Tuesday, January 09, 2007

How Arabs Think (Kuwait Times)

From Dr. Sami Alrabaa of the Kuwait Times (excerpts):
Some of us Arabs are polemic and demagogic. Either we love or hate. There is nothing in between. We are selective. We are masters of distorting facts. We pick out those ideas that suit us and deliberately ignore those that do not match our line of thinking. Differentiated thinking is unknown to us. Westerners who disapprove of the death penalty are abused by both Arabs who love Saddam Hussain and those who hate him. Ali Al-Baghli in Al-Qabas, Jan 6, rightly indicated that while Westerners disapprove of the death penalty out of the conviction that humans must not kill their fellow humans, they also condemn Saddam's appalling atrocities.

Arabs, whether they are democrats or totalitarians, wish their enemies to be smashed by all means. Our whole history has been stained by killing and murder. The four Caliphs after the death of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) were murdered. Pragmatism and compromise are alien to Arab culture. Either we love or we hate, and our enemy must be obliterated at all costs. Think of Iraq, Palestine, and Lebanon. The Arab states have never been governed by the rule of law and established institutions. The constitution is not worth the papers it is written on.

...Having said all that, the Western dream toward establishing genuine democracy in Arab countries remains a dream, a project of gargantuan proportion. Paradigms of rationality do not work in the Arab world. Besides, history has shown that cultural transformations take generations if not centuries.

P.S. Soon I'm going to write an article about culture and success. Why are the Japanese, the South Koreans, and most recently, the Chinese and the Indians successful, wherever they are, but we Muslims are not?
In the interests of fairness I must say that the entire article is written very poorly and if it was bashing Israel I would have made merciless fun of his writing style. Nevertheless, it is a rare example of introspection in the Arab world and is welcome.