Arabs and America

Below, I lifted something from the Wall Street Journal (01/26/12) as an attempt to influence my friend Prof. Amburgey, a frequent visitor to this blog. This shortish quote is also intended for the many conventional libertarians I know who have bought the Leftist tale of the world’s horror of America and of the particular hatred Arabs, specifically, feel for this country.

The author, “Ed” Hussain, appears to be a Muslim since his first name is “Mohammed.” He is a British author. As the beginning of the article from which I lifted this piece indicates, Mr Hussain can probably read Arabic. He has an MA in Middle-Eastern Studies and he studied in Damascus. (This info is available in Wikipedia.) In this piece, he writes from Cairo.

The Arab revolutionaries did not look to China or Russia for a model of government. They looked to four-year presidential terms, inspired directly by American democracy. Islamist leaders such as Tunisia’s Mohamed Ghannouchi condemn French secularism but highlight American accommodation of religion as a model of a secular state that is less hostile to religion. Across the Arab world, satellite dishes face west. Hollywood films, McDonald’s, Starbucks, Jeans, Baseball caps, Facebook and Twitter are the widespread norm.

Even those Egyptians who shout anti-American claptrap – the Muslin Brotherhood and their Salafist cousins– crave meetings and photo-ops with visiting American politicians, such as Sen. John Kerry recently. The seek an American stamp of approval that bestows legitimacy, modernity, and association with global power. Without it, they remain pariahs.”

There is nothing new to me in those observations. I have been saying the same things for years. It’s good though to have another person, one with much better specific credentials than mine, say it aloud.

Arabs don’t hate us. A great many of of them just want to be us.

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About Jacques Delacroix

I am a sociologist, a short-story writer, and a blogger (Facts Matter and Notes On Liberty) in Santa Cruz, California.
This entry was posted in Current Events, Socio-Political Essays. Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to Arabs and America

  1. thecrackshotcrackpot says:

    And the less we bomb, sanction, and invade their states, the more they will continue to look to us as a proper model of governance.

    Don’t you see the damage Washington has done to liberal democrats in the Middle East by pompously trying to “re-make” the region in their image?

    • jacquesdelacroix says:

      To Crackpot

      Again: You are a libertarian – one who wants to abolish the state at home – with a high regard for the states of others. How can this be?

      • thecrackshotcrackpot says:

        I don’t have a high regard for foreign states. I just recognize the fallacy in arguing for a stronger domestic state to better crush a foreign one.

  2. David says:

    I BELIEVE THIS IS A RESPONSE TO CRACKPOT’S COMMENT. (JD SPEAKING)

    I would disagree with you on that note. Some of our better friends were once our bitter enemies that we invaded, blockaded, carpet bombed and nuked into submission. (Read: Germany and Japan.) We kicked the English off our continent and they’re probably our most stalwart ally today. So, based on historic precedent, I would argue that your premise is faulty. If anything, I would argue that carpet bombing a country into oblivion, breaking down the will of the populace force them to confront the futility of their beliefs. Which can change minds en masse with more success than any other method i’ve heard of to date. Once they’ve come to grips with the wrongness of their beliefs then they’re open to changing, even if it takes time. So long as they’re able to cling to the belief that they’re chosen by Allah to destroy the Great Satan, they will hate us. To win, we must destroy their ability to believe that, we must force them to know that that belief is wrong and that they may live if they renounce such beliefs, permanently. It’s ugly and a horrible use of life, but people, in such large numbers, will not change en masse unless brought to the brink.

    • thecrackshotcrackpot says:

      We never kicked the English off the continent, and the Japanese and German states declared war on us. They got what was coming to them.

      I think you missed the point of Delacroix’s post: Arabs do not hate the United States. Just like every other nation on the planet, they recognize the radical idea that the republic stands for (“the dignity of each and every individual”), and they are in awe.

      What they do loathe is the presence of our military on their soils. This is why Islamists continue to get the votes of the Arab people.

      • jacquesdelacroix says:

        Keep going, Crackpot; you are doing great for me.

