Welcome to PatsFans.com

Good Borders make good neighbors?

Discussion in 'Political Discussion' started by PatsFanInVa, Jul 7, 2007.

  1. PatsFanInVa

    PatsFanInVa PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2006
    Messages:
    20,173
    Likes Received:
    228
    Ratings:
    +344 / 6 / -8

    With apologies to Frost, and anybody pun-offended, here are some passing observations:

    Some Saturdays, I see a group of people at a local Borders book store in the DC area. The "regulars" have been a Christian Palestinian, myself, a Greek guy who sort-of worships the pagan gods and thinks monotheism is the root of all evil, and a female musician in the army band. For about the last year an older woman (a doctor who's become somewhat radical about the medical establishment), and two Arab Muslims have been stopping by. I mention that because it is basically a multicultural group, although I will also mention in passing it's not "representative," nor does anyone think it or claim it to be. I don't think we have fundamentalists of any faith there, for example, although we have moderates from all three major branches of monotheism. We don't have radical militants, although we have voices from both America and the Arab world... we've had plenty of spirited discussions (especially as regards Israel,) but nobody proceeds from the idea that the state must be destroyed. I hope this briefly paints the picture.

    The subject of Wahhabism (or Salafism, some insist,) came up, as well as the form of Islamist creed in Pakistan... which led to this observation:

    Our Muslim friends pointed out that, out of Sharia societies, Muslims tend to assimilate to Western ways (for example, in Europe or in America.) They even made mention that the bridge from Saudi America into Bahrain is called the "Paradise Bridge," because of the pleasures available in Bahrain. Evidently the bridge is quite popular with Saudi young people.

    Now granted, this report comes from people who are currently living in the West, and by choice. But it jibes quite well with Jewish experience in the U.S. -- that strict observance is called into question by the very envelopment a laissez-faire environment supplies. But moving along...

    Pretty much all the foreign nationals speak of a great deal of cynicism when U.S. policy is predicated on "democratizing" the Middle East. The perception, as they explain it, is that "Democracy" seems to mean "electing people Washington likes," whereas "electing people Washington doesn't like" will result in the U.S. punishing "faulty" electorates. And yes, the U.S. occupation in Iraq is unpopular with these guys.

    Surprisingly to me, they say that they feel very little prejudice here, as compared with in Europe. Their perception is that we're a country of immigrants, and we assume different kinds of people will be here. It is worth noting, of course, that the individuals in question speak excellent English, but I was surprised anyway; they're definitely identifiably Arab, and don't say they're "singled out" often (at least outside of airports.)

    Sometimes reading these pages on Patsfans I think we're losing that basic fairness... but then I remember people react to people as people, when they actually interact, and are much more comfortable going after groups, when those people aren't actually around. Or maybe it's just a self-selected group of do-gooder, city-dwelling liberals these guys have been around. Whatever.

    Last observation on the part of the guys in question...

    Evidently, we the people of America, are still thought of as fair, open, and generous, according to these individuals. There is an understanding too that when we "give", there are strings attached, and that often more of what's given goes to leaders' pockets, than gets to the people. But the people perceive that, after the former colonials (Britain and France,) the U.S. is the greatest source of largesse they have.

    So the perception of our generosity and fairmindedness as a people is still pretty high, according to this anecdotal account... but our leadership is another story.

    I don't know how much to make of it, to tell you the truth. I'm obviously talking to educated, travelling-class people, people who think the extremism we hear so much of is a distortion of Islam (much as both Protestants and Catholics here might view Northern Ireland ten years ago, for instance.)

    People certainly knocked the war, no doubt about it. But these guys were very pro-American, in terms of the freedom they felt here, their fondness for the people, etc.

    Sometimes I wonder how far a few thousand more coffee shops in the right places would go. But it's not the coffee shops, it's the prejudices we harbor keeping us in separate shops or bars or wherever we go.

    I just thought it was worth mentioning, since we get lots of would-be "brass tacks" descriptions of these societies here... which never jibe with what few first-hand descriptions I hear.

