Rants and Raves

Opinion, commentary, reviews of books, movies, cultural trends, and raising kids in this day and age.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Observations on Arabs

Journalist Jill Carroll is back home now, and detailing her experiences as a captive of the jihadists in Iraq in the Christian Science Monitor.
( http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0814/p01s01-woiq.html ) I'm sure the details will prove fascinating, but the upshot of what she has learned is that the Islamists are - gasp! - different from us! Furthermore, I believe that she's beginning to suspect that they are really not very nice people. Oh whatever will this poor old world be FORCED to endure next?

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. In this respect, George Bush and Michael Moore are equally clueless, as was Jill Carroll apparently.

I went to live and work in Saudi Arabia in 1998, and I "made my year" as expats there put it. That phrase means that I actually stuck out the whole year, instead of "running" from my contract, an occurrence so common that you only have to say "he did a runner" to explain why someone isn't showing up for work anymore. And while my experience wasn't nearly as unpleasant as Jill Carroll's, I could have told her a thing or two before she went to Iraq armed with her overflowing good will.

In Eastern Europe and the South Balkans, whenever I have gone to live in a place which I had formed opinions about, the actual experience of living there has always radically changed those opinions, sometimes into a completely contradictory one. Most often, my academic research led me to form a beautifully coherent model which experience turned into a semi-coherent collection of observations and tentative conclusions.

In the case of the Kingdom, 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. And by the way, among "rational, fair-minded" non-interventionist libertarians, not a damn one of them has asked me, "What in your experience caused you to change your mind?" Instead what I get are gratuitous insults followed by insufferably condescending lectures about how wrong I am.

So, 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.

2) When you meet them in just the right circumstances, they are a very likable people.

Arabs are often easy to like, but difficult to respect - as opposed to Israelis, who are often difficult to like but impossible not to respect. From their nomadic heritage they have a tradition of generosity and hospitality to guests that warms the heart. Arab shopkeepers have a talent for making you feel guilty that you didn’t buy anything (once you get past a dislike of having them lay hands on you). Haggling is a social grace with them and when you ask the price, and agree to the first one quoted, they will often come down on the price just out of pity for your social ineptness. This does not in the least affect the fact that no friendship with you is ever going to remotely equal the obligations they have for their family, tribe or the community of the Believers.

3) Their values are fundamentally different from ours, their self-esteem is derived from a different source.

And you know what? Theirs is PHONY. Yes I know, I’m making a cultural value judgment, the cardinal sin when I was a grad student in Anthropology. With us, the most important sources of self-esteem are useful work and the love of a good woman. Being good at something that requires skill (even a hobby) and being of primary importance to somebody just because you are who you are. Work for them, is something to be avoided. The basic forms of work: making stuff, growing stuff and moving stuff around, is taken care of by a class of indentured servants, usually non-Arab Muslims from the Third World, and even today, by outright slaves. The Kingdom is a modern country, they abolished slavery in 1967, but old expats have reported seeing slave auctions as late as 1981.

On one occasion a student of mine asked me, “Teacher, what do you call a man who can be sold?” (Excellent use of the passive voice, I was proud of him.) I explained, “He is called a slave, the condition is called slavery, the verb is to enslave.” Later I had occasion to ask them about the headsman, the fellow who cuts heads and hands off in chop-chop square in front of the mosque on Fridays. The reason I asked was that from my studies I knew that in tribal societies converting from a tribal or feudal system into a system of common laws, a man condemned to death by a court of law must often be executed by a member of his own tribe, or a complete outsider so that the execution does not spark a blood feud. In the Kingdom the headsman is usually a Sudanese. My students explained, “Yes teacher, he’s a slave.” i.e. he’s a person of no importance and therefore outside the web of obligations of vengeance.

The point being, in a slave society, work is not honorable (as De Tocqueville pointed out) and cannot be a source of self-worth.

In Tunisia I saw a population doing their own work and I have worked with a fair number of Jordanians engaged in skilled labor and the professions. Note that neither is an oil state and I believe their contribution to the ranks of terrorists is far less than the oil-rich countries. It is difficult to argue that poverty is the driving cause of terrorism.

“Of conjugal love they know nothing.” (Thomas Jefferson on the French aristocracy.) In a land of arranged marriages, where the whole society is geared towards a strict segregation of the sexes and women are at least semi-chattels, romantic love is rare – and greatly desired. In the Kingdom I found a few students with a consuming interest in romantic poetry, whom I had to teach very discretely. Most of them were just obsessed with sex however. And interestingly, when visiting the West or the fleshpots of Bahrain, they are said to have a tendency to fall in love with the prostitutes they patronize.

Without honorable work, romantic love or any accomplishments not overshadowed by those the West, their sense of self-worth comes from being the possessors of the One True Religion. And Allah doesn’t seem to be delivering on his promises of being exalted above the unbelievers these days.

On the plus side, they are willing to spare you and absorb you into their community as a respected member if you convert to the One True Religion. The Brotherhood of Believers is a reality in the lands of Islam, and while it sometimes falls short of the ideal (as does our democratic ideal) it is a reality, and in its way admirable.

4) Not only can they not build the infrastructure of a modern society, they can’t maintain it either.

The very concept of "maintenance" is foreign to them. This is what drives the foreign instructors in the Gulf absolutely mad. The per capita richest countries in the world resemble Eastern Europe or Latin America in the tackiness and run-down appearance of the buildings and streets. An electronics technician new to the Kingdom once told me how his first job was to inspect a junction box in the desert. He had to pry it open with a crowbar as it had evidently not been opened since it had been installed several years earlier.

This is expressed in the inshallah philosophy, “If God wills it.” A Palestinian friend of mine explained to me that even the weather forecaster will qualify his prediction, “It will rain tomorrow. Inshallah.” Or, “I will meet you tomorrow, inshallah.” (But God understands that I am a very unreliable person.)

I remember giving a pep talk to my students before a crucial exam, “You are all going to pass the exam, right?” “Inshallah teacher.” “No, no!” I shouted, “No inshallah. Study!”

This was once also characteristic of the former communist countries. Work was indifferently performed and maintenance was a real problem. A factory owner in Poland told me that machines he bought from Sweden lasted only half as long in Poland as they did in Sweden because of poor maintenance. However as soon as people were assured that they could keep a reasonable amount of what they worked for, people reverted to their true cultural patterns, worked plenty hard and started to take care of their tools and the public spaces.

5) They do not think of obligations as running both ways.

With us, contractual and moral obligations tend to be equal and reciprocal. They don’t see it that way. The obligations of the superior to the inferior do not equal those of the inferior to the superior. Obligations within a family or clan outweigh all others. That is why we had to take care not to sit members of the same clan near each other during exams. If one asks another for help, he has to give it. In spite of promises to the school and even when the clansman is a total stranger. Obligations to other believers outweigh all obligations to unbelievers and especially when the believers are fellow-Arabs. And in contracts with unbelievers, the obligations of the Believer to the kaffir are not equal to the obligations of the kaffir to the Believer.

Consider that Muslims in England have quite un-selfconsciously demanded that a pub near a Mosque be shut down as offensive to their religion – in spite of the fact that the pub had precedence by six hundred years! Or that they demanded the right to broadcast the prayer call on loudspeakers in London while it is illegal to have a church at all in the Kingdom.

6) In warfare, we think they are sneaky cowards, they think we are hypocrites.

In our civilization, when two men get down, either seriously or just “woofing”, what do they say? Some variation of “I’m going to kick your ass.” Am I right? Here’s what I heard in the Kingdom, “Hey, don’t f**k with me, or someday you get a knife in the back.” I’m not saying that wouldn’t happen to you in the West, but most men would be ashamed to make a threat of that nature. We don’t understand that direct shock battle is not necessarily the law of nature. When overwhelming force is brought to bear on them, they become cringing and obsequious. To put it bluntly, they lie their heads off to get you to turn your back on them. Try to see it from their point of view – how else do you expect them to act when you have the overwhelming force? You expect them to meet you on equal terms when the situation is so unequal? What other tactics are available but prevarication and delay followed by a sneak attack?

Folks, what we call “terrorism” is quite close to the historically normal way of warfare among these people.

7) In rhetoric, they don’t mean to be taken seriously and they don’t understand when we do.

Thus an ultimatum is often not taken seriously and the reality comes as a surprise. Remember the “Mother of all Battles”? Like many other Mediterranean peoples, Arabs don’t seem to mind making a scene in public and have a high blown sense of drama. Paul Harvey once described how he had spent the Suez Crisis hiding under the bed in his hotel room because of the blood-curdling radio broadcasts, before he learned that Arabs talk like that when they’re arguing over a taxi. “This is my taxi and I will defend it to the death!” “You lie, it’s mine and rivers of blood will flow in the street before I give up my taxi!”

An Arab will scream at you, get into your personal space and sometimes kick dirt on your shoe – and they react with utter surprise when an American up and decks him. “What did I do?” To say the least, this makes negotiations difficult.

8) They don’t place the same value on an abstract conception of Truth as we do, they routinely believe things of breathtaking absurdity.

I cannot begin to tell you of some of the things I’ve heard from Gulf Arabs or read in the English language press in the Kingdom. “The Jews want Medina back.” (Medina was a Jewish city in the time of the Prophet.) The Protocols of the Elders of Zion has been turned into an immensely popular miniseries on Egyptian TV. The Blood Libel (the medieval myth that Jews need the blood of non-Jewish babies to celebrate Passover) is widely reported in the Arab press, and widely believed. Allah will replenish the oil beneath Arabia when it runs out.