      • David says:

        First off, yes my post was a response to crackpot.

        Secondly, you knew what I meant. The colonists removed the English’s political and physical control of the colonies. Don’t play stupid with me. If you truly didn’t know what I meant…well…I don’t know what to say. I didn’t miss the point of JD’s post at all. I was responding to your comment. So I suppose it’s possible you truly didn’t know what I meant when I said that we kicked the English off our continent. Though I’m almost surprised you didn’t take issue with me for saying “our continent” when we didn’t “own” very much of it.

        Thirdly, Islamists loathe our very existence. They hate any values or ideas that don’t line up with their interpretation of the Koran (Quran?) They get votes often times because they are the most organized groups in the areas. Arabs follow the Islamists partly out of fear of the Islamists and partly out of a complete lack of reasonable and organized opponents. In addition the Islamists also keep the prominence of Islam very high in public life, and, by and large, Arabs put a large amount of importance on their religion. (Think Christians and the Holy Roman Empire in medieval Europe). Though a larger number of Arabs are beginning to actively want and desire what we have…namely freedom. And they are starting to act upon it. Oddly enough the Islamists are killing Muslims, which i’m pretty sure is forbidden in the Koran.

      • jacquesdelacroix says:

        Thanks. David. Please start off with specification of who or what you are addressing. Thank yo in advance.

  3. Bruce says:

    They may never like us. We’re still a rich and prosperous free country, despite Obama’s efforts. I hope they respect us. There are various ways to get that respect, it depends on who you’re dealing with. Some only understand violence, others can be convinced in peaceful ways. Why not use a balanced approach? I think deep down that they’re jealous of the West. The ones who make it to the US like it fine. They like Walmart, McDonalds and Levis as much as we do. They go to the worship services and don’t have to worry about suicide bombers. There is one thing that they seem to like about us regardless where they are- Arab men like plus size blonds. There I said it.
    I think the future looks like an emphasis on surgical strikes by special operations forces instead of boots on the ground. The leadership will not like this, but the oppressed population will come around. Especially after they have enjoyed a hummus Big Mac at their local Super Wal Mart in Tehran. I know it will take time.

  4. Terry Amburgey says:

    I appreciate your point Jacques. I guess I share a failing with the media [not just the lame-stream media] and overlook the mundane while attending to the unusual. As a consequence of living in a multi-ethnic & multicultural metropolis I have 2 muslims and 2 hindus in my house frequently [unfortunately I can’t claim them as dependents for taxes]. My only concern is that cooking halal means I don’t get pork nearly as often as I’d like. But my mundane interactions with muslims and other non-christians tends to get overshadowed by exceptional events such as the ‘honor killings’ in the news these days.
    On the one hand is a father that [to my analysis of the evidence] murdered his daughters and wife and [on tape] called them whores whose graves should be shit upon. On the other hand are literally millions of muslims that have lives and worries just like mine and get just as pissed off when the subway isn’t running. I spend too much time on the former and not enough on the latter.

    • jacquesdelacroix says:

      And what might your point be, Terry?

      How is this a response to something about how Arabs look up to the US? Did you read it?

      And, by the way: Canadians can brag all they want about their multicultural metropolises but everyone know they are the same old parochials who can’t help but dream about escaping for a weekend to the US where is action is! That includes Muslims.

  5. thecrackshotcrackpot says:

    David,

    Is Canada part of the North American continent or not?

    Islamists may loathe the Western way of life, but that does not explain their popularity at the polls. I don’t think their organizational skills are better than those of the liberals who orchestrated the protests in Egypt and Tunisia.

    Likewise, I don’t think that Arabs just woke up one day and decided that they wanted the freedom that Westerners enjoy. The Islamists have been advocating freedom (from “foreign influence”) for decades now.

    • jacquesdelacroix says:

      Crackpot: As I have told you before, it is not the case that the Arabs woke up one fine day and blah,blah. Rather, the Arabs of Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Yemen woke up one day and said: The dumb-ass peasants in Iraq can vote for their government. Why can’t we?

