Sunday, February 22, 2004

Expatriates & Bush

Our spirited lady in Baghdad weighs in on this NYT article about the emerging Arab-American support for Mr. Bush Jr. The problem, of course, is that two of the poster boys named in the Leslie Wayne’s article happen to be of Iranian descent. (For some background on one Mr. Mori Hosseini, see here, here, here, and here.)

Admittedly, as Jack Shafer effectively point out in Slate, Leslie appears a bit too confused about the composition of our Mid- Eastern societies ; but again, who wouldn’t be, really? What we have here is a rich mosaic of complexions, religions, and political dispositions. Naturally, the expatriate community reflects this diversity as well.

While I believe it not unfair to expect journalist not to be sloppy, I do think we should have some prospective on these matters. After all, life is about learning. The moment we harass, insult, demonize or otherwise make people feel atrocious about not having exhibited authoritative knowledge when thinking or writing about matters important to all of us, we make human interactions needlessly arduous. We all lose.

There is nothing wrong with getting things wrong. Ignorance is not a sin. Familiarity, awareness, and knowledge-- these are all partial and deepen with time. The problem really lies in our tendency to expect authoritative voices, and our love of shortcuts, and easy answers and our tendency to fear nuances.

But the sense of anxiety I feel comes with the realization that Leslie, her friends, mentors and classmates are sitting on top of one of the most lethal arsenals ever. Even a most generous reading would leave me unsettled about the prospect of a bunch of us ending up as charcoaled meat as our self appointed saviors insist on continuing their crusade to re-make us in their own image.

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