I’ve been assured, by well-educated and otherwise sensible people that Winston Churchill was Jewish and that Anthony Quinn had been blacklisted and would never work again after making Lion of the Desert (just before he made that turkey with Kevin Costner).

9) They do not have the same notion of cause and effect as we do.

This involves some seriously weird stuff about other people being responsible for their misery because they ill-wished them. I’ve read in the English-language press of the Kingdom serious admonitions against using Black Magic to win an advantage in a dispute with a neighbor. The columnist did not deny the efficacy of Black Magic, he just said it’s forbidden to use it. On one occasion I was trying to explain the concept of "myth" to them and I used the example of the djinn. I wasn't getting through to them at all and was concerned that I had mangled the pronunciation of the word when it dawned on me that the reason they didn't understand what I was getting at, was that they had no doubt that the djinn were real.

10) We take for granted that we are a dominant civilization still on the way up. They are acutely aware that they are a civilization on the skids.

Anyone who looks at the surviving architecture of Moorish Spain can tell that Islamic civilization has seen better days. There was a time when cultural transmission between Islam and the West went overwhelmingly from them to us. (Note the recent discoveries of Sufi symbols engraved on the structural members of European cathedrals.) Now the situation is reversed, and it is humiliating for them.

11) We think that everybody has a right to their own point of view, they think that that idea is not only self-evidently absurd, but evil.

In the West, and America more than anyplace else, we have internalized the notion that everyone has a right to their own opinion, and that said opinion is perfectly valid for them. When we meet a people who think that that idea is insane and evil, we are sometimes left in the absurd position of defending their idea as “perfectly valid for them”. Doesn’t work that way for them, God’s Truth is laid out in some detail in the Koran, and not to believe it is a sin. I know I know, in America you can find lots of Christian Fundamentalists who believe that God will cast you into hell for holding the wrong opinions about Him, but even those who would make their religion into an established church seldom desire the level of enforcement in such detail as the Kingdom does or the Taliban did.

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.


  • At 11:44 PM, Blogger Uczen said…

    Good stuff. I'd question whether Western civilisation can be viewed as a cohesive unit, though. A couple of the points you make:

    "We think that everybody has a right to their own point of view"

    "With us, contractual and moral obligations tend to be equal and reciprocal"

    I'd say are only applicable in an enlightened society. Unfortunately I've found plenty of examples to the contrary!

    The rest's right on the button as fas as I can see though.

  • At 11:44 PM, Blogger Uczen said…

    Good stuff. I'd question whether Western civilisation can be viewed as a cohesive unit, though. A couple of the points you make:

    "We think that everybody has a right to their own point of view"

    "With us, contractual and moral obligations tend to be equal and reciprocal"

    I'd say are only applicable in an enlightened society. Unfortunately I've found plenty of examples to the contrary!

    The rest's right on the button as fas as I can see though.

  • At 5:14 PM, Blogger Jason Pappas said…

    Some excellent points. I'm familiar with many but you add some that are new for me.

  • At 6:45 PM, Blogger Site Owner said…

    The only feasible solution is going to be isolating them. If they want to live in the 12th century, who are we to tell them they cannot? The West will have to stop allowing them into our countries, effectivley segregating them in enclaves of Muslim cul-de-sacs. I suppose we do have another alternative. We could continue allowing them to live among us with their nearly totally alien mindsets, until the point where our own near-zero birth rates will push us into minority status as their 4-for-1 birth rates give them majority status. If we like the prospect of our great-grandchildren living under Sharia, we should continue with the status quo.

  • At 5:21 AM, Blogger El Viejo said…

    One thing I didn't see mentioned, is an inability to live in today. (Something bad happened 4, 40, 400 years ago, it must be avenged).

    They also acribe this to others. The rumor that the jews want Medina back. Also the Iranian letter to German's expecting them to oppose the US, b/c of the defeat they received in WWII.

  • At 10:27 AM, Blogger M. Simon said…

    I just did a bit on a similar subject and gave this piece a link:


  • At 4:44 PM, Blogger Duchess Of Austin said…

    Wow...this is amazing stuff. I'm emailing the link to a friend of mine who doesn't take this thing seriously. I hope he reads it!

  • At 3:44 AM, Blogger Unknown said…

    I am linking this post of yours. Hope you dont mind

  • At 4:16 AM, Blogger Unknown said…

    I was just curious - what does this one mean ?

    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).

  • At 5:09 AM, Blogger Jean said…

    Many serious and good stuff here, although sometimes caricaturized, but I guess that comes from the fact that you lived among them.

    I read that someone in the comments suggested isolating them. That would never work.

    Besides, countries like Lebanon, originally a 100% non arab christians country, are becoming "invaded" by muslims and arabs. I should know, I lived there.

    To me, the solution is still far away.

  • At 11:15 AM, Blogger Robert said…

    Excellent. The amazing thing is that so many Westerners can live among Arabs for years and fail to grasp the obvious facts you lay out.

    I gleaned an interesting factoid from Spengler's The Decline of the West: the rise of Islamic civilization was largely traceable to the role of Jews, who were especially important in Moorish Spain. Arabs were as dependent on Jews then as they are on Westerners now. I believe many educated Arabs realize this and know that when they kicked all the Jews out of Arab lands, who then mostly went to Israel, they doomed themselves to social and cultural primitivism. This despair makes a peaceful resolution of the Palestinian problem impossible.

  • At 5:50 PM, Blogger Isaac Schrödinger said…

    Excellent post. Many in the West are truly in the dark about such matters. That is why these first-hand experiences are most useful.

    My thought here:
    Unveiling Saudi Arabia

  • At 2:08 PM, Blogger JINGOIST said…

    OUTSTANDING post Steve! I'm officially a big fan now. We have to be more realistic in our dealings with the Arab world.

    As you well know the Arabs/Islamists react in a predictable fashion to overwhelming force; they fold like a house of cards. This should teach even the densest among us how to react to terrorist atrocities. We need to hit back HARD! If the terrorists who hit us in the future operate in broad daylight in Gaza City, we need to hit the city with ten fuel air explosives (aka "daisy cutters").
    They respect strength, not our cherished sense of cultural tolerence and fairness.


  • At 3:46 PM, Blogger Clovis Sangrail said…

    I, too, am linking this post at

  • At 3:46 PM, Blogger JohnM said…

    Excellent post.

    I too have worked in several countries in the middle East (Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Saudi and UAE and I think your comments are right.

    I worked in Morocco, where my team were all Arabs or Berbers. One guy took the trouble to show me round and make sure that I wasn't alone at weekends. After about three weeks he gave me an English Language book called something like the 200 Fatal Flaws in Christianity. It contained gems like: in Genesis it claims that God created the sun on the 4th day. Since day and night refer to the movement of the sun, there could not have been 3 days before. QED. The first thing I learnt was don't admit to being an atheist - it's too complicated. So I tried to explain the fact that few Christians would read this as a literal truth or that it was allegorical in intent. This was totally incomprehensable to him. Nevertheless I assumed he was untypical.

    In Egypt I had several weird conversations but one stands out. I conducted a training for about 10-12 Egyptians. All were university educated in either Europe or America. The training took place several months after the EgyptAir crash where the co-pilot repeatedly said "Tawakalt ala Allah" ("I put my trust in God") as he deliberately sent the plane into a dive. This was brought up during a break and one attendee said that the plane had been deliberately brought down by the Americans. To my no one else demurred - it was fact. The argument went: Muslims don't commit suicide. Ergo this Muslim didn't commit suicide. Hence the Americans must have shot the plane down to kill the 30 plus generals on board.

    Saudi is almost a case apart from the rest of the Arab world. On my first day at my employer, I met each Arab head of department who each individually spent a long time with me before introducing me to his assistant. The assistants were either Western or Oriental. Thereafter I learnt that the assistants actually did the work, and I never had to deal with the HoDs again. The total absence of woman in the workplace is strange. In general, woman are rarely seen and never without a man. The only exceptions were beggars. Of course I met many women in private homes and without veils too. All resturants are segregated into men and family sections. Consequently I was bored by week three. On my team I had about 5 people of whom only one was a Arab. He spent a fair amount of time with us. I was due to finish my contract during Ramadan, which wasn't really acceptable so there was some pressure to finish early.
    One other consequence of Ramadan was the fact that public executions seemed to grow in frequency in the weeks before to avoid any need to consider clemency. I was invited several times but declined, not least because I was warned that Westerners were pushed to the front to get a better view. It did learn that your chances of actually being executed varied by origin, with South Asians in pole position.

    One interesting thing you do not mention is inter-tribal hierarchy. Saudis think they are better than other Arabs, and all are better than non-Arab Muslims. They in turn are better than us and so on. This is something that other Arabs recognise and resent. The Egyptians complained bitterly about it; so too in the UAE.

  • At 3:52 PM, Blogger JohnM said…

    One final observation.

    I found there is an obsession with "loss of face". I met Arabs who would rather continue saying something they knew to be wrong rather than just admit and move on.

