A VOICE FROM THE MIDDLE EAST: LISTEN

Libyans studying dentistry sit for an exam at Al fatah University in Tripoli June 30, 2011. REUTERS/Louafi Larbi (LIBYA - Tags: POLITICS EDUCATION) - RTR2OAM3

 

Taking a break from the hurly burly news cycle of domestic politics, it might be good to look at the wider world and the assumptions Americans tend to make about the chaotic Middle East and what, if any, the U.S.’s future role should be there. ISIS, Muslim extremists and stereotypes continue to haunt the American view of the region, from the expertocracy on down to the person in the street. So here we offer a gentle riposte to stereotypes from a hypothetical  educated Middle Eastern woman who wants us to examine our assumptions.

 

 I am Aysha, not my real name, a doctoral student at the American U. in Cairo. I have lived 18 of my 31 years in the West as a diplomat’s daughter. I know New York, Washington, Ottawa, Chicago and Canberra. The men there are not bad. The ones I met at McGill and Princeton are almost as smart as I am. Enough about me.

I will call the following, “A Few of My Impressions and a Few Things You Should Know About Muslims and the Middle East,” as seen by one educated young 21st century adult. There are plenty of sites on the Web about “Why Muslims Hate Us” and the like. Try: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2012/09/21/why-do-they-hate-us-its-a-pretty-long-list/

 But this is more personal. These are my observations, a few:

   As a Rule (and all of the following can be prefaced by ‘As A Rule’), Muslims from Morocco to Afghanistan, Sunni, Shi’a, Wahabi, Alawite, share in common a desire to be in control of their countries and region. We have big problems and are diverse— from Taliban and Hezbollah to wannabe transplant Westernized intellectuals. But we resent the US/EUR spectrum of attitudes that somehow we need to be taken care of, that “West knows Best”

  1. We know you mean well, and we do not speak with one voice, and we have appreciated those with good will who have arranged cease fires, Camp David, and other agreements. We have not appreciated numerous wars and such assistance as the Iraq War, patronizing of Arab Palestine, relentless support for Israel, Sykes-Picot, no fly zones, embargoes that starve children, you know the drill,

2. We in this region have our faults, but note that our alcoholism and drug use is far below yours, overall our cities are safer—but watch those pickpockets—our suicide rate far lower, many of us prefer the Koran to psychiatrists, and our extended family support system (your term) is something you might envy

 3. Yes our leaders are often corrupt and bull-headed. I supposed we have more Political prisoners per 1 million of the population, but with a few exceptions we cannot compete with 3 million American inmates for a country of 320 million people. Pretty impressive. 1 in every 100 Americans is in prison. If you know 100 people, then statistically, you know someone behind bars.

4. Yes some of our zealots—sometimes angry at your attitude about and disrespect for Islam—have done some crazy things and the 9/11 spectacular was surely one of them. But in Iraq alone from 2003 to 2010 you got some nice revenge with a low-ball estimate of 156,339 dead civilians. Just Us. https://www.iraqbodycount.org/

 

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