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September 04, 2007

The Distasteful, Dangerous Barbarians Across The Sea

I liked this better the first time I read it, when it was called "The America I Have Seen" by Sayyid Qutb.

(You can find the actual, hilarious "America I Have Seen" here.)

Posted at September 4, 2007 07:20 AM | TrackBack

That was a fucking disgusting thing to walk into without warning this early in the morning. Ugh.

Posted by: Svlad Jelly at September 4, 2007 09:19 AM

Every bloomin' furriner what sets foot on these shores want to be De Tocqueville.

This one gets a D-
(PGI, Post Grade Inflation)

Posted by: donescobar at September 4, 2007 10:26 AM

I would argue that people in different countries do think differently, even if the underlying human nature is the same. However, the problem is really the fact that each culture cannot be seen or appreciated for its virtues in spite of its small relative idiosyncrasies.

Our diverse weltanschuungs, values and cultures are what we have gotten to accumulate in our collective knowledge. Some day, all of us will discover that the values of another will be our greatest help in our direst hour of need.

Posted by: En Ming Hee at September 4, 2007 10:36 AM

A clash of civilizations is indeed inevitable:

In summary, anything that requires a touch of elegance is not for the American, even haircuts! For there was not one instance in which I had a haircut there when I did not return home to even with my own hands what the barber had wrought, and fix what the barber had ruined with his awful taste.

Qutb, at least, could write.

Posted by: buermann at September 4, 2007 10:46 AM

Well, it's racist for sure, but if it persuades a few Republicans to give up on Bush's nation-buildin' project in Mesopotamia, maybe that's a good thing?

Just trying to keep a positive outlook...

And then there's this:

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.
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...

So, if Arabs without oil work hard and those with oil don't work hard, isn't the obvious lesson that oil wealth is corrupting? Not if you're Col. Hayes. You can see he almost comes to this conclusion ("Note that neither is an oil state..."), but his racism is just too distracting, and "Arabs are lazy" is just too tempting. The poor guy just can't help himself.

Posted by: SteveB at September 4, 2007 11:06 AM

I love that they call themselves "politically centrist" on their masthead, even though they link almost exclusively to right-wingers, take conservative positions on everything from economics to culture, defend and identify with the Republican party, throw around the term 'moonbat'...

I've noticed that the people who really believe that we're in a clash of civilizations, and that we're fighting for our very survival, also believe that they're not really political. Same goes for O'Reilly viewers. They believe that the world is chock full of criminals and enemies and that it's kill or be killed, and that this isn't an ideology or a political viewpoint at all, it's the simplest common sense. If they realized that they were ideologues, they might actually be easier to talk to.

Posted by: Chris E. at September 4, 2007 12:03 PM

Check out the comments on that other blog. One of them calls for Arabs to be "culled".

So, according to this retired colonel the Burj Dubai Hotel will probably collapse on itself in a few years due to shoddy maintenance.

Posted by: graeme at September 4, 2007 12:08 PM

The are Pajamas Media "centrists," judging by their banner. The comments are exceptional.

Kill'em..kill'em until their numbers are insignificant to the world and kill them until their civilization is only something cultural anthropologists study. They are trying to do no less to us.
#3.1 John White on 2007-09-03 17:03

I really and for true do not care if folks wind up with a horrific government over them, because they are not smart nor wise enough to figure out that good government requires keeping such government in check from becoming authoritarian and tyrannical.

#6 ajacksonian (Link) on 2007-09-03 18:37

Me, I'm looking forward to revisiting Arabia after the oil runs out and watching the 'civilization' there totally collapse. I admire the emirs in Bahrain and UAE who have made plans for surviving the collapse. Hope it works out for them.
#13 Curtis on 2007-09-04 09:49

Until we accept that the Arabs will do whatever they like with any civilized concept (ie wipe their ass with it) we should never trust them. ...The whole concept of Israel is flawed in my opinion. But giving it to the even more stupid Palestinians would be wrong too. Please lets just leave the middle east to its own filthy ways and distance ourselves as much as possible.
#17 Joost on 2007-09-04 10:23

Posted by: StO at September 4, 2007 01:12 PM

Yes, America is surrounded by people who hate us, enemies everywhere. In our closets, under our beds the bogey man lurks waiting to leap out and tear us limb from limb. If only we could make them wear baseball caps, watch Leave it to Beaver, eat hamburger, all would be well.

Posted by: rob payne at September 4, 2007 01:58 PM

So "with us, the most important sources of self-esteem are useful work and the love of a good woman," whereas the sources of Arab self-esteem are "PHONY."

Yes! Such exquisite observatory powers! Honed, no doubt, when the author "was a grad student in Anthropology." Especially the all-caps coup de grace.

A little googling traces these "observations on Arabs" to an email posted on the website of science fiction author Jerry Pournelle:

Pournelle, BTW, was one of the SF authors who founded the Citizens’ Advisory Council on National Space Policy, which in turn came up with the idea of SDI, and in fact wrote part of Reagan's famous SDI speech in March of 1983.

Anyway, the screed is part of a slightly longer email that was apparently making the rounds about a year ago, and seems to have played a role in that nasty little right-wing campaign to mock and malign Jill Carroll. It was supposedly written by "an American teaching English in Saudia [Arabia]," not William Haynes (Col USAF Ret), who by the looks of it only forwarded the thing.

I'm guessing that this is the same Bill Haynes who enjoys blergghing on such topics as South African mobs, "the compassion trap," and hey, how about those square craters on the moon?

Haynes even muses how people can believe "without question that a particular sub-set of their citizens is inferior." O that unintentional irony schtick! Never fails to kill.

&c. &c.

The blerggher Haynes should not, BTW, be confused with General Counsel of the Department of Defense William Haynes II, named in the Center for Constitutional Rights's criminal complaint against Rumsfeld, et al. for culpability in the torture practices at Abu Ghraib.

That William Haynes -- the failed nominee for the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, who "helped issue a memo allowing the torture of detainees in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo," according to Amnesty International -- is, apparently, the former colonel's son.

It's the Circle of Life
And it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the Circle
The Circle of Life

Apologies for the unclickable links -- the html coded version of this comment was seriously botched.

Posted by: Duncan Clark at September 4, 2007 05:20 PM

I liked the part about the djinn. Thank God westerners never have superstitious beliefs, eh?

Posted by: Avedon at September 4, 2007 06:28 PM

This is "hilarious"?
This style of argument is familiar to readers of english language Egyptian periodicals. Make a bald assertion in terms so general that they are hard to refute, then hold up the subject of the diatribe(Israel, US, Multinationals, unenlightened arabs) to see how they measure against the unproven assertion. "The American appears to be so primative in his outlook on life and humanitarian aspects...", thank god he doesn't let science help him give evidence for this statement, that would be so AMERICAN! This essay was neither enlightening or hilarious-I'll Know better next time.

Posted by: Gregg Pompe at September 4, 2007 09:07 PM

nice work duncan.

Posted by: buermann at September 4, 2007 09:55 PM

Wow, a whole year in a foreign country, eh? What this essay really puts me in mind of is not Sayyid Qutb but the expatriates I encounter in Asia.

They spend a year or two in a foreign country, maybe making a token attempt at the language, and know little of its history, but feel entitled to make sweeping pronouncements about its culture. In short they try to put together a unified theory of why it is inferior to their own, and a great many of the things they came up with are identical to this little piece. They did spend a year there, after all, and clearly that's enough to make anyone an expert.

So identical, in fact, that one might conclude their theories say more about them and their ignorance than about the actual countries.

Posted by: Korea Beat at September 5, 2007 05:49 AM