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Old 10-09-2007   #1
Jedburgh
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Default Do We Hate America? The Arab Response

Arab Insight, Fall 2007 (The entire issue in one 140 page pdf file)

Individual articles:

Confusing Hearts and Minds: Public Opinion in the Arab World

Media Matters: The Arab Portrayal of the United States

From Alexandria to New York: Uncle Sam in Egyptian Cinema

Y do U H8 us ? Arab Online Forums Examined

“It’s Israel, Stupid!” A Source of Anti-Americanism

Money Can’t Buy Love: USAID Assistance to Egypt

Lessons from Libya: How to Make Friends with Arabs
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Old 10-23-2007   #2
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I'm an Arab however i do not hate America. However, I have disagreed with their past decisions which i believe ultimately lead Iraq into the current mess.

I would love Iraq to develop on the American model rather than the ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia model where funding terrorism is occuring as we speak.
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Old 10-24-2007   #3
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After the 9/11 attacks, and given the ignorance that does exist amongst some of our people and given our numbers ( approx. 290 million at the time), the very few assualts on Muslims and muslim property clearly shows that the vast majority of people simply want to get along, provide for their families and have a bit of peace and justice in their lives. We are not nearly as Islamophobic as portrayed nor do the vast majority of Muslims hate us for being who we are.
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Old 10-24-2007   #4
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After the 9/11 attacks, and given the ignorance that does exist amongst some of our people and given our numbers ( approx. 290 million at the time), the very few assualts on Muslims and muslim property clearly shows that the vast majority of people simply want to get along, provide for their families and have a bit of peace and justice in their lives. We are not nearly as Islamophobic as portrayed nor do the vast majority of Muslims hate us for being who we are.
The problem is that many in the Arab world hear Pat Robertson and LTG Boykin and think they speak for Americans.

I will say this--I sometimes participate in a politics discussion board that is predominantly South Carolinians. Hence we get a lot of people who are from the Christian right. I've been aghast at how many of those truly do hate Muslims and are convinced that the conflict with Islamic militants is the beginning of armageddon. We can scoff at this attitude, but these people vote. When during the Republican debate this week, Mike Huckabee said, "The conflict with Islamofascism is the biggest threat our nation has ever faced" I fell off my chair. If that is not THE stupidest thing I've heard come out of a politician's mouth, it makes the top 10. For starters, I think the word "Islamofascism" is ridiculously ignorant. But then to contend that Islamic militants are a threat on the level with the Soviets, Nazi Germany, or the Confederacy is, in a word, asinine.

But my point is, this reinforces negative ideas in the Islamic world. As T.X. Hammes says, we provide all the psychological warfare themes that AQ could ever need.
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Old 10-24-2007   #5
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For starters, I think the word "Islamofascism" is ridiculously ignorant. But then to contend that Islamic militants are a threat on the level with the Soviets, Nazi Germany, or the Confederacy is, in a word, asinine.

But my point is, this reinforces negative ideas in the Islamic world. As T.X. Hammes says, we provide all the psychological warfare themes that AQ could ever need.
Steve,

You have nailed it, but, as you have pointed out, I fear the problem is that a large percentage of your countrymen do feverently believe in the hogwash that the religious right puts out about Islam (and other belief systems in general).

I know that we don't 'do IO' on our own folks, but if there was ever a case for a public education campaign in some quarters, this is it.

Cheers

Mark

Last edited by Mark O'Neill; 10-24-2007 at 12:23 PM. Reason: fix typo
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Old 10-24-2007   #6
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I'll come out and agree with Goesh about this in a broad way.

There's a lot of ignorance about Islam and Muslims out there in the US, no doubt about it. However, I think the broad majority of Americans are tolerant and openminded. We tend to get distracted by cable TV and radio ranters, who we must remember cater to a very small audience relative to the total American public.

This recent verdict provides an indication that American juries, for instance, are in no rush to judgment just because the defendants are Muslim and accused of terrorism.

The term "Islamofascism" is blindingly ignorant. Christopher Hitchens tries to argue otherwise here and just looks foolish.

Last edited by tequila; 10-24-2007 at 12:21 PM.
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Old 10-24-2007   #7
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Steve,

You have nailed it, but, as you have pointed out, I fear the problem is that a large percentage of your countrymen do feverently believe in the hogwash that the religious right puts out about Islam (and other belief systems in general).