  • At 7:49 PM, Blogger Dan said…

    Very enlightening. Heard about this through gus van horn, a weblog @http://gusvanhorn.blogspot.com/ - post title: A Cold, Hard Look at Arabic Culture and I linked to it in a post on my weblog, ObjectivelySpeaking @http://objectivelyspeaking.thinkertothinker.com/ -title:http://objectivelyspeaking.thinkertothinker.com/?p=63.
    Also added you to my Feed-Reader @ http://www.bloglines.com/public/LDSmith. Very well done.

  • At 9:30 PM, Blogger Steve said…

    Hi Nobody (Are you expecting to put out a Cyclops' eye in a cave?)

    I'm dealing with the question of a common human nature in my post, The Pleasures of Anthropology, but basically my understanding of Marxism is that Marx held that human nature is entirely a product of our environment, more specifically the economic conditions of a person's class.

  • At 12:11 AM, Blogger Tin Foil Hat Guy said…

    Steven Ambrose... The great 20th century American historian interviewed thousands of American GIs during the course of his glorious career. He always concluded his interview with the same several questions asked of every interviewee.. One of the questions he always asked was this... (paraphrased.. forgive me) Of all the cultures you incountered during the war (WWII) which culture did you find the most un-trustworthy... he reported that almost to the man each answered.. The Arab..

    Good Post...

  • At 8:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I have noticed many of the same traits among the edges of our own political spectrum -- Berkeley Marxists and Taliban Baptists...

  • At 11:38 AM, Blogger FreeBohemian said…

    Superb post! I too spent a while in Saudi in 1996. Your reference to their take on warfare reminds me of a bit I posted on my blog some weeks back:


    I found all 12 of your points to be right in line with my experiences.

  • At 2:04 PM, Blogger JINGOIST said…

    C'mon Phil, you can do better than that. I agree completely that you can't trust a Marxist as far as you can throw 'em. After all lying is perfectly acceptable to them. It's all about furthering their cause.
    As a Jew, I've met as many aggravating Baptists as fellow Jews. In my experience they are far more likely to tell you the truth than the average Joe. They understand the part about "bearing false witness" and pay it heed.
    Don't you think the "Taliban Baptist" insult was gratuitous?


  • At 3:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    OK, fair enough, I guess my wife is right because she has told me essentially the same thing. My chosen term was not at all meant to refer to ALL Baptists, but to a particularly brittle type of Fundamentalist which, if you ever were to run up against or rub the wrong way, so to speak, as I have more than once, I dare say, you might at least see what I was getting at. The type of situation I have in mind quickly degenerates into confrontations with strict Manacheans (sp?), persons who see themselves as GOOD, as being ONLY good and only THEY are good, meaning that I am therefore the bad guy. These folks apparently rely on some doctrine of unconditional forgiveness to bail them out of whatever outrageous lies they care to conjure up in order to save face. I always thought Christianity was about saving faith….

  • At 3:39 PM, Blogger JINGOIST said…

    In my experience they're an easy target because they have strong Christian beliefs. This makes them hated by the MSM. At that point specifics and truth are all that matter. In my opinion when CBS says "A", bet the house on "B." We have something in common. Smart wives.


  • At 6:05 AM, Blogger Gayle Miller said…

    Absolutely the best (and most believable) "rant" I've read. I'm referring to your blog on my blog today since my cousin only sent me the link to you yesterday!

  • At 11:21 AM, Blogger Kevin J. Jones said…

    Does the habit of rhetorical blustering explain Iran's nuclear saber-rattling?

    Also, how applicable are such observations to Christian Arab culture?

  • At 4:53 PM, Blogger James said…

    To Nobody-

    I believe the author intended the 'disastrous mistake' to refer to denial of some human characteristics i.e. greed, religious impulse, etc. rather than denial of the homogeneity of human nature.

    I believe that it is widely recognized that Marxism failed in part because of the limits of humans' willingness to work for the common good rather than for their personal enrighment.

  • At 8:35 PM, Blogger BuckeySandy said…

    Very interesting and maches pretty much my experiences with women from the Gulf states (only another woman can "instruct" women and girls).

    There is a VERY STRICT separation of the sexes, one that is difficult to understand by those of us raised in "western" culture.

    It is total war, whether we realize it or not.

    If they had "the bomb" would they use it? In less than a heart beat. Some of their "teachers" are teaching that a nuclear weapon will only kill "unbelievers" and other vermin. Not true faithful Muslims.

  • At 9:40 PM, Blogger Andrew Graff said…

    "I have noticed many of the same traits among the edges of our own political spectrum -- Berkeley Marxists and Taliban Baptists..."

    If this is what you are provoked by the essay to say, then clearly you just don't get it. The whole point that you have to take away from the essay is that there are people out there that are different than we are. They aren't merely Baptists in funny clothes, or Berkley Marxists with a different dialect - they are alien, different, and they don't think like we do inclusively and not just 'they don't think like you do'.

    You need to spend some time 'out there' and see for yourself. Comparing them to things that are near at hand only shows your failure to grasp the concept of 'the other' - which is understandable because the whole concept of 'the other' is one of those things which is alien to us.

    And for the record, Manicheaism refers not to a mere belief that things may be divided into two spheres - good and bad - but that the two sides are equal and that evil has a positive character (in the since of being creative and having a substance in and of itself). It is pretty clearly derived by a marriage of Christianity with Eastern philosophy (just as the Gnostic sects clearly derive from Greek thought). Orthodox Christianity rejects pretty much all the tenents of Manicheaism. It doesn't neatly divide the world into two halves, it asserts that good is far more powerful than evil, and it denies that evil has an native power, existence or creative capacity of its own.
    There are no remaining schools of Christian thought which are derived from Manicheaism, but I suppose you could say that Mormonism is something of a Gnostic revival religion. In any event, dualism in no way implies a belief that you yourself are on the side of Good and perforce anyone else is on the side of evil. I'm not sure that has a technical term, I tend to just call it 'self-righteousness'. Dualism tends to have a different flaw, one most evident in the paranoid fearful sort of Christian that goes around continually making signs of the cross to ward off evil, and casting out and binding demons which seem to appear to them in every corner - so that you wonder whether the religion they practice is Christianity or demonology.

  • At 5:09 AM, Blogger Sir Henry Morgan said…


    I know I'm late with this, but I've only just discovered you (I will be back).

    There's very little of what you wrote with which I can quibble. Some minor points, but not worth disputing.

    I spent some eight years in the Gulf region: five in Oman; two in Qatar (from where I did a runner); and one in Saudi (another runner - and I've never since been back to the region).

    Your point about maintenance is particularly good. That's why I don't mind TOO much our selling them military equipment, because once our technicians are no longer there, it'll soon all come to a grinding halt.

    From a European perspective, and since first acquiring a computer a little under six months ago, I have to ask a question:

    Where are all these stupid Americans we keep hearing about?

  • At 6:47 AM, Blogger M. Simon said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • At 7:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    “If this is what you are provoked by the essay to say, then clearly you just don't get it. The whole point that you have to take away from the essay is that there are people out there that are different than we are.”

    During the sumjmer of 1963 I spent a weekend in Tangier which was my first experience outside of the West and one which created a lasting impression of the “other.” Just to see how they treated their own kind let alone an outsider such as myself was something I have never forgotten. Steve is right on.

    My thinking is still developing and so no doubt I do not explain myself very well, but what I was getting at is the idea is that we are all of us made up of the same substance in our purely natural selves. Until reformed by Biblical Christianity, we are much like what the Stephen Browne has so marvelously described in this blog.

    Personally, I don’t particularly like the term, “born again,” because it is much abused, but the basic thought is sound. We in the West have the benefit of a culture born of Christianity and the Bible. Even the most agnostic and scornful atheists among us are more “Christian” in their behavior than they may even realize due to the cultural influence we all enjoy.

    But there is a spectrum of degree among us, and that is what I was trying to point out with my insulting terms, though I decline to accept that they are in any way gratuitous.

  • At 8:00 AM, Blogger why me said…

    Cannot agree with you more. I've spent most of my early years in the middle east (Kuwait & UAE) & I could give you numerous accounts of fuzzy logic when it comes to the law. This is a classic one.

    I went to file a complaint with the police about a bounced check. We (our business outfit) had sold some goods to a local trader with whom we had done business with in the past. Checks bouncing is quite common in the trading business in the middle east & is considered "normal". However this particular one had not been honoured for a while & we throught it's time to file a complaint with the police. The police or CID (as he liked to refer to himself) called the local trader & asked him about the check. The local trader lied & said that he had honoured the check i.e. he paid up in cash. The CID asked him if he was Muslim & to swear by Allah that he was telling the truth. The local trader galdly obliged & the CID basically told us that he's telling the truth since he swore by Allah. Case closed! The CID did not ask for any proof of payment.

  • At 8:01 AM, Blogger why me said…

    Cannot agree with you more. I've spent most of my early years in the middle east (Kuwait & UAE) & I could give you numerous accounts of fuzzy logic when it comes to the law. This is a classic one.

    I went to file a complaint with the police about a bounced check. We (our business outfit) had sold some goods to a local trader with whom we had done business with in the past. Checks bouncing is quite common in the trading business in the middle east & is considered "normal". However this particular one had not been honoured for a while & we throught it's time to file a complaint with the police. The police or CID (as he liked to refer to himself) called the local trader & asked him about the check. The local trader lied & said that he had honoured the check i.e. he paid up in cash. The CID asked him if he was Muslim & to swear by Allah that he was telling the truth. The local trader galdly obliged & the CID basically told us that he's telling the truth since he swore by Allah. Case closed! The CID did not ask for any proof of payment.

