen should be more aware and think critically of the events that are reported in media or by the government. A number of the historical events from the remote past as well as the recent ones show that the information is too often perverted to manipulate people and their beliefs. Humanism must remain equal regardless the race or gender of people. Instead, cruel killing of people and it consequent skillful concealment is inhuman and must be perceived as the crime against humanity.