Friday, June 29, 2007

See, and I said I wasn’t going to talk about anything serious.

I have to get up early tomorrow so it turns out I’m chained to my computer for the evening (boo hiss), and you know what that means? Actual blogging!

I’m guessing that by now everyone’s heard about the attempted car bombs in London. Those were both pretty close calls – its sheer luck that they were found before they went off.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently, and there’s one nagging thought that I can’t get away from. Not only that ignoring the underlying problem that’s causing things like car bombs isn’t going to make the problem go away – obvious, but people do seem to have a hard time grasping this fact – but that a really big part of the problem isn’t being addressed by either the media or the governmental powers that be at all.

By which I mean – I have yet to see any mainstream acknowledgment of the fact that, whatever anyone may think of the actions taken by Muslim extremist groups (for the record, no, I do not approve of those actions), they actually do have some valid grievances. I’m not sure if it’s because people can’t quite separate the means of expressing those grievances from the underlying issues, or if the racism and cultural imperialism runs so deep that people genuinely do not see that the Arab world has some really valid reasons to be angry with the West, and particularly with the USA, the UK and France. I’m guessing it’s a mixture of both. Regardless, the fact remains – the Arab world has all kinds of reasons to be angry with the West, and most of them have nothing to do with religion per se. Most of them have to do with things like the West’s nasty habit of propping up vicious dictators, our disconcerting habit of ignoring human rights abuses by our allies while screaming about those of our enemies, our quite blatantly utilitarian approach to the region in general. Pretty much every time the Western powers have gotten involved in the Middle East they’ve royally screwed things up (drawing completely inappropriate borders in an attempt to carve up territory amongst our greedy selves, anyone? Selling torture devices to the Saudis?), and we have yet to demonstrate any ability to learn from past mistakes. We have also yet to apologize for them. As much as people here may not want to acknowledge this, lots of people in the Middle East dislike and distrust us, and it’s not out of religious bigotry. There’s a history there. Look at the way we hung the Kurds out to dry after the first Gulf War. People distrust us for a reason.

I really don’t see any way in which this situation is ever going to be resolved without that basic fact being acknowledged and dealt with – that the Arab world has legitimate grievances, that the West did a lot of very bad things during the colonial period, and that some of the bad things continue to this day. What is it going to take to get people to see that? Do you actually have to grow up in the Middle East to grasp this fact?
Because every time I try to talk to people about this issue I’m confronted by this blank look, as if the very idea that there might be actual reasons why terrorist organizations exist and have popular support is completely incomprehensible. It’s not incomprehensible. It’s very easy to understand if you just take the time to study the history, and if you acknowledge that people there are just like people here. They feel the way they do for a reason. They’re not just crazy. Until that fact is addressed…well, I’m seeing a lot more car bombs in our future.

5 comments:

Veronica said...

I do believe that "acknowledging that folks in the Middle East have grievances" is also referred to as "hating America" and "letting the terrorists win."

That said, you don't have to grow up over there to have a hint of a clue, but we're a country that turned a sappy Alan Jackson song that basically sentimentalized ignorance about the region into s huge hit.

belledame222 said...

*sigh*, yeah.

Trinity said...

right on.

KH said...

The problem is partly that the political class is divided. It's not that they're unaware of the history, but some of them regard it as against interest to recognize Arab & Muslim grievances. So no agreed policy can be concerted, & you get continuous guerrilla warfare at the level of high politics & in the bureaucracies; Bush was empowered by the resulting chaos. The ignorance & ethnocentrism of the mass public wouldn't matter if the foreign policy establishment were better ordered.

Cassandra Says said...

V- I never actually heard that song. Was it really blatantly racist or just kind of garden-variety dumbass?

kh - To a certain extent I agree BUT the general apathy and fuckwittery of the pubic does make it an awful lot easier for the powers that be to keep on keeping on.