  • At 8:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Just to add in comment to Andrew Graff’s thought-provoking post…

    “Manichean” was perhaps not the best nor most accurate term I could have invoked, but I was just trying to describe a state of mind which goes way beyond mere self-righteousness and which precludes the very possibility of there being anything evil in that state of mind whatsoever in direct contrast to what is plainly stated in Isa 45:7. People who do this, IMHO, give self-righteousness a bad name.

    whyme describes it very well in the incident with the bounced check, and Andrew also develops something similar but from another angle in his most excellent post


  • At 9:33 AM, Blogger Sir Henry Morgan said…

    Something I meant to say earlier:

    They don't just think different thoughts from us, they think in different ways. They work to a different logic.

    I'm an average Brit. and I've no doubt I think different thoughts from the average American or German, or whatever, but we all share the same logic, the same WAY of thinking. The Muslim, more specifically Arab logic is alien to us.

    That has been my experience. There are large numbers amongst us who follow this alien logic. They will never be anything other than trouble. Separation is the only solution: they all return to their Ummah, we carry on our lives in our own parts of the world. Harsh? Maybe, but better than the bloodshed that is inevitable otherwise.

  • At 4:32 PM, Blogger JINGOIST said…

    Sir Henry you have a great last name, and I agree with the main thrust of your argument. If some sort of separation doesn't take place things will get bloody indeed. The Arab/Muslim world is in fact incompatible with Western civilization and geographic distance seems to be the preferred solution.


  • At 6:01 AM, Blogger ThaiTai said…

    Everything you wrote leads me to the big question. As the Arabs are so different, what can we do to resolve the differences between us?

    The problem now is that there are so many Muslims among us that we face the same problem as the British during the 2nd world war with 5th columnists. The Muslim immigrants are breeding faster than us, so there is a real danger that their culture will overcome ours in the near future if we are not careful.

    Here are some suggestions:

    1. All Muslims who have immigrated to Western civilized countries should be invited to integrate into our society. This would include attending civics lessons, learning to speak the language of their adopted country, and moving into communities next to native inhabitants. Failure to do so within 2 years should result in their being deported back to country of origin.

    2. All Muslim clerics should be monitored by security personnel, and all their speeches recorded. Should any one of them encourage Jihad, or terrorism, they should be immediately deported and put on the terrorist black list.

    3. All efforts to integrate Muslims into our society so that they become productive members of society should be totally secular. Attempts by Christians or Jews would be suspect and the attempt would be undermined if they try to preach their own religious beliefs instead.

    Finally, why has everyone put their heads in the sand and ignored the recent (September 2006) warning from Al Queda for all Muslims to get out of the USA now, before the next big terrorist attack? They have even told us they plan to attack at least 5 US cities. Hasn't this sounded any warnings anywhere? I don't see any reports about it in the press, or in Blogs anywhere. Why?

    Be afraid, be very afraid. Arabs, and particularly Muslims, may not think like us, but that is why they are so very dangerous.

  • At 12:25 PM, Blogger Not Crazy said…

    I can contest many of your points (I've lived in SA more than you did and I learned Arabic). Of course, typically of Americans (which are seekers of knowledge, unlike the ignorant Arabs who believe in the protocols of Zion and what not), they will swallow anything just because someone said. Now THAT is the scientific approach that sets us apart from those inferior Arabs. Case in point: many of the cheerleaders in your comments section don't know anything at all about this and yet they're applauding. But it's not that your dislike of them and what they stand for (including your laughable notion of how you "analyzed" why they think their religion is so important), it's that you are actually in a position to TEACH, for God's sake. As if our school system isn't screwed up enough already, we have someone who visited an Arab country (out of two dozen) and feels content and confident in generalizing on all Arabs, analyzing everything about them, dissecting them and passing blanket judgments as "truth" to his students. How scary is that? I can't wait for you to look at an ancient Aztec skull and follow it up with a whole article telling us how inferior they are and "analyzing" their civilization and character.

  • At 4:36 PM, Blogger JINGOIST said…

    'Not crazy' did you actually read the entire article? Having had more than my share of contact with these people I think Steve nailed it as well as I've ever seen. He could have done some gratuitious guilty, leftist, white hand-wringing. Thankfully he chose not to.
    Our cherished Western civilization is once again under attack. I hope people like you figure it out in time. BTW if I was going to study Arabs I would probably start in Saudi Arabia, their ancestral homeland.


  • At 5:41 PM, Blogger Not Crazy said…


    Actually, I did, and where I applause the nice organization of his thoughts and the excellent articulation, I do think there's a degree of immaturity, ignorance and quite a few inaccuracies in his article. As for the Western Civilization, I would say that yes, it is under attack by Muslims, but this attack is only a reaction; an effect. The action, the cause, is the Western aggression against Muslims to impose control over them and their oil. Long before 9/11 and 7/7, there was colonial Europe, there was Israel and there was the US's staggering support for this little terrorist state. How can you expect our civilization *not* to be attacked? It's a physical law that applies perfectly in this context: cause, and effect. You create a tiny terrorist state and support its human rights abuses, and you get retaliation attacks from an angry nation that never attacked us at all until we did. If the Western Civilization wants to avoid this enemy, it should stop sticking its nose in the affairs of the Middle East. The West can't have it both ways.

  • At 5:44 PM, Blogger Not Crazy said…

    * applaud, that is.

  • At 7:20 PM, Blogger JINGOIST said…

    Israel is a terrorist state? Thank you for exposing yourself Mr. Crazy. Jeeeez you could have said that up front and saved me the time of responding in the first place. Good bye and get some professional help.


  • At 7:48 PM, Blogger Not Crazy said…

    Huh? A state with certified international human rights violations is not a terrrorist state? A state in violation of dozens of UN resolutions and one of the worst histories of prisoner torture and abuse is not a terrorist state? Have you read the report by HRW about the Jenin massacre? Have you any knowledge of the children and women they murder carelessly when they strike terrorists from afar? Or when they strand the sick and the elderly at some forsaken border and let them die there in the heat? You can't be this naive. The terrorism of the Israeli state is well-documented in all reputable news sources and international organizations pertaining to human rights.

  • At 8:46 AM, Blogger DT Strain said…

    What a wonderful post. Thanks.

    To those who say the solution is separation, I disagree.

    Their culture and way of thinking is one that is incompatible with modern values or progress. It is also one that brings an evil with it (which includes the likes of public executions, oppression of women, theocracy, etc). It is a dark plague on humanity and containment is simply not possible. Here's why:

    1) They are not content to be contained. Their aim is to cast their shadow over the entire globe.

    2) The option to contain only seems feasible because of the current military superiority of the West. As the global stage evolves over the next couple of centuries that may change. In addition, available weapons and means of attack are becoming more widespread and destructive all the time. Containment is only possible in the short run - if that.

    3) When the time comes that they cannot be contained and there are balance of power shifts, if that culture/religion/way of thinking still exists, then it will spead like a cancer, bringing down all of humanity with it.

    This is why that culture must be destroyed while it is still possible. By this, I mean the culture - not the people. This requires, not isolation but continued interaction and dialogue. Isolation only breeds more misunderstanding and increases conflict down the road.

    This means we need to aggresively spread our views and our culture into their's as much as we are able. We need to get into their schools, their media, etc. It needs to be deliberate and aggresive. Along the way, there will be much conflict and if its required then so be it. But the end goal must be the elimination (or drastic reduction) of this Medieval and barbaric thought and culture from humanity.

  • At 2:59 PM, Blogger JINGOIST said…

    You make some outstanding points DT Strain. The west is already making inroads into the Islamic world and that's a small part of the reason for their "upheavals."

    Islam is indeed incompatible with the modernity represented by the west, but so is communism. They are both ugly religions that will fail in the long run because of their basic evil.

    Along with confronting Islamists and wiping them out on the battlefields of Kabul and Gaza City, I say let's give them non-stop NFL and Seinfeld! Sounds like a plan.


  • At 7:20 PM, Blogger Not Crazy said…

    *Last post here*
    As I expected, applauders of this article usually are either those with biases against Muslims/Arabs or those who know nothing about them but buy it because it "looks" convincing. Case in point: DT Strain (and Jingoist). With phrases like the hilariously stereotypical (and judgmental) "Muslims are evil" or the paranoid "THEY WANT TO CONQUER THE WHOLE PLANET!", it's easy to see why the article is attracting a certain type of supporters. I think we see right before our eyes why Arabs and Westerners don't click: Westerners just don't know a lot about Arabs/Muslims, and yet they're safe in judging and stereotyping them. Of course, if Arabs display that kind of behavior, it adds up to their already questionable state of existence. We can do it, no problem. Anyway, to the original poster (the blogger), the first parts of your article were promising, then it deteriorated into a shockingly prejudiced, uninformed and strangely childish blanket judgments and generalizations. You will notice that those who come to support you don't know much about this at all, and few of them have been there and stayed there for long periods of time.

  • At 8:27 PM, Blogger BHCh said…

    Very interesting. You did a good job

  • At 10:09 PM, Blogger Daniel said…

    Interesting observations, although it seemed to focus on the negative.

    I spent a few months trekking in Palestine a few years ago, and observed the following about Palestinians:

    1) A great sense of generosity: Always willing to share what little they had with a travelling stranger.

