acquaintance of his. His acquaintance is a physician's assistant who once lived in Saudi
Arabia and will heretofore be known as PA1 per the Lion of the Left's request:
I thought the piece was direct and necessary considering the resultant 911
patriotism binge this nation embarked on post 911 that left us with a house full of broken
freedoms, principals, and a black eye in the esteem of our next door neighbors.
Though not central to the essay, I once again feel that the author does not fully
appreciate what the fanatic represents far beyond his own religious delusions. The fanatic
knows that while his or her actions are beyond the moral code of most of his or her
countrymen; the fanatic's motives, sense of injustice, and desire for retribution are not
at all out of synch with the majority.
Hitler had bloodthirsty solutions for the wrongs that he and all his nation had
experienced first hand post WWI.
United States CIA operatives did things to other human beings that few of we
decent sort would have been able to contemplate doing to another human being. But we
sympathize with why they were doing them. We do not as a nation want to betray them
with condemnation. Our representatives tortured people because our nation was at risk.
Our way of life was being attacked. Our Executive-In-Chief ordered that the torturing
be done. In other words, people capable of extreme behavior were recruited in our name
to perform the same acts for the very same reasons that motivated the war criminals of
Germany and Japan whom we tried under the banner of Christian decency and summarily
In other words, anyone finds it hard to sympathize with the idea that one's enemy
is motivated by the very same love of country, family, children, and tradition that we are.
Osama bin Laden committed or enabled a ghastly act of terrorism against the
United States. I was in Saudi Arabia at the time. My Saudi friends were politely sympathetic,
but almost always with the caveat to wit: "But you know, your country cannot push its
way around in the world without expecting some sort of consequence."
I was living in Dhahran at the time. Downtown I could go to a shopping mall
that would give the malls of America a run for their money. I could find a KFC, McDonalds,
Pizza Hut, Baskin Robbins, and even a Roy Rogers franchise. I could tune in to the latest
tunes and talk radio being broadcast from Aramco and the AFRTS transmitters.
My Saudi friends seemed to love visiting Aramco and enjoying the Western way
of life on exhibit there. They could talk with women in western dress. They could sneak
a drink of "squeak" or home brew at any of the many western villas as their guest. It was
reassuring to we Westerners to see that indeed, when given the chance, the Saudis loved
throwing off the shackles of fourteenth century mores and customs.
At the Dhahran Mall young Saudi men snuck peeks ay the opposite sex whose
beautiful faces were seductively framed in semi-transparent veils. Phone numbers were
exchanged when the Matawa (religious police) were not looking. The men would tell me
that the "old" way of having a bride arranged by the parents was no longer acceptable.
They envied the West in this regard.
But when the Matawa did get an idea of what was going on, the bravery ended.
The young men suffered the stings of the flailing bamboo sticks carried by the Matawa.
They hung their heads in shame as the Matawa harangued on and on about immorality
and the words of the Prophet Mohammed (Peace Be Upon Him) and the Holy Koran;
the book taught to him in school, revered at home by mother and father, grandmother
and grandfather, and by the tribe.
I have taken many vacations in Saudi Arabia and watched as Saudis would kick
up their heels in western dress in a European resort only to don traditional attire: thobe
and gutra, habaya and veil prior to landing back in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, home
of Mecca, the Kabaa, the holiest place on earth for Muslims.
I, as a westerner, am not allowed near Mecca. The companies I worked for in
Saudi Arabia kept my passport in order that at the end of my contract I would board my
last flight out with a one way ticket and do not sneak away to live and contaminate their
culture with my western ways. Saudi Arabia wants to be a respectable nation, a modern
nation, a proud Islamic nation. The Royal Family wants the power and the economy.
The Islamic faith wants a fair share of the wealth to strengthen Islam; but they also want
the West to keep it's hands off it's customs, mores, and it's pure connection to God,
Imagine you wake up one day and on your way to work you can only find one
new show or western music station; all the rest are Islamic, speaking Arabic. Imagine
you have to hunt to find a western men's store. The young people want to dress in
traditional Arab dress because it is cool and today. Imagine your Saturday afternoon
interrupted several times by a loudspeaker from a nearby mosque.
Imagine Rome taken over "temporarily" by a trans-Islamic army chasing after
a gang that threatened the economy of the Middle East. Imagine that in the heat of battle
and emotions that St. Peter's Basilica is heavily damaged by shelling and fire. Imagine
that thousands of innocents have been murdered in the course of war; and you complain,
but nothing can be done about it.
Imagine yourself looking at the dead bodies of your only loved ones as a "Eat
At Lucky Mohammeds" neon franchise sign blinks overhead. Imagine someone
sympathizing with you and asking for a lira or two to help fight back. Imagine that they
are successful at striking a blow, a dramatic blow. Imagine hearing for the first time in
your life: "Why do the Romans hate us so much?" What do you think? Your comments
and rebuttals are welcome. Please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org