Thursday, September 25, 2008

Interesting Interaction

I am not the Sandmonkey or أحمد or Wael Abbas. I respect their diligent and consistent blogging and the fact that they have loyal audiences. They (and many others including writers on this blog) are serious bloggers, writers and journalists. I, on the other hand, write mostly for my own amusement and do not usually care much if anyone bothers to read what I write. I have realized, however, how much more of an interesting experience blogging can be once there is interaction with readers, feedback, and an exchange of ideas between blogger and blog devotee or critic. It is especially interesting when your readers come from a diversity of cultural and political backgrounds, which is why this blogging project is so interesting for me.

One of the opportunities we were fortunate to get to interact with a wider public has been the link to our blog generously posted on WRAL's (North Carolina's biggest news channel) GoLo site, which is an interactive, blog-oriented site maintained by the channel. It has been no less than fascinating to read the comments North Carolina readers have left about our blog. The great majority of the comments have been respectful, interesting and interested.

There have also been some comments which I have found, mmm, shall I say, revealing? Egydiva earlier posted one of these comments and her response to it. I don't think that these commenters are representative of anything. I do, however, think it is important to know that this frame of mind exists. I'm also not sure that everyone would have the same reaction to these comments that I did, so I thought I'd post the comments and my responses here and get a wider variety of opinions.

From a commenter named Rationality: " When I went to Cairo a few years ago I was bombarded with accusations that Bush and Isreal were behind 9/11. It really got old after a while. It's interesting to get the other point of view, but it's going to be skewed with the fact that they don't have the freedoms of speech and religion over there that we have here."

My Response: "Please don't assume that me or any of my fellow bloggers are incapable of free, rational or critical thought because of your perceptions about what kind of atmosphere I live in. Please don't be patronizing about the quality of my thought production.Most Americans cannot locate foreign countries on maps and do not even own a passport. Yet, not only does America have an opinion about just about every place under the sun, but voting tax payers money is used to support unpopular governments, fund wars and determine the fates of millions. That, to me, is "skewed."

From a commenter named GetRight: "I would very much like to know, on an individual basis, each one's opinion of the violent tactics employed by Muslims all over the world to accomplish their political goals. Their responses to this subject will define where they stand and tell us a great deal about how they may portray "us" when they return home.While all Muslims are not terrorists there ARE many, who would not participate in terrorism, yet they are very sympathetic to the cause and methods of terrorists. When these sympathizers are journalists they may sound a whole lot like a terrorist to us."

My Response: " I am curious as to which of our posts sounded to you like it promoted terrorism?I have already stated my opinion on violence. Should I now ask every individual American jounralist what they think of violent tactics used by America and its allies in every corner of the world for political purposes? Surely someone of such a global outlook as you must know that this exists abundantly?I believe terror is terror whether you have the largest army in the world or an illegal milita. More people have been killed in the last two decades by American funded wars and weapons as well as American soldiers than by all the terrorist attacks (Islamic and otherwise) combined. Believe it or not, not all of those people deserved to die. But I believe that this comparison is petty and misses the point.It shouldn't matter who killed more people. All that should matter is that it stops. I will do my best to promote a true and non violent Islam, will you do the same for America?"

From a commenter named GWALLY: "Carnegie Endowment, USAID, journalism schools, Arabs.....well.... I'm quite sure THIS will be a POSITIVE discussion about America and it's support and how without America NONE of the ABOVE would even exist!!!!"

My Response: " I can assure you, and I repeat, assure you, that Arabs would have existed without the United States."

20 comments:

EgyDiva said...

well spoken, made us proud!

Wael Abbas said...

guys
why do you let them call you arabs?
you're egyptian!

Wael Abbas said...

and to one of the commentators
I knw that not all the americans are skin heads!
duh!

zeinab said...

I have no problem being called Arab, or identifying myself as such. I have my issues with Arabs, but so do I have my problems with Egypt and Egyptians, and I love being called Egyptian. Same applies to Muslims and Islam. In fact the same applies to humans and humanity, but I don't necessarily mind being called human either. You know what I mean?

Wael Abbas said...

unfortunately i do have a serious problem being called an arab
because i'm not
this is a lie that was created in the 1950s and 1960s by mf nasser
and considering egyptians arabs in my opinion is stereotyping
but this is a big issue that requires a lot of discussion

Pax Machina said...

HOW DARE YOU CALL HIM A MF?????

he was the great orator that brought us:

strengthened the mukabarat.

spread the wealth and fortune (even if it was amongst his coup cohorts) of those bad royals.

he gave us the yemen war.

he stood against israell like a man and handed them sinai, moreover aided in handing jerusalem over to the young jewish state, after 2000 years of exile. they should build a great statue in his honor.

we need a man like him again, unfortunately he was voted out of office by allah sobhanawatala.

Wael im a huge fan, but i usually have my dad forward me a translation of your blog as i can't read....will you ever blog in english?

Wael Abbas said...

the problem pax is the reason why i'm blogging
i blog in egyptian arabic because this the laguage of the youth
those who are supposed to make the change
so i have to keep blogging for them in their own language
but i promse i will try from time to time to blog in english
but there will be always google trnalte :)

Sarah said...

Zeinab you rock! I love your well composed and logical responses!

zeinab said...

we ba3dein ya Wael we were called stupid, backward and terrorist, we enta elly mday2ak Arab? priorities ya3ni.
Plus all identity and classification are a myth and a creation. The nation state itself and the idea of nationalism is an imaginary thing which becomes real as people believe it. The same applies to Egypt as an Islamic and Arab state or a "Middle Eastern" state (whatever the F that means).