    2) A strong emphasis of family. So much so, that my attitude towards my own family changed upon my return, eventually resulting in a desire to marry and have kids, whereas these things weren't important to me before my trip to Palestine.

    3) The counterpoint to 2 is that they didn't seem to value other levels of societal organization like we do, such as municipal, regional, or national. It was all about the family. (I Generalize, but only to make my point that the family is by far the most important level of societal organization to them).

    4) A traditionally high value on education, for both men and women. Many Palestinians I met were well educated in world-class institutions. Their general degree of education is shifting quickly though, due to the occupation.

    5) A strong agrarian sense: Far from beig ivory tower academic types, there is a strong sense of being connected to the land. They struck me primarily as an agrarian culture, although a well educated one. I got the impression, from many of them that they'd be happy to continue farming just enough to support going to school.

    6) I so wholeheartedly agree with your comment about not understanding "atheism". It seemed to be a concept difficult for them to get. In some cases, they thought it meant I was a communist, a concept they do understand. Although agnostic, I told them I was a Christian. It made conversations simpler. Contrary to what one may think, that didn't bother them at all - I got the impression that having no religion at all would have bothered them more than not being muslim - a sort of "You're christian, but that's your path, and that's cool too".

    7) They love to smoke tobacco via Argila pipe, drink tea, play cards.

    8) I agree about the sense of fatalism. I didn't see it to the point of irresponsibility, as you appear to have, but there was definitely a strong sense of "Que Sera, Sera".

    9) Worth mentioning again: A strong sense of family.

    10) My feeling, in general, is that Palestine is one of the more progressive Arab cultures. Although the occupation has strengthened some of the more extreme elements in Palestinian Society, I felt that in general, they were a fairly modern, progressive people, if not almost cosmopolatin. Granted, this is changing fast, as their society crumbles and suffocates under occupation.

    11) Tolerant of cripples/handicapped. Israel atrocities have left a great number of the population with different sorts of disabilities, and they all seem to take it in stride, working together as they can.

    Although not likely to happen, it would be very interesting if you were to work for a year in this culture. I wonder how much it contrasts to Saudi culture.

    Thank you for a very interesting read nonetheless.

  • At 4:25 AM, Blogger JINGOIST said…

    Daniel were you ther when they celebrated the murder bombing of any Israeli pizza parlors? Miss that? Hmmmm. How about any large celebrations where they honor the "martyrdom" of a semiretarded young man as he killed some Israelis whose only crime was boarding a bus to go to work.

    "Occupation" my rear end. These people embrace an evil that's hard to even wrap a civilized consciousness around. To say that this behavior is the fault of the Israelis is to infantalize the Palis.


  • At 10:29 AM, Blogger DT Strain said…

    "NotCrazy", I never said "Muslims are evil" and would never say such a thing. I said that in reference to "public executions, oppression of women, [and] theocracy." Please read more carefully.

    And yes, those things are evil. Fortunately, not all Muslims agree with them.

  • At 11:27 AM, Blogger NotClauswitz said…

    As another Anthro guy who lived and grew-up overseas in South Asia among Muslims and others, I have to agree.

  • At 3:46 PM, Blogger JINGOIST said…

    DT strain one quick thought about your last comment. Theocracy and female oppression are but a few of the many reprehensible aspects of Arab culture. Even the lefties concur on that one.
    But I LIKE the idea of public execution. Believe me when I tell you that it's a great deterant to premeditated capital crimes like murder or rape. I know it has a lurid stench, but I think more people should witness this. It's my opinion that the upside outweighs the down.


  • At 10:30 AM, Blogger drx1 said…

    As for the Western Civilization, I would say that yes, it is under attack by Muslims, but this attack is only a reaction; an effect. The action, the cause, is the Western aggression against Muslims to impose control over them and their oil. Long before 9/11 and 7/7, there was colonial Europe, there was Israel and there was the US's staggering support for this little terrorist state. How can you expect our civilization *not* to be attacked? It's a physical law that applies perfectly in this context: cause, and effect.
    I guess you fail to remember that most of the Mid East was either 'pagan', Chrisitan or Jewish before Mohammed the 'Messinger' went on his little Crusade and killed or converted the majority of religious people.

    Yes there are still Christians in Iraq ... and even Egypt, but they are - at best - second class citizens.

    You create a tiny terrorist state and support its human rights abuses, and you get retaliation attacks from an angry nation that never attacked us at all until we did. If the Western Civilization wants to avoid this enemy, it should stop sticking its nose in the affairs of the Middle East. The West can't have it both ways.

    The problem here is that the 'Arab Culture' is too good at playing the victim and the aggressor (at the same time). I would have to say, based on the many sources I read (even english language arabic ones!) that Palestine in is a backwards place that is bent on its own distruction.

    Its one thing to die for what you believe in, but an entirely other matter to suicide and kill bystandards for what you believe in. I remember a poll among Palistinians and most (67% or so) favored sending one of their children (preferrably a daughter) out with explosives to kill more children and bystandards ...

    clearly they have no sense of a future.

    I think the difference is in the West, the parent will defend their child or children if they can and until death - if needed... we'll even defend someon elses right to disagree - even a COMPLETE stranger and even (potentially) until death, but we wont start some 'peaceful organization' to help people with one hand then then blow up ourselves and others with the other hand.

    So anyway, maybe you should get your own facts straight, "Not Crazy" ... and while your at it, give back all those Christian and Jewish lands back!

  • At 4:25 PM, Blogger Xenophon said…

    Stop calling Muslim extremists "Islamists". They're just Muslims. Islam is Islam and its adherents are Muslims. Whether or not they kill you depends on your luck that day.

  • At 6:59 PM, Blogger CMinor said…

    Excellent post; thank you for the observations. Just to let you know, we have linked to it.

  • At 5:52 AM, Blogger JINGOIST said…

    Xenophon let me explain why people--like me--use the term "Islamists" instead of the generic "Muslims."

    We HAVE an enemy over there that wants us dead, converted or in a miserable state of dhimmitude. True, these are teachings straight from the Koran, but only a small percentage of Muslims have internalized these instructions and intend to carry them out. They seem to be content just to kill us for now and the same fate goes for the Israelis. Dhimmitude seems to be France's fate because they are a cowardly and weak people. But I digress.

    The people who cling to this particularly vicious brand of Islamic teachings are called Islamists and we are waging war on the bast-rds in Iraq and Afghanistan right now. The only alternatives are to turn tail and haul ass, which ensures more attacks and eventually a nuke in Chicago, or to declare war on all of Islam. Neither of these alternatives make ANY sense.

    It isn't just a matter of "luck" when it comes to fighting these animals. We improve our odds tremendously by seeking out and killing those who have sworn to do the same to us. Let the peaceful Muslims be.


  • At 1:26 PM, Blogger Ymarsakar said…

    People forget that it isn't just about the Islamic world and their troubles. If the Arab world was as screwed up as it is now or even more screwed it, none of that would matter if the West had a strong cultural identity, self-confidence, and honesty.

    But that is not the way it is here in the West. Even in America, or especially in America if you consider the source of domestic insurgency that is Hollywood, you will find people who want more immigration, who want more Muslims and more downtrodden, so that they can get more power. Shortsighted to a degree, because if extremists get too many in number, they will do a coup de tat, regardless of if the Democrats or Republicans are in power in the US. Same applies to Britain. There are inside agents already in Britain working against the nation of Britain.

    Let's say you isolate the Arab world. What are you going to do with the domestic insurgencies and revolutionaries that will always work with outside elements in order to destabilize the status quo and gain power for themselves? Execution, seize their properties, or just exile them with a military escort to Arabia and put a total air/land/sea blockade on the region?

    It is logistics that matter the most in determining whether a conflict is won or lost. So far, the Arabs have huge logistical gains, not only oil but the presence of their inside agents and cells working both covertly and overtly in the West. Organizations like CAIR, and their allies like the ACLU, are simply one example.

    You can not isolate your enemies, this is the 21st century we are in after all. It would be a bit ironic to criticize others for being backwards in time, and still holding to defunct theories of "islands" of "stability".

  • At 1:54 PM, Blogger Not Crazy said…

    Sorry, these are my last posts. I forgot to debunk the blog in my first ones.

    * The author says he went there with sympathy for Arab grievances. He's talking about heavy stuff, like Israeli war crimes and human rights violations, American sanctions that killed hundreds of thousands of innocents in Iraq, Western-supported tyrannical and oppressive Arab regimes, and so forth. That's commendable. It would really take something drastic to change your feeling from "sympathetic" to "they deserve it", right? Yes, this guy saw they didn't do maintenance, they didn't take pride in their jobs, voila, he's sympathetic no more.

    * The griever, Arab cause-sympathetic author displays amazing ignorance of what's happening there when he writes this: "we are going to have to hammer these people hard to get them to quit messing with Western Civilization". For all the questionable sympathy and experience he has, he doesn't know that it was Western Civilization that started the conflicts in the first place, creating Israel and supplying it with every weapon known to man, long before 9/11, 7/7 or any terrorist act.

    * He complains that no one asked him "What in your experience caused you to change your mind?", but if you were those people he's complaining about, would you really care what caused this person to change his mind? After all, you're dealing with someone who visited one country, stayed there for a short time, didn't even speak the language, and then talks about ALL Arabs, taking things as petty and almost non-existent as lame battle cries like "I'll stab you in the back" (which I'll get to later) and attributing them to "Arabs". Do you blame those who have little respect for the mentality of a stereotyper and generalizer, and one who's BEEN THERE no less?

