Timor again (sorry Lou)

James M. Blaut 70671.2032 at SPAMcompuserve.com
Sat Nov 20 05:58:45 MST 1999


First, I don't find you answering my question about the cultural judgements
you make concerning Timorese:

>I find it disturbing that you talk about Timorese with phrases like
> --Guzmao "a romantic and sentimental character,"
> --Beloved "to the point of worship,"
> --"The east-timorese are very sensitive to this kind of nobility
> and distinguish it with blind loyalty and ritual submission."
> --"They are kind of monarchic."
> --" these are cultural traits very difficult to eradicate."

You reply: "I still have problems understanding what's so disturbing about
these statements..."

What is disturbing in this language is a hint of POSSIBLE unintentional
ethnocentrism of the sort we, in the US, are familiar with in judgements
about Native Americans, Africans, and others. A Portuguese Marxist would
presumably -- and I hope this is true of you -- be ultra-sensitive to
cultural judgements made about a former Portuguese colony.

Information about East Timor obtained from Portuguese newspapers may be as
authoritative as information about Puerto Rico, a US colony, obtained from
the New York Times.

As to your remarkably detailed and firm statements about Timoorese
politics, I'll just say that I'll await confirmation.

But no, you're wrong about the reason why I intervened in this matter. You
assert everything about this country and this intensely political conflict
as though you are stating undisputed facts. I inquire whether it is the
case or not the case that these are matters of undisputed fact. My unease
is increased by your rather casual negative comments about Timorese
cultural traits ("blind loyalty," "ritual submission," etc.), and your
denial of what is commonly believed by progressive people in the US --
rightly or wrongly -- about FRETILIN.

By the way, I'm not totally ignorant of Timorese affairs.

Enough for now.


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