I know that we don't 'do IO' on our own folks, but if there was ever a case ofr a public education campaign in some quarters, this is it.

Cheers

Mark
Mark and Steve,

Agree 100%. Unfortunately this has the aspect of control through fear based on ignorance common to this element. Last week I caught the leader of the Christians for Zionism movement on early morning CNN; same type of demonizing going on there.

Best,
Tom
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Old 10-24-2007   #8
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Default The Fine Line of Objectivity and Spiritual Purity

Science can be manipulated as easily as religion - objectivity backed with education (indoctrination?) is no gurantee of immunity from manipulating the masses for economic and political gain and reasons of ego. The big dump the pharmaceutical industry does on the gullible Public is proof of the pudding. There is money to be made from hatred and war and look not to the pulpit for the biggest villain in these matters. Ooooom!
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Old 10-24-2007   #9
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I know that we don't 'do IO' on our own folks, but if there was ever a case for a public education campaign in some quarters, this is it.

Cheers

Mark
But that's the crux of the matter both domestically and internationally: even if folks are hearing one narrative through "official" channels, if they're hearing another one at the church/mosque, it's pretty clear which will win out. To me, that's the reason I think our "information campaign" is doomed to failure--we offer the right to vote and a fast Internet connection; the other side offers an eternity in paradise.
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Old 10-24-2007   #10
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I'll come out and agree with Goesh about this in a broad way.

There's a lot of ignorance about Islam and Muslims out there in the US, no doubt about it. However, I think the broad majority of Americans are tolerant and openminded. We tend to get distracted by cable TV and radio ranters, who we must remember cater to a very small audience relative to the total American public.

This recent verdict provides an indication that American juries, for instance, are in no rush to judgment just because the defendants are Muslim and accused of terrorism.

The term "Islamofascism" is blindingly ignorant. Christopher Hitchens tries to argue otherwise here and just looks foolish.
My feeling is that American tolerance for Muslims is pretty shallow. I think we're one WMD attack in New York away from a pogrom.

Wow--I'm sure a spreader of sunshine this morning, aren't I! 409 pages in this danged manuscript and growing. I think it's going to kill me. I need to end this sabbatical and get back to the office so I can get some rest.
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Old 10-24-2007   #11
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Personally I think the percentage of Americans who "ferverently believe" the stuff the religious right puts out is relatively small. Do they answer the phone when pollsters call? Most likely; making them appear to be more of a factor than they really are. But I also tend to suspect that for some people the fear/hatred of Islam might come from a slightly different source than some have considered. Anyone remember the Nation of Islam? There were a fair number of black hate groups in the late 1960s going through to today that wrapped themselves in Islamic trappings. I think for some the "threat of Islam" resonates on a different level than the Middle East.

In any case, the press loves sticking a microphone in the face of someone who's going to say something to ramp people up...so long as it's the 'right' people being ramped up. And I mean 'right' in terms of target audience or ability to make a splash as opposed to political leanings.
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Old 10-24-2007   #12
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However, I think the broad majority of Americans are tolerant and openminded.
I'd like to agree with you on this, but I can't. You give more credit than I do. Just working with the average Joe (who isn't a news junkie and doesn't watch FOX all the time) I still see a lot of racism and complete lack of understanding to see the difference between a terrorist and a Muslim.

Steve, that sounds like a board I used to participate (AI-Jane). I have "problems" with civility there, so I found it best to just leave. (posting links to the KKK application was probably going a little overboard. )

I'm in complete agreement with you guys about the Religious Right. Just please don't bash Christians too much. Not all of us are obsessed with the end times, support the Zionists, or think Islam is the religion of the antichrist.
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Old 10-24-2007   #13
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Personally I think the percentage of Americans who "ferverently believe" the stuff the religious right puts out is relatively small. Do they answer the phone when pollsters call? Most likely; making them appear to be more of a factor than they really are. But I also tend to suspect that for some people the fear/hatred of Islam might come from a slightly different source than some have considered. Anyone remember the Nation of Islam? There were a fair number of black hate groups in the late 1960s going through to today that wrapped themselves in Islamic trappings. I think for some the "threat of Islam" resonates on a different level than the Middle East.

