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I had wanted to commend Barry Daniel, but wondered if that quintessentially western approach to scholarship and pedagogy were not equal parts remedy for, and crux of, the predicament. MES scholars, it seemed to me, get caught in the crossfire between an American public socialized to expect western norms, and a subject-culture to which those norms may be alien; and they take shots that are "really" aimed at the culture they study. Take for example the fundamental accusation that MES scholars are not fair-minded and evenhanded when they address contemporary issues in the Middle East. An example of what I think underlies that perception occurred earlier this week. Ian Masters had an Arab MES guest on "Background Briefing." Masters began the segment by excoriating Bush and his Mideast policy, but reluctantly confessed that he had to admit that there was a problem out there with Islamist militants agitating for a socio-political order that is antithetical to so much that we flaming liberals care about. He was especially dismayed, though, by the mental divide that separates "us" from "them." Masters (like Eric Hoffer before the impervious wall of the "True Believer") was appalled by a survey indicating that 80% of young Indonesian males believe that the U. S. & Israel masterminded 9/11, and by the widespread conviction among Arabs & Muslims that they were also behind the recent bombings in Istanbul and Baghdad. Masters then turned to his guest for help and counsel. His guest, however, promptly turned the focus back to American and Israeli malfeasance. In effect, Masters was saying "Look, we spend a lot of time scrutinizing our problems and lambasting OUR malefactors (aka 'evildoers') on this show; we have in the past and we will certainly do so again in the very near future, but just this once, let's scrutinize YOUR problems and lambast YOUR malefactors." His guest wasn't buying. He wanted to say more about OUR problems, OUR malefactors. Finally, in frustration, Masters cut the interview short. My take was that the guest reflected the canons proper to his own socialization, which, unfortunately, most Americans regard as "tribalism" (the Arab scholar reflected tribalism in one sense: a deep reluctance to condemn a member of the in-group in front of outsiders; the Muslim youth in the survey perhaps reflected tribalism in another: a hermeneutic that prefers a member's rumor to an outsider's evidence). The Arab scholar's response, then, has its own cultural logic, and its own cultural legitimacy. But it plays poorly in a culture that is committed to plural perspectives and elevates even-handedness and self-critique. It seems to me that MES scholars are frequently perceived as sharing the "uncritical" advocacy of engaged commentators with whom they naturally sympathize and whose views they often defend. The result is a perception that MES scholars themselves, when it comes to current political analysis, do not honor the norms of critical fair play. Maybe it's an ineluctable predicament, inherent to the MES mandate to bridge the gap between "us" and a set of cultures to which the canons of western scholarship and discourse have been less widely internalized. It could be mitigated on this side by a greater willingness to criticize-without the reflexive "yes, but"-the most pernicious elements of Arab and Muslim policy with a vigor similar to that that we direct at, say, U. S. policy dysfunctions. But I suspect that this would come at the cost of friendship and access on the other side of the divide. Roger Robins Marymount College RPV, CA, USA