February 9, 2002

Homi Bhabha, Homi Bhabha, I just love to say that name

I don't want to pick on Jonah Goldberg - he's an insightful and often funny guy - but in his string of attacks on post-modernists, he keeps missing the most amusing ironies. Here, he dumps on a Harvard professor with the wonderful Arabian Nights name of Homi Bhabha. Homi Bhabha (I just love saying that name) is a hot "post-colonial theorist" who has an even more muddled prose style than is normal for the breed. What Jonah doesn't realize is that Homi Bhabha is a fellow conservative. (Read this NYT article carefully.)

This fabulously rich Parsi from Bombay writes in such a tortured prose style to cover up his commonsensical dissent from the Edward Said-orthodoxy of his field. Unlike Said, who denounces Europeans who write about Arabs to cover up how embarrassed he is by his fellow Arabs, as a Parsi, Homhi Bhabha simply doesn't feel like purely a victim of colonialism. His remarkably intelligent race of Zoroastrians (they are to South Asia what Hungarian Jews were to pre-Holocaust Europe) did very well for themselves under the British as industrialists, although British racial snobbery was no doubt galling. In fact, a Parsi was elected to Parliament as a Tory M.P. from the English Home Counties in the 1890s! To Homi Bhabha, it's obvious that colonialism wasn't all bad, and that Said's model of the world is stupid. But he's too smart and too careerist to come out and say it clearly.

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