David Barsamian in Conversations with Edward W. Said, "Culture and Imperialism" (Jan 1993)

  • David Barsamian: I think you might also be underestimating your own position. I remember when you came to Boulder in 1990 and you were astonished that your talk was being picketed and people were handing out leaflets denouncing you. You are a significant figure, and you will attract this kind of attention.
  • Edward W. Said: But even so, it strikes me as inhumane and intolerant. If Muslims did this, as they have done, for example, to Salman Rushdie, there's a chorus of protest saying, you cannot prevent somebody from speaking. But this continues against Palestinians. There are constant attempts to silence, to vilify, to blackmail, to make life miserable for anybody who dares speak out. I find that absolutely appalling. Especially since a lot of the time it's accompanied by moralistic piety about the necessity to remember the horrors of the past and the Jewish experience, with which i completely agree. But if you dare say something about an attendant holocaust, perhaps not a holocaust but a catastrophe - we call it the nakba, catastrophe - that occurred for us as a result of the Holocaust, the destruction of Palestine, that's not permitted. And the violence and the anger and the poison that is spewed out is terrifying.