I would like to focus on Edward Said idea of “Orientalism” a term he uses to “describe a pervasive Western tradition, both academic and artistic, of prejudiced outsider interpretations of the East, shaped by the attitudes of European imperialism in the 18th and 19th centuries” (Wikipedia) I would like to discuss how this mentality, “Orientalism”, is still prevalent in today’s society. It is unfortunate that in today’s society we continue to a have a negative and inaccurate depiction of the ‘Eastern’ world, specifically the Middle East. I believe this is due to the world’s acceptance of an inaccurate western media that depicts the Middle East and the eastern world negatively. The willingness to judge and accept mass media’s stereotyping of a nations culture and religion is constantly and continuously ingrained into our thoughts and minds. Today’s society is obsessed with mass media, and as stereotypes of individuals, nations, religions and cultures continue to compound so do these stereotypes. It is important to look at all aspects of media with an open mind and a willingness to question exactly you are seeing or hearing. It is unfortunate that the general public accepts daily stereotypes seen in mass media as real and accurate, and that we base our beliefs towards the Middle East, generally speaking, only using a western view.
Why are these stereotypes so deeply ingrained into western society?
I believe it is based on fear, the idea of “difference” or the “other” as Edward Said discusses in his work that is the driving force behind “Orientalism” and the stereotyping of the Middle East. Just because something or someone is different, does not make it wrong, negative or unacceptable. A close mind and unwillingness to accept difference is an extremely dangerous mindset. And in my opinion creates a lot of the issues that we struggle with around the world. I think it is important for everyone to make a conscious effort to not accept mass media’s depiction of the Middle East and to not follow the general public, but instead create your own educated and well rounded opinion. Approach topics regarding the Middle East with intrigue and interest rather than with preconceptions and fear. Openness to difference is the beginning of change.
I encourage everyone who reads this blog post to go outside their comfort zone and meet someone who you believe is different from you and learn about there culture, religion and nation.