    * "They're easy to like, hard to respect". Fair enough, why? They're "generous", "hospitable", nice. And? Well, they make you feel guilty for not buying their merchandise. So? Well, they love their family more than you do, so it's hard to respect them. Um, ok.

    * While it's true Arabs take pride in Islam and look at is as the sole source of self-worth in this life (at least many of them do), the author's contention on the cause of this is hilarious. Setting aside the "THEIR VALUES ARE PHONY" part and presenting fake respect for such an objective, unprejudiced and good-natured judgment, he thinks that the reason this tragedy takes place (i.e. them favoring Islam above all other factors of self-esteem) is because (1) they're not crazy about work and (2) they're in segregated society. What's EXCEPTIONALLY ironic here is that these two factors of Western self-esteem are EXACTLY what Arabs loathe and despise: (A) A Westerner who takes pride in his sexual escapades is seen by them as nothing more than a pig, living for little else than working his penis around. Taking pride in work and accomplishments *is* of certain importance to them, but not up to the point the author is castigating them for not living up to: they view obsession with work and careers as materialistic, shallow and missing the big picture, which - to them - is being a good Muslim by worshipping God and aspiring to the pleasures of the other life, not this one. That's why those suicide bombers don't think it's THAT big of a deal to eschew with this life in favor of the other one.

    Interesting point, the author is scoffing at "Arab" laziness by letting third world labor do all the jobs no one wants. Ah yes, "third worlders doing undesirable jobs", sounds familiar, doesn't it? Ponder more upon this thought and try to think which nation has that as an integral part of it as you zip through the Taco Bell drive thru to take an order from Juan or if you happen to strike a conversation with Miguel the toilet scrubber in your office.

    * The author's points on maintenance are true, surprisingly (the surprise part in that he got something right after all). Arab countries (especially non-oil ones) are truly backward when it comes to this. Maintenance is a luxury, and an unnecessary one to boot, even automobiles. The thought of taking your car out to the dealership for a day or two of maintenance sounds very weird and unfathomable to many of them. But to correct the author, when Muslims use the phrase "Insha'allah" (God willing) it's not to do with procrastination or putting things off, it's a command in the Qur'an not to take the future for granted and say "I will..." to describe what you intend to do in the future. Rather, you say "if God wills it", as yet another sign that this life is not guaranteed and is only temporary.

    * The "knife in the back" point is so utterly ridiculous that I don't where to start refuting it. First of all, Saudi Arabia is not the violent Zoo cities like New York and Miami are. No matter how long you stay here (and I've stayed for many years), it's near-impossible to see a fist fight, but verbal fights are less rare than that. However, of all the heated verbal exchanges I've witnesses, not *once* did I hear anyone using that "knife in the back" threat. Not once. Quite the contrary: they're "in your face" threats of kicking your ass, wiping the floor with you, etc. That's one they get past the vulgar cussing. Now, since these occasions are rare, and the author doesn't' speak Arabic, he yet found it within the bounds of sanity to judge not only Saudis, but ALL Arabs based on a once-in-a-lifetime phrase that was probably uttered in one time, one place, where he happened to be at the time, and generalize on ALL Arabs. Displaying even more ignorance, he claims that they'd do ANYTHING to get you to turn your back to them (in which case you might want to ask which environment he was in that allowed him to see so many fights), which is absurd enough as it is, but to further the cause of his ignorance, he claims this is "historically normal way of warfare" for Arabs/Muslims. Then he complains when people don't take him seriously. The first battle in Islam was fought between Muhammad and 300 of his followers against 1,000 Meccan polytheists. The second one was 1,000 Muslims against 3,000 polytheists. Again and again, Muslims/Arabs fought face to face (I feel silly trying to prove this, but against historical ignorance, I have no choice) and won many of them. Just read up on how the Islamic state conquered Byzantium and Persia. This is a no-brainer. It just proves my points right about this guy.

    * In conclusion, and in comment on the last point ("we cannot share a world in peace"), I think the author is right, for a completely different reason. He states aspects of Islam he doesn't like. That's his reason for not wanting to share a world with them. Fine, he's entitled to his opinion, but this simplistic view isn't the least bit realistic. Is there anyone in this world who likes all cultures and all religions in the world? No chance. You don't see them whining about it, though. Human cultures are innately distinct and radically different, so it's natural. Arabs/Muslims, however, just want to be left alone. The West won't let them. Israel, supporting oppressive Arab regimes, Iraq invasion, Afghanistan invasion, colonial Europe in the last century, you get the idea. When those aggressions spark a reaction from some terrorists who kill Western civilians on account of them, we get people like the author here who (ever-so-perplexed) ask, "Why do they hate us?"

    These are the main points the author got wrong. It's also a lesson for all else to be careful about believing everything and anything they read just because the person says, "Hey, I've been there, alright?"

  • At 6:45 PM, Blogger JINGOIST said…

    Concerning "Not Crazy", I thought Yasser Arafat was dead. Will someone give me the final word on that one? Go away Yasser! How pathetic.


  • At 11:31 AM, Blogger Ymarsakar said…

    I was reading a few pages in the book The Shia Revival. I blogged about it, and summarized most of the points that I picked up. I think if you are interested in understanding internal Iraqi politics, you might want to give it a read.


    As for "Observations on Arabs", I tend to see the Amish as people I don't like, but can respect. I could never like someone whose life philosophy is so different from my own. There would always be a barrier between me and them, because if I get too close, I will care so much that I will try to convince them to change their life style. Making both of us miserable.

    The Israelis are also of the same vein, too pacifistic by my standards, by far. Yet, they are not hypocrites, they believe in what they believe and fight for those beliefs. At least enough of them do.

    The Amish does the same thing, for their beliefs. They are willing to die and to carry it to the logical conclusion. They are willing to forgive all murderers for killing their children, as we saw recently. They are true believers. They do what they say they will do, they do what they say they believe in.

    You have to respect that, but I don't have to like it or agree with it.

  • At 10:17 AM, Blogger Vic said…

    This guy really gets it! This is brilliant! I have rarely seen so many comments hit the nail so completely on the head. Keep it up. This is an honest man.


  • At 10:17 AM, Blogger Vic said…

    This guy really gets it! This is brilliant! I have rarely seen so many comments hit the nail so completely on the head. Keep it up. This is an honest man.


  • At 4:07 AM, Blogger JINGOIST said…

    You're absolutely right Vic. Steve is now on my "must read" list. This was the best article I've ever read on Arab culture.


  • At 11:42 PM, Blogger TM (Jewlicious) said…

    Not Crazy is welcome to talk about Islam all he likes. I have no idea whether he's right or the author of this post is right, and don't feel I know enough to decide.

    I do know enough, however, to speak knowledgeably about Not Crazy's crazy assertion that Israel is a "terrorist state" or that it's the cause of the type of reaction we see in the Arab and Muslim world against the West.

    To remind you, long before there was a Jewish state, a semblance of a Jewish state or an overwhelming Jewish population in the Ottoman province of Palestine and then in Mandatory Palestine, there were already numerous violent attacks upon the minority Jewish population by the majority Arab Muslims. The attacks were vicious and deadly. They were so vicious, deadly and consistent that Ze'ev Jabotinsky developed his philosophy as a reaction to these attacks.

    In fact, what you call a "terrorist state" has been playing defense against countries with vast populations, vast land at their disposal and sometimes vast assets in comparison to Israel. In 1948, there were only 600,000 Jews in the entire state and they were attacked by six Arab armies including the local militias representing tens of millions.

    It has been that way all these years, and if Israel has had to arm itself to the teeth, it is simply because at no point can it allow itself to be at a strategic deficit to a number of armies attacking it simultaneously.

    In addition, removing General Assembly resolutions which have no international legal force, what UNSC resolutions is Israel ignoring? Certainly not 242 or 338. Certainly not 425.

    What you call terrorism is anything but. That's not to say that Israel is perfect. Far from it. But then again, it is a country that has been facing hostilities, wars and violent neighbors for decades even as it has built itself up.

    There used to be very few checkpoints. Now there are many. There are also many fewer successful suicide attacks. You can see a similar decline in attacks correlated with targeted killings of terrorists and militants. These are two tactics vilified by the NGOs in which you place so much stock - the same NGOs that attacked Zionism in Durban and therefore have no right to even speak about Israel again. Nonetheless, they do speak about Israel and attack these forms of fighting as if everything occurs in a vaccum or as if one can fight an enemy that uses their own and the enemy's non-combatants as a strategic weapon. One cannot.

    The fact that you tell us to read the report on Jenin by HRW is laughable. Jenin was exactly the place where Israel shone in its morality. To remind you, Israel had just suffered months upon months of increasing suicide attacks. In the month prior to entering Jenin, March of 2002, Israel lost 128 people to bombings and had several hundred injured.

    Only then did they enter places like Jenin, which were hotbeds for sending out bombers. First, however, the Israelis warned the locals to leave. That's right, first they WARNED the locals to leave, thereby opening themselves to having many terrorist flee and those who remained having plenty of time to prepare defenses. They prepared well. The Israelis then chose NOT to use artillery to soften Jenin, thereby also increasing risk to their soldiers. Then, instead of bombing it from the sky, in order to prevent destruction to homes, they sent in soldiers into an urban warfare situation where they would be at some disadvantage.

