The following is an excerpt from an essay called "Observations on Arabs" by Stephen Browne. Mr. Browne is a teacher who spent a year teaching students in Saudi Arabia. He bases his "observations" on his experience:
Since the beginning of the Iraq phase of this conflict of civilizations, I've experienced the teeth-grinding frustration of watching both pro- and anti- Iraq sides make the exact same mistake - that of supposing that these people are bascially Americans in funny costumes.
I went there with a certain sympathy for Arab grievances, a belief that America had earned a lot of hostility from "blowback" from our ham-handed interventionist foreign policy and support for Israel etc. I came back with the gloomy opinion that over the long run we are going to have to hammer these people hard to get them to quit messing with Western Civilization.
... with the caveat that one of the first things I learned was that the term “Arab” covers a lot of territory, here are some observations and some tentative conclusions about Arabs, more specifically about Arabs from the oil states, about why we have misunderstood each other to the point that we are fighting a war with some of them and are pissing off the rest of them. I suspect that many of these also apply to Iranian Islamists, but I have never been there and note that Iranians are not Arabs and have a different cultural history.
1) They don’t think the same way we do.
No, I mean THEY REALLY DON'T THINK THE SAME WAY WE DO. Yes, yes, I know we are all human and share the same human nature (perhaps the most disastrous mistake of Marxism was the denial of this elementary fact). But within the scope of that shared human nature, there are a lot of different ways to be human. We Americans have a basically open attitude to our fellow human beings and sometimes forget this. Combined with the fact that most Americans are linguistic idiots, we tend to assume that anyone who learns to speak English learns to think like us.
That's the first of his 12 observations. I recommend reading the whole thing, but in case you don't have time today, here is the concluding observation:
12) Our civilization is destroying theirs.
We cannot share a world in peace. They understand this; we have yet to learn it.
Another culturally-imposed blindness we have is the notion that everybody can get along with enough good will. There is absolutely no evidence to support this and a great deal to oppose it. Can the subjugation of women coexist with Western Civilization with Western media ubiquitous throughout the world? Can a pluralistic and tolerant society be governed by Islamic law? Can a modern economy exist where interest is forbidden and many forms of business risk-taking are considered gambling, and thus forbidden? Can a society that educates its young men by a process of rote recitation produce critically thinking, technically educated men to build and operate a modern economy?
Can you even teach elementary concepts of maintenance to a people who believe that anything that happens is inshalla (As God will it)? To compete, or even just survive in the world they must become more like us and less like themselves – and they know this.
And, they don't want to become like us, because it requires growing up and taking on responsibility, you know, acting like men. And, they don't want that. Therefore, they are throwing a worldwide temper tantrum and calling it a Jihad.
As Mr. Brown says here, we are going to have to hammer them.
He’s a guy who can face the harsh reality that many other would like to explain away. I’ve heard stories like that before. Naïve Americans who believe everyone is just like their teachers and textbooks describe but find the reality far different. Many won’t believe their eyes. But every now and then someone comes back with the truth. Arabs really do think differently than we do.
Is it just me, or does anyone else have the eerie feeling that these points could also describe a lot of spoiled-rotten, overindulged, self-absorbed youthful products of contemporary Western upbringing? Let's see: sex-obsessed, uninterested in work, believe in all sorts of New Age and other nonsense, obligations only run one way (theirs), aware they are unprepared for adult life and resentful of it, but likeable under the right circumstances, dude. No wonder they've got so many apologists in the West. We have met the enemy and they are still living over the garage.
Seriously, though, it seems we long ago lost the ability to deal effectively with spoiled brats and now we are facing spoiled brats with nukes.
That is a very good point. I hadn't thought of that. That makes me sad to think about, but I have to admit it is true.
I'm always up for a little philosophizing with a hammer.
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