In any case, the press loves sticking a microphone in the face of someone who's going to say something to ramp people up...so long as it's the 'right' people being ramped up. And I mean 'right' in terms of target audience or ability to make a splash as opposed to political leanings.
I agree with you but would add three points:

1) the number of Americans extremely hostile to Muslims is growing
2) those who are hostile have an influence over politicians greater than their numbers simply because there is no "pro Islam" lobby to counterbalance them. It's the same dynamic as the anti-Castro lobby. For many Americans, it's really hard to distinguish a "good" Muslim from a "bad" one, so they figure they'll just be safe and dislike them all.
3) even though the group may be a small minority, many in the Arab world think they are typical of Americans.

Last edited by SteveMetz; 10-24-2007 at 01:01 PM.
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Old 10-24-2007   #14
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I'd like to agree with you on this, but I can't. You give more credit than I do. Just working with the average Joe (who isn't a news junkie and doesn't watch FOX all the time) I still see a lot of racism and complete lack of understanding to see the difference between a terrorist and a Muslim.

Steve, that sounds like a board I used to participate (AI-Jane). I have "problems" with civility there, so I found it best to just leave. (posting links to the KKK application was probably going a little overboard. )

I'm in complete agreement with you guys about the Religious Right. Just please don't bash Christians too much. Not all of us are obsessed with the end times, support the Zionists, or think Islam is the religion of the antichrist.
I've had to withdraw from that board a number of times because the sheer stupidity of some folks kicks me into my pit bull mode. After a while, I recoil at how aggressive I've become in my quest to stomp idiots.
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Old 10-24-2007   #15
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I agree with you but would add three points:

1) the number of Americans extremely hostile to Muslims is growing
2) those who are hostile have an influence over politicians greater than their numbers simply because there is no "pro Islam" lobby to counterbalance them. It's the same dynamic as the anti-Castro lobby
3) even though the group may be a small minority, many in the Arab world think they are typical of Americans.
I agree with your point 3, but can we really change that? And I'd be inclined to guess that if that group didn't exist, it would be made up and people would believe it existed anyhow. I'd also argue that the Arab reaction to that small minority is what is driving your point 1. So now we have the cycle going. Can it be fixed? I'm honestly not sure. With so few moderate Moslem leaders speaking out (or, more importantly, being reported as speaking out), it's easy for the religious right to launch their spin. And their spin feeds the radical Islam spin. There's always a great deal of talk about how moderate thinkers fear the radical elements within Islam, and it's not that far of a leap for the normal person to decide that if their own co-religionists are afraid of them, maybe they should be, too.

It doesn't help the "average" American, who's accustomed to a fixed church leadership heirarchy, that Islam appears to lack the sort of leadership structure they're accustomed to. For someone who's conditioned by their upbringing to see a pastor as the 'leader' of their church, a pronouncement by an Islamic cleric who most likely doesn't have the same standing is going to be given weight that it might not deserve.

I'm to a degree thinking out loud here, but to my way of thinking the problem is more complex than pressure groups (and I tend to believe that those do more harm than good in the long run, at least from the perspective of the "average" American). Americans have been conditioned by their consumer and quota society to expect neat labels for things and groups. Things like sports play into it, too (scorecard, teams, etc.). How do you help them understand that this stuff can't be cleanly labeled? You also have decades of pro-Israel images to overcome in the process (now there's a pressure group for you...), as well as all the talking head babble about the "Arab street"...which I expect conjures up images of mob rule and the like for many people.

I guess it all boils down to "Yeah...there's that problem. Now how the hell do we fix it? And can we fix it without help from outside?"
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Old 10-24-2007   #16
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alot of this rabble-rousing from the pulpit is like a tent revival - everyone gets on the wagon agaisnt sin but the cycle of sin repeats itself rather quickly afterwards. It makes people feel good but their shotguns gather dust in the closet as Muslims are not running amok on the streets. Steve is right about 1 WMD in New York causing a pogrom
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Old 10-24-2007   #17
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I agree with your point 3, but can we really change that? And I'd be inclined to guess that if that group didn't exist, it would be made up and people would believe it existed anyhow. I'd also argue that the Arab reaction to that small minority is what is driving your point 1. So now we have the cycle going. Can it be fixed? I'm honestly not sure. With so few moderate Moslem leaders speaking out (or, more importantly, being reported as speaking out), it's easy for the religious right to launch their spin. And their spin feeds the radical Islam spin. There's always a great deal of talk about how moderate thinkers fear the radical elements within Islam, and it's not that far of a leap for the normal person to decide that if their own co-religionists are afraid of them, maybe they should be, too.

