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Monday, January 10, 2011

Ten million Loughners (Barry Rubin)

A must read from Barry Rubin:
When one crazed or ideologically obsessed gunman starts shooting in Arizona, people condemn him and start bemoaning their society. How about a place with ten million people like that who are treated as heroes?

America this week is awash in a huge and passionate debate over whether angry political disagreements and harsh criticisms of certain views or groups inspired the attack on an American congresswoman (Jewish and a strong supporter of Israel, by the way). I’m not going to enter into that argument right now but I want to point out the Middle Eastern ramifications of what's going on here.

Every day for more than a half century, Arabs and Muslims have been inundated every day with hatred for Israel, America, the West, Jews, and often Christians. You can read transcripts of Syrian broadcasts or Palestinian speeches from 50 years ago that sound just like what was said in the same places yesterday by powerful and/or respectable figures and institutions.

Let’s say that the proportion of lies, slanders, and incitement in the American discourse is one-tenth of one percent of all the words spoken on controversial issues. The equivalent figure for the Middle East is well over 95 percent.

In addition to that tone, there is not only a total lack of balance but an absence of the other side altogether.

And in addition to those two points, the level of factual accuracy has a huge gap separating it from reality. (Though, admittedly, that gap has been narrowing in recent years as Western standards decline).

And in addition to those three points, while extremists tend to be marginal in the United States, they are in control--either politically or at least rhetorically--throughout most of the Arabic-speaking and Muslim-majority worlds.
Read the whole thing.