I’m tired of the blanket generalizations applied to cultural, political or geographical groups by too many people around me (myself included, sometimes). What frustrated me on Thanksgiving was the overly generalized statement that all Middle Easterns hate America, and that’s the reason behind the failure to democratize Iraq. While it is without a doubt true that the States aren’t as popular in the region as they once were, I don’t see how such a statement contributes anything to the debate.
Truthfully, the region I despise a statement like the one about Arabs hating America is that it defines a billion people by the actions of a very vocal and active yet small minority. It strikes me as the same as someone outside the U.S. defining America in terms of the rightwing religious zealots or the KKK, not in terms of the actual diversity of the country and the diversity of thought that can sometimes exist here. Those vocal minorities are not representative here, and I have a hard time believing that groups such as Al Qaeda are truly representative there.
At the same time, there is within my mind little doubt that there is widespread frustration with the U.S. I would not be surprised to find that many people are unhappy with U.S. policy in the region, and much of that has to do with the support given to autocratic yet friendly regimes. While our support of these groups, such as the Saudi monarchy and the government of Egypt has allowed the world relatively inexpensive access to natural resources, the U.S. has become a convenient scapegoat when passions are inflamed. And attacking Iraq has only further inflamed those passions by creating the impression that the U.S. is indifferent to the humanitarian concerns of a long impoverished nation, seen as a result of the U.S.-led sanctions against the country. The blanket support of Israel, as well, only adds further fuel to the fire. U.S. policy is seen by many in the region, I would anticipate (though I don’t actually know), as not merely indifferent but hostile to the people in the Middle East.
This political situation, combined with the inability to consistently provide basic resources to the population in Iraq. Or the belligerent attitude shown to the populate. Just read the Iraqi blogger’s comments over the past year. He has been a very moderate voice, yet even he has his limits. Take this exchange from November 23rd.
grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr .. I am angry now .. I AM angry .. and “THEY” come and ask you “why don’t you like us?” … I will tell you why .. >>>> I was just stopped by an American check point .. they let me stand under the rain .. in the mud .. for more than 15 minutes .. a soldier pushed me in a very strong way that I nearly fell down, and the other was investigating me: Why do you have a camera in your car? haaa? !!!!!! What the hell !!! I mean !! duh ?? I have a camera? why not? then came the other americano with a smile asking me: do you film porn? !!! I heard that but I asked him: what sir? and he replied: PORN pee ooo are enn ,, ha ha ha .. (is that funny?) .. Soldiers stopping people in the EID (these are the Muslims’ festival days) asking them whether they film porn and pushing them in mud .. I DON’T LIKE “THEM”
Who would be happy to be in such a situation? And all that for merely moving about? The slow progress, the security situation (or lack thereof), and the constant military prescense all contribute to a situation of uneasiness. It’s not that anyone but a few extremists hate the US, but rather that, quite simply, most people want to live peacefully and securely, and that’s not currently possible there.