It doesn't help the "average" American, who's accustomed to a fixed church leadership heirarchy, that Islam appears to lack the sort of leadership structure they're accustomed to. For someone who's conditioned by their upbringing to see a pastor as the 'leader' of their church, a pronouncement by an Islamic cleric who most likely doesn't have the same standing is going to be given weight that it might not deserve.

I'm to a degree thinking out loud here, but to my way of thinking the problem is more complex than pressure groups (and I tend to believe that those do more harm than good in the long run, at least from the perspective of the "average" American). Americans have been conditioned by their consumer and quota society to expect neat labels for things and groups. Things like sports play into it, too (scorecard, teams, etc.). How do you help them understand that this stuff can't be cleanly labeled? You also have decades of pro-Israel images to overcome in the process (now there's a pressure group for you...), as well as all the talking head babble about the "Arab street"...which I expect conjures up images of mob rule and the like for many people.

I guess it all boils down to "Yeah...there's that problem. Now how the hell do we fix it? And can we fix it without help from outside?"
I agree with you and, no, I don't think it can be fixed because its foundation is the "dream palace" of the Arabs. I'm the first to admit I've never lived in an Arab culture for an extended period but I have been strongly influenced over the past couple of years by a personal relationsip with an Arab. I've been amazed at the extent to which once this person arrives at a "narrative," no amount of event empirical evidence can shake them from this. I don't by any stretch intend this to be a racist position but I also don't think that because of political correctness, we can deny the fact that different cultures understand the world differently.

This is a theme I've been building in my book: the United States tends to be successful operating intra-culture (e.g. Atlanticism). We encounter problems when we operate cross-culturally (Vietnam, Iraq). And the rub is that the current global security system puts us in a position of frequently operating cross culturally. And I don't think increased "cultural sensitivity" is going to fix that.

That's why I take issue with the well meaning Americans who argue that if we just had a better organization for "strategic communications," the problem would be solved. While our organization is sub-optimal, I don't think it's the root of the problem.
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Old 10-24-2007   #18
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I agree with you and, no, I don't think it can be fixed because its foundation is the "dream palace" of the Arabs. I'm the first to admit I've never lived in an Arab culture for an extended period but I have been strongly influenced over the past couple of years by a personal relationsip with an Arab. I've been amazed at the extent to which once this person arrives at a "narrative," no amount of event empirical evidence can shake them from this. I don't by any stretch intend this to be a racist position but I also don't think that because of political correctness, we can deny the fact that different cultures understand the world differently.
I think we all have our own "narratives" which we tend to sink into comfortably, and often overestimate just how often we question ourselves on them. I've run into amazingly similar issues in my own relationships alternately with (1) a white Southerner completely unable to comprehend that slavery had anything to do with the Civil War (2) a Maronite Lebanese who insists that she has absolutely no Arab blood, and is indeed a pureblooded descendant of the Phoenician builders of Tyre (3) an African-American woman utterly convinced that black sub-Saharan Africans built the Pyramids of Giza, inspired the Greek alphabet, and invented basic principles of mathematics.

Due to my own narrative, I find myself chronically unable to believe that the Marine Corps did not win the Pacific War or storm Fallujah by themselves.

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This is a theme I've been building in my book: the United States tends to be successful operating intra-culture (e.g. Atlanticism). We encounter problems when we operate cross-culturally (Vietnam, Iraq). And the rub is that the current global security system puts us in a position of frequently operating cross culturally. And I don't think increased "cultural sensitivity" is going to fix that.

That's why I take issue with the well meaning Americans who argue that if we just had a better organization for "strategic communications," the problem would be solved. While our organization is sub-optimal, I don't think it's the root of the problem.
Agree with much of this argument. Unfortunately, I think even our "Atlanticist" operations are much overrated, at least anytime we penetrate east of the English Channel. As far as the vapidity of "strategic communications" go, I agree that this is accorded far too much importance. However, I think that often the issue is not necessarily so much a clash of cultures being unable to understand one another as a genuine divergence of interests. We Americans have our own cultural blinders --- one of them is a failure to recognize that what is best for the United States and our own interests is often not what is best for those in other places with other interests.
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Old 10-24-2007   #19
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Due to my own narrative, I find myself chronically unable to believe that the Marine Corps did not win the Pacific War or storm Fallujah by themselves.
I hear that they MIGHT have had they not run out of jars.
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Old 10-24-2007   #20
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I guess I don't have to worry quite as much about globalizing myself any more.
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