    Upshot? 23 Israeli soldiers killed, 30 Palestinian militants killed and 20 Palestinian civilians killed. That's right, fewer Palestinian non-combatants were killed in Jenin than Jews at the Park Hotel in a single suicide bombing a couple of weeks earlier. And the Israelis only began to bulldoze a small section of the town AFTER they lost 12 soldiers in one attack because they realized their moral fighting was costing them lives.

    As part of the post-Jenin propaganda war by the Palestinians, they actually put living, healthy people on stretchers to act dead. Yes, we have video. Then they started a mini-industry of films propagating lies about what actually happened.

    If this is what you call a "terrorist state," you are sadly deluded.

    And to the guy who lived in "Palestine" for a while, please stop blaming everything on the "occupation." Okay? Do a little research and you'll learn that Palestinian life expectancy, per capita income, infant mortality, number of educational institutions (they had no universities in 1967 and have six now) increased DRAMATICALLY after 1967. That's not to say there isn't suffering under Israeli military control, but let's not forget that the war the Israelis and Palestinians have been fighting started in 2000, was launched by the Palestinians after Israel offered them a state, and the Palestinians haven't let up since. Of course there are going to be repercussions. Witness their continuing Kassem rockets AFTER Israel left Gaza entirely. It took almost a year and a 1000 rockets before Israel retaliated, and then only after they killed soldiers and kidnapped Shalit.

    Maybe if the Palestinians focused on something other than attacking Israel, they would have many of the things you'd like them to have and blame on the occupation instead of their lousy leadership. Heck, they could have had a state for six years now.

  • At 9:58 PM, Blogger CoolOnTheHill said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • At 10:01 PM, Blogger CoolOnTheHill said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • At 10:02 PM, Blogger CoolOnTheHill said…

    I note NOT CRAZY first clearly knows what effect his rants will have on those that read them, at least with respect to their opinions of him, hence his choice of a username (i.e. not?crazy). Second, I note that he promised "LAST POST HERE" then came back with a much longer post, also implying that this time he was telling the truth, it really was to be his "last post here" this time, promise... yeahRITE just like last time. I'll admit I gave him an opportunity before making up my mind about him - I read his earlier posts - all of them - all the way through despite the fact they were obviously completely deficient in facts or logic from the word GO. I'll also admit I chose not to waste time & effort reading his "last" post (since he's BOUND to post another despite two promises, one already broken, that he would not, I'm referring to the one timestamped 1:54 pm). I did catch his claim that Saudi Arabia is not a violent place. Yeah, that's why they encourage people to blow each other up, build WMD out of fuel tankers and advocate a "convert or kill" philosophy. Non-violent my ass. He claims he's "been there". I wonder what drugs he was using at the time as he certainly clearly was as out of touch with reality then as now. Do you know the unspeakable violence that goes on out of sight there? What about the way they treat women? You don't classify that as violent? Well, do you classify making someone stand or sit in an uncomfortable position for a long period of time as torture? I thought so.


  • At 10:07 PM, Blogger CoolOnTheHill said…

    Multiple posts - new here, thought my post was being rejected - removed multiple posts once I realized. Also go here:


  • At 6:00 PM, Blogger Sean said…

    For me, the key part of the post was "We are going to have to hammer these people hard to get them to quit messing with Western Civilization." If lives are to be spared it is best that this is done asap...

  • At 9:15 PM, Blogger UltraSecond said…

    I would like to suggest a title to the blogger's original post: "Explorations in what happens when you fall asleep during cultural anthropology class, or 'how I learned to stop worrying and loathe the towelheads.'"

    It's nice to see that based on your extremely limited personal experience you can apparently intuit so much knowledge about an entire culture and its peoples. It looks like you really have it all figured out, Mr. ignorant westerner! I suppose you're next going to tell us that "the Chinese are very sneaky people!" after spending a few months in Asia.

    To whit:

    Racists don't think the way we do...I mean they REALLY DON'T THINK THE WAY WE DO!!!!

  • At 9:22 PM, Blogger UltraSecond said…

    PS - Caps lock apparently increases the credibility of your argument exponential to how fallacious your statement actually is.


    PPS - Bloggers don't think the way we do. I mean THEY REALLY DON'T THINK THE WAY WE DO!

  • At 9:33 PM, Blogger UltraSecond said…

    One final word before I part for the evening - it should be noted that the blogger is basing his opinion of Arab culture based on several months of being in Saudi Arabia.


    In other words he "understands" Arabs the way that culture-shocked white people who move to South Central LA or Detroit Michigan "understand" black people.

    Before I go, one more parody of the retardation present in his first of many horribly misguided 'points':

    Ignoramuses don't think the same way we do...I mean THEY REALLY DON'T THINK THE SAME WAY WE DO!!!

    See you in hell

  • At 6:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I think your observations and conclusions are incisisve and should be required reading for anyone trying to intelligently discuss the Middel East. Therefore, I have posted your "article" on my blog with reference to yours. If you have a problem with this. let me know.

  • At 2:46 AM, Blogger theunraveler said…


    i am from singapore and juz want to say that is a very well written piece of article. a little over a month ago i would think this article was racist but i think i am beginning to see ur viewpoint.

    juz becoz they can speak english doesnt mean they think like us. the free world cannot abide by their support of cowardly tactices like terrorism

    keep writing.

  • At 8:25 AM, Blogger The Graduate said…

    These observations are classic and have been around since mid last millenium. They are founded in a philosophy called orientalism by which westerners sought to define the arab east by contrasting it with the west.
    This is a big world and quite a bit of territory belongs to non-westerners and arabs. Buying into these observations will not help us move forward but draw us into siding with our own civilization and what we know causing Samuel Huntington's predictions to come.

    The largest barriers to overcome are ones which we have been socialized to hold as truths, both for westerners and arabs. For many of us these barriers will never be overcome and we will remain defiant and abhorred at another's way of live. If we allow ourselves to become complacent with our observations and defeated by the prospect of overcoming these barriers we will find ourselves taking safety behind the scopes on our m-16s or the power of our well established economies.

    THEY DON'T THINK LIKE US -- inherent in this comment is an assumed standard by which "the other" should be judged.

    Moreover the original post had a comment that was quite on point and that is Arab covers a vast landscape of peoples. By my experience it is almost certain that a person from Oklahoma would have a difficult experience in KSA. It is a shock and it would be very hard to deal with for "a WHOLE year" constantly longing to be back in the states and strenuously attempting to reform or re-socialize young arabs.

    Lets not define 'the other' in relation to ourselves. Let's not give hope of finding channels or levels on which civilizations can learn to live and work with each other.

    On Balance, if after spending one year in Jeddah one were to put "arabs" into one big category and judge them based on the values one was raised with in the bible belt, one probably would come to the same conclusions as our original ranter. There is no denying that. I hope he was able to release some steam after such a difficult year.

  • At 1:19 PM, Blogger Evanston2 said…

    Hey Chris, exactly who is "us?" Since it's evidently wrong for the author to distinguish between "our" and "their" way of thinking, exactly WHO are you talking about when you say "us?" And since you believe that the author is not qualified to speak about Arabs, having only spent 1 year in the middle east, please tell the readers how much time you have spent amongst Arabs. Exactly WHAT are YOUR qualifications to provide your advice? You also accuse the author of using a Bible belt standard, what's YOURS? Or are you somehow insulated from having a perspective, other than a general Kumbaya orientation? Overall, how about applying the measures you apply to others to yourself? Since you're so interested in being fair to "the other" then start with yourself: state specifically what you believe instead of some sort of vague prescription to "not give up hope." Better yet, go to AlSharqAlAwsat and make nice with "the other." I'm sure they could benefit from your wisdom. As long as you're not an evangelical Christian, Jew, Dutch, American, or homosexual you should return safely. Oh, don't get sick while you're there, since the "other" doesn't exactly have medical standards that meet our Bible belt bigotry.

  • At 1:51 PM, Blogger Evanston2 said…

    To Ultra2nd, the questions I just asked Chris apply to you as well. Explain what you believe in (if anything other than insulting people) based on what qualifications (since you find the author's qualifications insufficient for your "standards").

  • At 4:07 AM, Blogger Unknown said…

    "we have someone who visited an Arab country (out of two dozen)"

    non crazy, since you are so much more knowledgable about the arab world than the writer, perhaps you can point out the two dozen arab countries for the rest of us. Or maybe you should accept that it is you that has no idea of what you speak.

  • At 8:29 PM, Blogger Purple Avenger said…

    clearly knows what effect his rants will have on those that read them, at least with respect to their opinions of him

    For me to form an opinion on an (alleged) person, they gotta pass the Turing test first. This one doesn't, so consider it just another autorant-troll-bot running on some server somewhere.

    Show there's a few biological neurons firing somewhere and then I'll form an opinion

  • At 10:34 AM, Blogger Enigma said…


    I enjoyed reading the article and the comments that followed and I have some observations :
    1. If it is fair to believe that all westerns are sex maniacs, promiscuous and materialistic, it is fair to beleive that all Arabs are retarded and terrorists.

    2. If all Americans are Christians, then all Arabs are Muslims.

    3. If all Westerns are Americans, then all Arabs are Saudians.

    Generalization is considered "faulty thinking". I am not saying that to offend anyone. I have my own generalizations. It is a human inclination. It makes life look simpler if we can categorize and generalize. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth.

