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September 30, 2005

Arabs: Anti-American or Not?

(Cross-posted at Lifelike Pundits)

I read this extremely interesting commentary by Iraninan Amir Taheri, whose columns are featured regularly in the New York Post. Using Karen Hughes' current good will tour of the Middle East as a springboard, Taheri poses the question: "Are Arabs the most anti-American people on Earth?" What he discloses in order to answer the question is illuminating.

In addition to many American products and business outlets in Arab countries, one will find that:

More than 70 percent of what's broadcast on Arab TV stations (including those regarded as "obsessively anti-American") is U.S.-made; 80 percent of the films shown in Arab cinemas are made in Hollywood. There are more than two dozen English dailies, all using the American version of the language. Go through them, and you see that much of the content comes from U.S. agencies and syndication services.

The above paragraph will be important later. Here's more:

Only God and the U.S. immigration service would know how many Arabs hold green cards or even dual Arab-U.S. citizenship. With the possible exception of Libya, which has a weird regime, and Syria, whose leaders fear they may be targeted for "regime change," almost all Arab regimes are well-disposed toward the United States. Sixteen of the 21 member states of the Arab League host some U.S. military presence. The FBI maintains offices in at least 12 Arab capitals.

I imagine Iran is among the few whose government is anti-American, but this information isn't what one would expect to hear.

Remember the paragraph I said would be important? Here's why:

In Arab newspapers, the bulk of the material that could be classified as anti-Bush and/or anti-American is translated from U.S. sources. Stroll in the streets where books and video and audio tapes are on sale at the curbsides and you will see that 90 percent of the items vilifying America come from American, French and British authors.

Thanks, Noam Chomsky! You've found an audience after all.

At any given time, one can find a horde of American activists visiting the region to urge the natives to hate America:

* Two years ago, a group of Americans appeared in Arab capitals to stop people in the bazaars to "apologize for the Crusades," although the United States didn't even exist when those wars were fought between Europe and the Middle East.

They took a page out of Bill Clinton's book, who apologizes for--well, everything.

* One American professor recently published an op-ed in The New York Times relating his trip to Iran, where he was "disappointed" to see that students not only did not hate George W. Bush but, horror of horrors, also craved for an American-style democracy instead of an Islamist utopia.

If only this professor had those students in his classes, he could have shown them the "light."


* A friend, who happens to be a minister in an Arab state, was saddened this summer when, spending holidays with his family in the United States as he had always done since student days, he had to quarrel with an old American schoolmate. The point of the dispute was that the American insisted that the United States was an "evil empire," while the Arab believed that it could be a force for reform in the Middle East.

Read the article for more startling examples. Taheri's conclusion:

There are many issues on which the Arabs disagree with the United States. But most Arabs don't see that as a sign of anti-Arabism on the part of America. Hughes should not regard it as a sign of anti-Americanism on the part of Arabs.

It's nice to know that so many are doing their part to crumble the wall of misunderstanding between Arabs and Americans...not. Anti-Americanism exists in the Arab world, of that there is no doubt. If it didn't, 9/11 would never have happened. But is it as widespread as we think it is?

If not, some of our very own countrymen will do their best to encourage it.

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