July 31, 2007


Behind the Arab street's anti-American facade (Hussain Abdul-Hussain, 7/30/07, The Christian Science Monitor)

During my years as a reporter in Beirut, whenever I covered an anti-U.S. protest, I saw most of the protesters trying to hide their faces from cameras. Ask any of them about the reason for doing so, and they will tell you that they do not want to jeopardize getting a visa to the U.S. or to other Western countries.

But those who don't want to risk their visas are the same ones who fear retribution of their ruling regimes, or even their militant peers, if they express any support of the West. These people walk a tightrope. On the one hand, they want to keep their visa prospects high. On the other hand, they want to look as anti-Western as their oppressors want them to look.

The double-face theory explains a good deal of the social behavior of many Arabs. It explains why, even though the majority of Arabs appear to hate America, American multinational franchises are booming in Arab countries.

Whether it is Starbucks, McDonald's, Burger King or KFC, they are all in high demand in the Arab region. Hollywood movies are widely watched. American pop culture is as widespread in the Middle East as it is here in the U.S. Most Arabs know Ross and Rachel from the TV sitcom "Friends." Many of them know the rapper 50 Cent and often sing his tunes. Many of them strive to enter the U.S. universities mushrooming across the region.

If you ask these Arabs about the dilemma of loving America and hating it at the same time, the most common answer would be: We love America, but we hate its foreign policy.

American foreign policy, however, does not always work against what many of these Arabs want to see. Only a few would oppose the removal of their tyrant.

...if it was leaving you under an oppressive regime.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 31, 2007 6:47 AM
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