      The was the Bush’s gang calculation when they engaged the US in this war of choice and it worked quite well though not exactly as planned. The gestures of freedom are contagious especially when they are enacted by those who are a lot like you. I mean y this that Norwegians are more likely to imitate Swedes than Argentinians (except for the tango, of course).

      • thecrackshotcrackpot says:

        A nice theory, but a bit too far-fetched for me (that says a lot, by the way!).

        I might believe you if most of the globe wasn’t also experiencing unrest on a fairly large scale. “It’s the economy, stupid.”

    • jacquesdelacroix says:

      Canada is part of the North American continent. It’s a US dependency like Puerto Rico.

    • David says:

      According to some in my last geography class…no; however, I do happen recognize the [sic] United Provinces of Canadia as existing on the North American continent. (Tongue planted firmly in cheek for the last half of that sentence.) And I never said they just rolled over on the other side of the bed and said , en masse, “I want to vote like the Americans!” I said that more and more Arabs are developing a desire to have it and starting to act on it.

      In addition to the Islamists being free from foreign influence, they also have been advocating a worldwide caliphate, the subjugation of all non-muslims, and the prevalence of Sharia Law for many centuries. So I don’t see leaving the Islamists to their own devices as being a good thing in the long-term. And they’re just gonna have to get over the whole foreign influence bit…it will never go away. Not in the age of internet. Not with the 24/7 news cycle. And besides…influencing other nations is what nations do, regularly and repeatedly.

      • jacquesdelacroix says:

        This is my contribution to helping David educate Crackpot. Dear Crackpot: Surely Hamas is “Islamist.” Right? If you think it is see its charter, linked to this blog. Last few pages tell you what Hamas would do with Christians and Jews if they had their way.

  6. thecrackshotcrackpot says:

    Now now fellas, I never said that Islamists were good, upstanding people. I said that they get the Arab vote because they are the ones publicly bitching and moaning about the presence of Western troops on their soils and the presence of Western money behind Arab dictatorships.

    Just to be clear: on the one hand you rightfully argue that Arabs want the same freedoms that we enjoy. On the other hand, you rightfully point out the bad things that islamists want to do to people.

    Why are Islamists getting the Arab vote?

    • jacquesdelacroix says:

      Relevant question, Crackpot. I wish t answer it but it will take some time I don’t have now. First, consider the possibility that your own answer may be wrong, irrespective of the validity of the answer others provide. Get it? It’s not always the case that any substantive answer is preferable to no answer. Often, the honest answer is: “I don’t know.”

      Here is the summary of the answer that I will develop one of these days: People in general turn to what they know. Though they have inchoate regard for democracy and a longing for our intellectual freedom, Muslims in general ,including Arab Muslims, turn to what they know when they want a systematic answer to life’s problems as in revolutions. The only systematic answer they know in large numbers is Islam. The Arab world is ignorant and uncultured for its own reasons. Many Muslims who are no Arabs are also ignorant by reason of linguistic isolation. The exception that “proves” (tests) this generalization is the case of he many Indian Muslims who know English such as __________________ (Fill in the blank; this quiz will be graded.)
      I am only saying that you can’t turn to Jefferson or to Voltaire (or to Montesqieu, Crackpot!) when you have barely heard of them.

  7. Hahah! I cannot argue with your imagination, Dr. J…

    Islamic terrorism directed against Western targets is caused by Western military occupation. Rebut it or accept it, but please stop saying that Arab Muslims are ignorant and uncultured on one hand and with the other point to libertarians are cry out “racists!” and “isolationists!”

    You’re making yourself look bad, dude. Real bad.

    • jacquesdelacroix says:

      Please, refrain from cheap shots or show evidence. Where did I ever ay that Arabs or Muslims are ignorant and uncultured?

      Your claim about the causes of Islamist terrorism if absurd on its face: Islamist extremists massacre mostly Muslims because there is a 500-strong American military mission in Saudi Arabia at the invitation of the same Saudis who are guardians of the holy places of Mecca and Medina?