Wael Abbas said...

i have no probem being called a human only :P

and yes i don't have a problem with all the above but i have a problem with arab because it is all the above ;)

ok
this is what you beleive
but tell the intelligencia in the region and all over the world not me
i'm only reacting to the world :D

Pax Machina said...

google xlate is right 40% of the time and the sentences hardly ever make sense....tx for entertaining the idea wael :D.....

DFS said...

Wael,
I honestly tried to understand ur position here, and really if you don't want to be an Arab, there's plenty more where you came from, matgish 3ala nafsak khales.
But in the very least I think you should not treat bing called an Arab like a curse-word. And for your information Egypt was considered Arab long before Nasser, remember the fotu7at islameya? That's when it really began. Now I am not debating whether it is a good thing or a bad thing to be called an Arab, as zeinab said even humanity has its issues.
What I am saying is, that maybe you should consider that along with the Egyptians (who are what exactly?? Africans or Pharaohs?) there are a lot of ARAB people who check out your blog and grandly respect a group of young people they would call their own (up until you made it all clear)and even feel a sense of pride that this is the caliber of young intellectuals representing them.
Dear Yasser, if you refuse to be an Arab (which obviously is not mandatory zay el geish) at least have the courtesy to be more of a diplomat.
Other than that, i would still dare to say this is a group of amazingly promising young individuals are Arabs-like myself.

zeinab said...

Thanks Sarah! DFS, thank you as well.

And who would've thought this would turn into a debate on identity politics in the-dare I say it?- Arab world?

See you tomorrow ya Wael, we can continue this on the plane:)

Tantor said...

Zeinab,

After the Sep 11 attacks, witnesses report the members of two mosques within sight of the burning towers spilled out in the street and celebrated. Another survivor said when he got into a Muslim neighborhood in New York, he found Muslims watching the towers burn on TV in a store and laughing.

When I went to Egypt last year, the Copts told me that Egyptians celebrated the Sep 11 attacks for a month until the government realized that wasn't in their best interests and changed the official position. Now, polls show that only 12% of Egyptians believe Muslims under Bin Laden perpetrated the Sep 11 attacks. A similiar percentage believes America attacked itself. 40% believe Israel did it.

Beyond that, there are the widespread reports of Muslims celebrating the bloodshed all over the world. Palestinians danced in the street and passed out candy. Egyptian cab drivers cracked jokes about the attack. An Egyptian singer got a hit song making sport of the attacks. Saudis sacrificed goats. Muslim Turks in Germany fired off rockets. Muslim kids the world around bought Bin Laden T-shirts.

Do you see how that would make a poor impression on Americans? When a tsunami hits Muslim nations, we don't dance in the streets in America. We send aid by the planeload and boatload. Those differing reactions, in a nutshell, illustrate the difference between a small, weak culture and a big, strong culture.

The jubilant Arab Muslim reaction to the Sep 11 attacks displays a depraved set of values and willful ignorance produced by an intolerant and belligerent Islam. While I regret that your nice stay in America was punctured by sharp questioning regarding Islam and Egyptian values, that's the kind of reaction you can expect when Islam perpetrates terror around the world. For Americans, Sep 11 is an unforgettable lesson in the evil of Islam.

It's a fun game to fuzz the difference between the US military and Muslim terrorists, but it's a fallacious one. The US military targets the military and delivers countries into freedom. Muslim terrorists target civilians with the hope of establishing a totalitarian state.

You can not reform the violence out of Islam. Terror is part of Islam's DNA. Where ever Muslims go, they make war on their neighbors and hosts to impose their religion, just as the Koran instructs them.

That's why American secular democracy is far superior to the barbaric Islamic sharia state. There's nothing in the American model which demands you agree with everyone and much to recommend that you don't. Best of all, there's nothing that compels us to attack anyone who doesn't attack us, as Islam compels you to attack any non-Muslim you see.

Hope you had a good time in America. I hope you noticed that you did not require armed guards as you walked around freely to defend you against Americans who wanted to kill you because you weren't Christian. You might note that there was no platoon of armed guards outside your hotel to top American religious fanatics from blowing you up.

Perhaps when you tame Islam enough so that guests in your country need not pass through metal detectors in the hotels, you can make a plausible claim that Islam is not violent.

For now, I hope you got a good look at America and soaked up a lot of lessons that you can apply to Egypt.

Wael Abbas said...

wala
enta aslan shaklak masry we betsee3 be roo7 ommak
amma law mosh masry
read the following:
you arrogant mother fucker!
you still beleive in books that say the white man is superior and has something to teach the primitive apes! and this is the white man's burden!
fuck you!
racists like you step on my nerves you little spit!

Wael Abbas said...

el wad dah masry ya ged3an
be nesbet 99% sure

Wael Abbas said...

wad min el neo cons betoo3 michael mounir bas wakhed 7o2an el "american dream" fel 3adal! if you know what i mean!

DFS said...

Tantor,

while one could write a whole essay in response to the ebook you just wrote, i think it would be futile because a wise man once said that it is useless to argue with the ignorant.
my only comments would be:
1. wow you're shallow;
and 2.go pick up a book somewhere and read it in silence and don't let anyone hear you talk like that, it gives a bad impression dear.

Wael Abbas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
zeinab said...

wow.

Tantor, normally I wouldn't reply to your comment, because I don't believe it's easy to convert bigots, and I don't waste my time trying to at home or anywhere else.But right now, I'm going to break fast with my crazy violent Muslim Arab family who if they knew I was speaking to a heathen christian on the evil internet would slaughter me like a sheep on Eid morning. So I'll reply to you after eating.
But seriously, wow.