    4. "In the West, and America more than anyplace else, we have internalized the notion that everyone has a right to their own opinion, and that said opinion is perfectly valid for them".

    I would love to think so but I am wondering why people are calling each other names in their comments for simply expressing their opinions....e.g. crazy...pathetic...ignorant...see you in hell...etc.

    I think that this is not about either Arabs or Americans, this happens when someone links his ego to what he says or believes. In this we are all human.

    5. Romantic love: I agree with you that romantic love is desired and that there are still arranged marriages taking place. Although I am very much against arranged marriages yet the western culture hasn't proven to the world that marriages based on romantic love were better or lasted longer!! Look at the rates of divorce in a nation that emphasizes the need for love. Nevertheless, I would not go for an arranged marriage. It is my personal stand.

    6. Superstition: it is interesting that you commented on the simple heads that thought "jin" or ghosts were true. What about the tarot reading and fortune telling shops around every corner in the United States? What about the TV and newspaper ads? Although I am not a Muslim, I not infrequently hear muslims say "kathab al monagemoon walaw sadako"....meaning you should consider fortune tellers as liars even if they were telling the truth!

    7. In Shaa Allah means if God is willing....there is a misunderstanding about that...this is no excuse for procrastination. If this is true then how can you explain this bible verse:
    "Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that. As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil."
    James 4:13-16
    I do not know about your faith but if saying InShaaAllah "If God is willing" contributes to what you said earlier about being "hard to respect them" then you are also disrespecting all those who believe in the Bible in America.

    To tell you the truth I was not offended by anything you said other than your commenting on liking them but not respecting. It made me feel that you see an Arab as a clown or a puppy. By the way I like my dog and still respect him! I am sure Arabs are human beings.

    8. If you all wanna learn about Arabs, try to keep an open mind and hear from them.

    I am an Egyptian woman, 37, single, Christian and I am seen not infrequently "without a man". I speak both languages and love both countries. Reconciliation can take place I assure you. It just begins within.

  • At 2:44 AM, Blogger Unknown said…

    It will be extremely dangerous to stereotype you experience. Then you will be drawing absolutely wrong conclusions as up to recently the west thought the middle east to be as portrayed in the hollywood movies!!! Central, Northern & Southern Provinces being land-locked are the most isolated provinces. They have been connected by asphalted roads since 1965 only. So the culture is more isolated & tribal there than in the eastern & western provinces, which are more cosmopolitan, having more interaction with the rest of the world. In the former, the Islamic Law is modified with the tribal customs more because of isolation. In your analysis:
    "#1)They don't think the same way we do", their thinking is tribal because of isolation.
    "#2)When you meet them in just the right circumstances, they are a very likable people." The haggling is the tribal way of doing business; the Islamic way is with ease without haggling as the Prophet has said:"God has mercy on a person who is easy in buying & easy in selling".
    "#3)Their values are fundamentally different from ours, their self-esteem is derived from a different source." It is tribal pride as the Prophet of Islam(which professes absolute equality of mankind) has said:"My people have declined to leave 4 things from the Scornfuls of the Ignorance ('Obayy AlJahaliya' or the Pre-Islamic Period of Divine Ignorance): Bragging by the nobleness of their descent, belittling the lineage of others..."
    "4)Not only can they not build the infrastructure of a modern society, they can't maintain it either." Since up to 1976, 70% of the population was living in desert, only as per UN pilot Project of Haradh to settle the nomadic population to give them the service of school, hospital & other governmental services. The maintenance is not important in desert. The city-dwelling attitude has yet to be ingrained in.
    "5)They do not think of obligations as running both ways." Another manifestation of desert thinking because in the desert it is the clan which is the center of one's universe & his existence. In Islam agreements are obligatory & part of God's worship :"O Who have believed fulfill by your contracts...(1)[Q:5{The Cattle or 'Soorat Al-Anaan'}" as God says in the Prevailing Revelation of Koran.
    "6)In warfare, we think they are sneaky cowards, they think we are hypocrites." Again this is the pre-Islamic method of tribal warfare of 'AlKarr Wa AlFarr'{'The Attack & The Escape', while Islam introduced the method of battle in rows based on the Koranic Revelation: "Verily, Al-llah loves those who fight in His Way as a row as though they are a tightly-fit edifice(4)[Q:61 {The Row or 'Soorat AsSaff'}].
    "7)In rhetoric, they don't mean to be taken seriously and they don't understand when we do". This is a stereo type again. You are mixing apples & oranges. Mediterranean are different & more verbal. Desert dwellers are exactly opposite, very eloquent & very compact conversion. The nature of desert imposes on them to survive with the bare minimum. Remember seven Moulaqaat, the 7 best poems of Pre-islamic times hung in Kaaba. Then God revealed Koran to challenge them, the most eloquent, the most precise & the most compact, unchallenged up to this day - The God's Word in human tongue.
    "8)They don't place the same value on an abstract conception of Truth as we do, they routinely believe things of breathtaking absurdity." This is because of isolation & media un-savvyiness, current affairs education being taken care now by newly sprung up satellite tv
    "9)They do not have the same notion of cause and effect as we do."
    Because of communication gap in media between the East & the West.
    "10)We take for granted that we are a dominant civilization still on the way up. They are acutely aware that they are a civilization on the skids." This realization sunk in the new generation since 1985,& the
    going back to the Islamic Roots Movement to revitalize the Islamic Civilization, by bringing back the Islamic Democracy Shoura System(which had been disabled since 40H{662CE}) & the Scientific Knowledge(which had gone out of the Islamic Civilization after the fall of Granada in 1452CE, the strength of the Islamic Civilization.
    "11)We think that everybody has a right to their own point of view, they think that that idea is not only self-evidently absurd, but evil." This mentality has developed because of the systems devised of the consequences of West's Balfour Declaration which denied the democracy in the region, so that the legality of it will not be challenged. This behaviour is contrary to the Islamic values of belief & thinking: Islamic Fiqha or Jurisprudence is based on solely on intellectual striving, freedom of thought & belief. This is what the new education system is trying to correct.
    "12)Our civilization is destroying theirs. We cannot share a world in peace. They understand this: we have yet to learn it." This is an absurd notion. Not Islamic. {God has sent down Islam to the world to build human civilization in human diversity on earth within the parameters of His Approval for a better life based on world justice, peace & brotherhood of humanity.} This is not representative at all & an absolute misread. This is a question of policy & not civilization. The Palestinians should be given their universal rights, that is the crux of the issue here. Why they are denied the fundamental rights by the West, everyone is flabbergasted here? Especially when the West claims they are the proponents for the universal human rights. This does not equate at all here. Can any one explain? The restitution of the Palestinian rights will be the solution for the peaceful co-existence!!! Lets join hands to bring peace to the world - the world joint-venture.

  • At 12:12 PM, Blogger Unknown said…

    Steve: You've been hijacked:


  • At 6:57 PM, Blogger BlueParrot said…

    I have read and possibly understood the comments here. I notice that there are several defenses or attacks mounted on generalities, perceived or expressed, by one side or the other. I feel that these generalization defenses, or attacks, seem to detract from the debate. It would seem that no individual is representative of their collective population.

    I thought maybe that the original article did fine job of pointing out and noting some cultural contrasts that helped me understand some of what I see in the various reports and incidents regarding our cultural differences. Like tools, these contrasts must be used at the right time and in the right way. They are after all, just tools, not absolutes to be used at every turn.

    What was written here is a great help to me. My studies on the cultural conflict at hand will continue with a few more thoughts that I didn't have before.

  • At 1:05 AM, Blogger mavepusteren og mavepusterinden said…

    this article is as racist as it gets. This "scientist" should stop studying "mein Kampf"

  • At 10:18 AM, Blogger Steve said…

    And again, and again and again for the umpteenth time. Who ever said Arabs were a "race"?

    It's culture and upbringing we are talking about here - which I suspect that you know quite well.

  • At 4:00 PM, Blogger ann said…


    And wow.

    The blogger espouses views that help me understand why Arab intellectuals decry Western philosophy.

    I'm a western woman living in a Middle Eastern country. That doesn't make me particularly qualified to speak about the ME, but it certainly qualifies me to say:

    I started reading the original post with a huge amount of empathy. But way before he 'did a runner' I realised that there are only two words to describe his views.



    Not Crazy: Brilliant posts, and I agree on almost all fronts. However, I get a sense that you support suicide bombing.

    Please tell me this isn't true?

    I mis-read you maybe?

  • At 11:02 AM, Blogger Steve said…

    Hoo-boy! I guess you're going to hate this post then:


    It's my interview with Dr. Ali Alyami, director of the Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia - and a man not afraid to take a dangerous stand under his own name.

  • At 11:26 AM, Blogger sirbarrett said…

    I was looking for an explanation as to why shoes are a weapon of choice for Arabs culturally, as with the example this past week of Zeidi the journalist hurling his pair at Bush in Iraq. I came across this instead, which I recall reading in a forward email awhile ago. The second read was well worth it for some insights.

    As an Anthropologist, you don't have any explanations for me do you?

  • At 6:21 AM, Blogger Steve said…


    This question was so thought-provoking, I blogged about it. Please go to the current post, it looks like it might shape up to an interesting discussion already.

  • At 7:20 AM, Blogger Chris Bering said…

    Steve is, among other things, accused of generalizing about arabs, based on a years worth of personal experience.

    Here's another person generalizing, but based on a bit more experience...


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