    It's far from representative, of course... but it encourages me that there are those who can see the strings attached to American government interaction, but also see the advantages... who see that the elites pocket the most, but who are neither planning to personally profit from it, nor scream for a jihad... to see that by and large (from their account,) people are people.

    It means to me that the world keeps turning, and we'd much rather get along, when there is a cup of coffee to be had and the freedom to just talk, than bloody blow each other up.

    Well guys, enjoy whatever you make of this, pro or con.

    PFnV
  2. wistahpatsfan

    wistahpatsfan Rookie

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2005
    Messages:
    15,672
    Likes Received:
    11
    Ratings:
    +11 / 0 / -0

    I wonder how much of these perceptions are due to the fact that these guys are of the educated, travelling class of their societies. Unfortunately, many of their peers, either nationally, religiously, or vocationally, don't share their social status, and are left in the lower strata of their groups to do the grunt work, suffering, and bear the resentment of their parents. It would be nice if everyone were equally enlightened, travelled, and otherwise educated but, as we know, they aren't. The problems come from the bottoms of all the world's barrels, and there are always those in power more than willing to let them do their bidding.
  3. Harry Boy

    Harry Boy Look Up, It's Amazing PatsFans.com Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2005
    Messages:
    39,169
    Likes Received:
    128
    Ratings:
    +353 / 1 / -9

    Jackie Onnasis always said "there's them and there's us"
  4. DarrylS

    DarrylS PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2004
    Messages:
    41,025
    Likes Received:
    109
    Ratings:
    +190 / 7 / -23

    I used to work with some muslims and we had some muslim vendors there also who did some youth work, while I did not care as it was a personality thing and always believed that there should be a clear definition of church and state, but their message of making youth lives better was obvious and not allowing personal pity to interfere with their goals. After 9-11 they made great efforts to try to explain that those who were involved were extremists and not the run of the mill folks never found them to be too extreme, and the focus was on finding kids meaningful work and not accepting the status quo that is expected of many of our inner city kids.

    The other day I stopped on a really hot day in a Dunkin Donuts to get an iced tea, in front of me were two women and one of their daughter's with head scarfs, long sleeve shirts and long jeans.. thought must be hard to be a muslim woman in hot weather. Have to respect that their faith is not part time sunday thing, and a lifestyle for all the world to see.. much different than what we are used to in america. Then I was in a big box store saw a woman dressed the same and her husband dressed in flip flops, shorts and a t shirt.. then I thought what a whacked out religion this is.. the poor wife must have been sweating her butt off while her hubby was chillin. While I am pretty tolerant, have to say I do not understand the whole thing, every time I think I do a wicked curve gets thrown at me.
  5. PatsFanInVa

    PatsFanInVa PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2006
    Messages:
    20,173
    Likes Received:
    228
    Ratings:
    +344 / 6 / -8

    Can't speak to how uncomfortable that stuff is to wear, but I will say we should note that these guys are from countries that get 120-130 degree weather in the summer, so they've thought it through at least a little. The "must be sweating their butts off" material is actually really lightweight (I believe cotton.) They just cut it to hang very loose and wear lots of it.

    Interesting factlet: Al Qaeda first complained about the US via symbol (note how they have been fans of attacks on symbols, consistently.)

    In 1991, there was a real coalition for the liberation of Iraq. This included many of the states in the region -- Arab states. In that framework, you could not be against the war.

    But you could be against armed U.S. servicewomen, walking around with their heads and faces uncovered, strutting in front of Islam's shrines to "guard" said holy places.

    Leave aside the "wrongness" of thinking that's "wrong." Just think: You have a religion whose public face is in part represented by covered women. To "protect" that religion/its state and home, the U.S. sends in uncovered women, and parades them in front of the religion's holy places.

    So, we created a symbol for Al Qaeda to focus anger at. And that was their first surge of popular interest, from what I understand.

    Not saying this "answers" the dilemma of modern societies embracing sharia law... it just helps frame the context of that question.

    PFnV

Share This Page

unset ($sidebar_block_show); ?>