Imperialism as the Foundation of Orientalism

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Said’s analysis looks not only at the images that characterize Orientalism, but also why it looks the way it does. He points to Imperialism as the foundation of Orientalism — many of the early generalizations about Arabs came from the Imperialist impulse to control a nation through its people. By making broad assumptions about a certain group of people, colonialists found it easier to control the expansive empire they found in the east.&nbsp.Said’s analysis looks not only at the images that characterize Orientalism, but also why it looks the way it does. He points to Imperialism as the foundation of Orientalism — many of the early generalizations about Arabs came from the Imperialist impulse to control a nation through its people. By making broad assumptions about a certain group of people, colonialists found it easier to control the expansive empire they found in the east.&nbsp. Following the years after Napoleon’s 1798 conquest of Egypt, the French surveys of the country provided Europeans a window into the mysterious middle east. The volumes compiled demonstrated French military power but also introduced the first images of the region into the collective consciousness. These stereotypes would define the cultural perspective on the middle east for the next three centuries. In this section, Said talks about the differences between British and French Orientalism as opposed to American Orientalism. The key differences spring from two facts: firstly, America has never had a colony in the near east, and as such their perceptions are far more indirect and abstract. secondly, America has a long-standing tradition of support for the nation of Israel, which leads to a strong polarization between the “west” and the “east.” American media offers fresh anti-Arab sentiments on a regular basis, primarily due to the pro-Israel attitudes of the federal government. This bias, in turn, colors American perception of Israel. This section serves as a continuing examination of the perception of Arabs in the media. Although Said acknowledges the persistence of what might rightfully be defined as “terrorism,” he also argues that there are more variables at work than meets the eye. The primary concern here is that media emphasizes the threat and intensity of this “terrorism,” which in turn allows Westerners to apply this information to all people from the middle east, generalizations rarely dispelled through works of film, literature, or journalism.