      Prize your credibility. It’s your main form of wealth.

      • Hahaha! DUDE!!! Like I said, I cannot argue with your imagination. Your statement on Arab Muslims being uncultured and ignorant is right above my statement lambasting you for calling Arab Muslims ignorant and cultured on the one hand and pointing with the other at libertarians and crying out “racists!” “isolationists!” Here it is:

        The Arab world is ignorant and uncultured for its own reasons. Many Muslims who are no[t] Arabs are also ignorant […]

        You are also in the habit, lately, of building up tall straw men and then burning them down in the hopes that curious townspeople will be drawn towards your fire:

        Your claim about the causes of Islamist terrorism if absurd on its face: Islamist extremists massacre mostly Muslims because there is a 500-strong American military mission in Saudi Arabia at the invitation of the same Saudis who are guardians of the holy places of Mecca and Medina?

        This is not what I said. It is not even close to what I said. I said Islamic terrorism directed against Western targets is caused by Western military occupation. I am aware that Islamists murder mostly other Muslims.

        Yet Islamists still get the Arab vote because Muslims are uncultured and ignorant? And the United States is in Afghanistan because Islamists murder mostly other Muslims?

        You are insulting the intelligence of your readers agaaaaain…

      • jacquesdelacroix says:

        Good quote Brandon. Thanks for jogging my memory. I shouldn’t have reacted so early in the morning. At any rate, I was wrong.

        I was referring to two things: One.there are very few books translated from any language into Arabic. That makes for lack of culture and for ignorance (pretty much the same thing in this context.) The internet is slowly making up for the dearth of information in Arabic. Two, many Muslims think that the Koran is an absolutely superior source of knowledge. This belief induces smugness and a lack of intellectual curiosity among Muslims that is uncommon among contemporary Christians. I am not nearly smart enough to have formulated this idea myself. It was suggested to me by Muslims on three different occasions, individuals who did not know each other. Once this was pointed out to me, it became obvious. Take it or leave it or check for yourself.

        On the causes of Islamist terrorism, let me make sure I understand: Violent jihadists murder Muslims for one set of reasons and they murder non-Muslims for another set of reasons. Right?

  8. I concur that many Muslims share the sense of smugness that you write of, but this in itself is not a reason to bomb, invade, and occupy their lands in the name of democracy and openness.

    As to your very, very good question:

    On the causes of Islamist terrorism, let me make sure I understand: Violent jihadists murder Muslims for one set of reasons and they murder non-Muslims for another set of reasons. Right?

    No. Islamists murder people of all stripes because of a lust for power and prestige – just as Washington does. Islamic terrorist attacks committed against Western targets are done so because of the presence of military troops or money that is provided to secularist dictators and hard-line monarchists alike.

    As we both know, and as a subject of this post, Arabs by and large love the idea that the United States represents. However, it is hard for people to defend a foreign state that has been bombing, starving, and supporting dictatorships in the Muslim world for nearly half a century – even in the face of far more brutal murders being committed against Muslims by other Muslims.

    Faced with the option of voting for a “foreign-tainted” leader who is prone to abusing a person, or with a local leader who is prone to abusing a person, it should not be hard to deduce why the Arab voter would the latter over the former.

    • jacquesdelacroix says:

      What can I say? Yes, I agree that their smugness if not a reason to bomb people. (If it were, American academia would be devastated.)

      I hesitate to ask what makes you think I think otherwise because, sometimes you know my writing better than I do.

      I don’t always respond to your comments because often, they don’ seem addressed to anything I said. Often, I agree with them. When I don’t agree, we are so far apart that I cannot put my energy into it. Here is one: Islamists don’ hate American because of the bad things Americans have done to Muslims. If they did, they would eave Sweden and Spain alone, for an example. If they did, France would be very high on their list of targets and it’s evidently not.

      I am sorry but much of what you asserts seems to me to be inspired by doctrie with only slight connections to the history I know.

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