Talk:Arabist (political)

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Queer Article- Hodgepodge of Biases and POV[edit]

In reading this a number of questions arise: (1) There is mention of the UK and UK diplomats (presumably diplomats), but the article actually seems to be dealing exclusively with a US political question (fight between Israelophile and for lack of a better term, Arabophile interests). What is the point of the UK mention and what is the substantation? (2) The phrasing of the Negative Views seems rather POV and presupposing their basis, e.g. "individuals of a previous generation who came from an elite upper-crust social background, received a highly academic and theoretical training in Classical Arabic language and literature, went off to lead a pith-helmeted existence in the middle east for a few months or years (an experience for which their ivory-tower education might not have been the best practical preparation)," - this might be rather more neutrally phrased. (3) The phrasing of Positive Views seems in some ways equally POV. The two might be combined into one single non-POV discussion of the dispute. I am also not sure I would agree the UK has had to scramble to reconstitute a supposed "Arabist" cadre. (4) The list of notalbe Arabists is frankly bizarre. James Baker? As far as I know he never "served" in the Middle East or studied Arabic (although he was of course US Sec. of State and had the requisite MENA exposure then, hardly makes him an Arabist by the rather thin standards sketched out). (5) Finally the Arabist Academic reference seems to be a bit misplaced as that article is equally odd and largely discusses Iberian history. (Collounsbury 08:11, 5 February 2006 (UTC)).


Some replies:

  • The UK comes into the matter because UK diplomats and "experts" (these last not always diplomats) were much more highly engaged in the Mashreq region than U.S. ones before 1945. The UK also provides individuals who have a negative view of old-style Arabists with a conveniently more vivid mental imagery of tweedy and/or pin-striped upper-class twits bumbling around in the Middle East -- think Bertie Wooster, or a younger version of Denis Thatcher's associates as depicted in the Denis Thatcher letters, but having just graduated with an Arabic degree.
In short, your unsupported and partisan assertion with respect to UK connexion as to the 'controversy.' Unsupported and POV. (Collounsbury 02:43, 17 February 2006 (UTC)).
  • The language is "POV" because there are in fact prominent highly-conflicting emotionally-colored negative and positive views of Arabists. Many supporters of Israel perceived that the Arabists at the U.S. State Department were tweedy WASPy individuals subtly but pervasively tinged with a genteel and decorous "Gentleman's Agreement" type of anti-Semitism, and who always advised U.S. presidents to sell out Israel on every single occasion (regardless of the particular circumstances of each crisis), since the Arabs had oil. Such pro-Israel types with long memories regard the breaking of the Arabist stranglehold inside the U.S. government policy-making apparatus to be one of the most important political victories of the last 60 years. Of course, pro-Arab and Palestinian supporters regard the same event as the beginning of a pernicious AIPAC and "neo-con" domination of governmental policy, and of the U.S. entering onto a disastrous course with respect to the mid-east.
POV language is not justified by "emotional" views. Account above remains what appears to be your personal (and 'emotional') axe-grinding. (Collounsbury 02:43, 17 February 2006 (UTC)).
If someone were to summarize a scholarly neutral sociological or historical study of the rise and fall of the old-style Arabists, that would be a highly-welcome addition to this article, but it's not what either the current positive or negative sections of this article are about.
  • The Arabist (academic) article is highly-focused on Spain because it was translated from Spanish, and no one has really taken it in hand to give it balance.
  • The "Positive views" section transitions to discussing the U.S. exclusively -- I think that's fairly clear from the wording...
The incoherent back and forth is POV and not NPOV discussion. (Collounsbury 02:43, 17 February 2006 (UTC)).
  • James Baker may not be a classic academically-trained old-style Arabist, but I presume that he was put on the list because somebody thought that he was close to Arab oil interests. U.S. politicians who were close to the Saudis, and lobbied for Saudi interests after they were out of office, had a negative light cast on them after September 2001. I don't really know much about James Baker, and whether or not he was one of the close Saudi cronies. AnonMoos 18:19, 16 February 2006 (UTC)
in short the term then is a vague term of abuse that has nothing to do with the supposed definition. Merely asserting US officials are close to X, Y or Z interests is (i) POV, (ii) hardly appropriate for encyclopedia treatment. Again this merely confirms that article is NPOV and poorly supported. Citing "members" of the "Arabist" cirlce based on vaguely perceived association is again partisan political axe-grinding and inappropriate to reference materials. I am going to slap a POV and standards warning on this incoherent mishmash. (Collounsbury 02:43, 17 February 2006 (UTC)).

Another reply:

(1) The lack of UK information came from the expansion of the article in certain areas and not others. Its waiting for someone qualified to step in.

(2) The phrasing of the "views" was due to the totally divergant political viewpoints and trying to keep the article from taking sides. The whole term itself is often a loaded accusation against those it is directed at. Rather than people idetifying themselves as "arabists", they are labeled as such by others with a political agenda. The phrase objected to is the nice way of saying it. It can't be made neutral because its at its base an attack on people based on their background.

(3) the positive views are positive because the negative views are negative. To make the article netural would involve taking sides and therefore would make it POV.

(4) The whole idea of "arabists" is controversial as is the specific idetification of individuals. James Baker is put on the list because he is a WASP who served in the state department who was seen as being too friendly to arabs and not friendly enough to Israel (the usual qualification). The specifics don't matter to those who use the term.

(5) The Arabist Academic reference is more correct than the political use of the term. Though the old meaning of the term as reflected in the academic page has been killed by the political one.

The page isn't great but any attempt to change its format will result in an almost impossible situation where it will be required to come up with a neutral description of a term that is an accusation.

64.12.116.135 23:53, 1 May 2006 (UTC)

I see that no substantive reply to my critique has come in almost a year. I am inclined to edit this down to a stub since the incoherent mish-mash of POV arguments, pro and con, are clearly not what an encyclopedia should do - and frankly merely underline piss-poor editing and writing. collounsbury 19:32, 17 February 2007 (UTC).

Juan Cole[edit]

What is the basis for counting Juan Cole here rather than in Arabist? It seems to me that he fully qualifies for that proper use of the term rather than this slightly disparaging one. - Jmabel | Talk 16:20, 3 April 2006 (UTC)

Why not put him in both places? elizmr 17:45, 3 April 2006 (UTC)

POV tag[edit]

This is about tag cleanup. As all of the tags are more than a year old, there is no current discussion relating to them, and there is a great deal of editing done since the tags were placed, or perhaps there is a consensus on the discussion page, they will be removed. This is not a judgement of content. If there is cause to re-tag, then that of course may be done, with the necessary posting of a discussion as to why, and what improvements could be made. This is only an effort to clean out old tags, and permit them to be updated with current issues if warranted.Jjdon (talk) 21:32, 30 April 2008 (UTC)