I don’t know where Fjordman finds these things, but he sure has a knack for ferreting out the more interesting by-ways on the internet.
In this particular case, it’s “Rants and Raves,” a blog written by an American living in Eastern Europe. From his sidebar:
…I’ve lived in Poland, Bulgaria, Serbia and Saudi Arabia, and travel frequently to Lithuania, Belarus, Hungary and all over Eastern Europe. I met my wife in Poland and my son was born there. I started writing professionally there and was elected an Honorary Member of the Yugoslav Movement for the Protection of Human Rights in 1997. Politically I’m libertarian. (What kind? A sane one.) Culturally I’m an unashamed Western Civilization loyalist. Professionally I’m a teacher and writer, now pursuing higher education in the field of Journalism and Mass Communication, with the goal of teaching and research at the university level, likely in Eastern Europe…
You can find out more details on his blog, but – as interesting a life as he seems to lead (imagine: a Libertarian academic) what is more important is his method of participant observation whilst living among divers cultures.
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Particularly you need to read this one — Observations on Arabs, not only because this man survived working a year in Saudi Arabia, but he also brought with him the eye of an anthropologist. Thus, my reference to “participant observation.” It’s a good skill to have in any foreign culture (and America is certainly pretty foreign to those who arrive on our shores), but in Saudi Arabia, having an anthropologist’s eye might save your skin.
This blogger/anthropologist presents his caveats before going on to detail the Saudi culture:
In Eastern Europe and the South Balkans, whenever I have gone to live in a place which I had formed opinions about, the actual experience of living there has always radically changed those opinions, sometimes into a completely contradictory ones. Most often, my academic research led me to form a beautifully coherent model which experience turned into a semi-coherent collection of observations and tentative conclusions.
Eventually, he proceeds to a list. A list as in “let me count the ways I find thee strange…”
HIS PROLOGUE and DISCLAIMER:
one of the first things I learned was that the term “Arab” covers a lot of territory, here are some observations and some tentative conclusions about Arabs, more specifically about Arabs from the oil states about why we have misunderstood each other to the point that we are fighting a war with some of them and are pissing off the rest of them. I suspect that many of these also apply to Iranian Islamists, but I have never been there and note that Iranians are not Arabs and have a different cultural history.
Ain’t that the truth! So bear in mind that this is a delineation of Arab cultural differences, not Muslim bashing. The coincidence of Arab/Muslim is a close one, but not all Muslims are Arabs. And Arabs will be the first to point out, condescendingly, the difference.
He follows this with a list of differences between them and us —
1) They don’t think the same way we do.
No, I mean THEY REALLY DON’T THINK THE SAME WAY WE DO. Yes, yes, I know we are all human and share the same human nature (perhaps the most disastrous mistake of Marxism was the denial of this elementary fact). But within the scope of that shared human nature, there are a lot of different ways to be human. We Americans have a basically open attitude to our fellow human beings and sometimes forget this. Combined with the fact that most Americans are linguistic idiots, we tend to assume that anyone who learns to speak English learns to think like us…
And ending with Number 12—
12) Our civilization is destroying theirs. We cannot share a world in peace. They understand this; we have yet to learn it.
Another culturally-imposed blindness we have is the notion that everybody can get along with enough good will. There is absolutely no evidence to support this and a great deal to oppose it. Can the subjugation of women coexist with Western Civilization with Western media ubiquitous throughout the world? Can a pluralistic and tolerant society be governed by Islamic law? Can a modern economy exist where interest is forbidden and many forms of business risk-taking are considered gambling, and thus forbidden? Can a society that educates its young men by a process of rote recitation produce critically thinking, technically educated men to build and operate a modern economy? Can you even teach elementary concepts of maintenance to a people who believe that anything that happens is inshalla (As God will it)? To compete, or even just survive in the world they must become more like us and less like themselves – and they know this.
In between Numbers One and Twelve lies a treasure trove of information, some of which I’d intuited in reporting the more egregious behaviors of Saudis in this country. Others I’d never have guessed. Do yourself a favor and read the rest of the list. You’ll find out why “Inshallah” can be laziness, quietism, or a lie. In fact, learn about lying, and about why Arabs are so different from the Scots-Americans who form the backbone of America’s broad middle culture that…that we might as well be from different solar systems.
This is one academic who is neither an equivocator or a relativist. I guarantee you a good introduction to the subject.
In the meantime, I still wonder how Fjordman finds these places. Thanks are due…to both men, one for finding this gem, and the other for sharing his knowledge.
Go, therefore, and learn.
Just a note you seem to have omitted the link to the most excellent Observations on Arabs post
Interesting reading this because as you might know, I’m also in Eastern Europe, also with an Eastern European lady and also in a university wreaking havoc.
The world is blind. A menace is growing every day. It does not grow on a unified front. It is not organized as a country. It does not have a seat at the UN. Some of its membership worldwide are not participating in open acts of violence, yet the insidious oppressive nature of this force finds its ways in through the front door of openness and inclusion. Openness and Inclusion are doctrines of the West. They are noble and just. But taken to the extreme, these doctrines can bring in division and oppression. Peace at any price, meaning the absence of conflict, is the most costly form of peace. It means submission. The world, primarily the West, is submitting. This is the aim of the adherents to the peaceful force that I am describing. Islam.
To offend somebody in the western Islamic community can bear either violent consequences or western societal submission. The moment speech is abridged, true freedom dies. The moment a woman in Western Civilization hesitates going into public dressed in a certain manner, true freedom dies. The moment law enforcement turns from protecting law abiding citizens, true freedom dies. When the predominating reason for tolerance is precipitated by fear, freedom dies.
Western society has two choices. Vanquish, or be vanquished.
Islam, by its nature, is not a status quo worldview. It is a jealous master. It will not submit by choice. If you doubt, open your eyes and read the Quran and the Hadith. Then read history. You can not come away from this study and find a worldview compatible with Western Civilization. This study coupled with today’s headlines is a loud message from over a billion Muslims. It is visible everywhere, even in the UN. To miss this, one must willfully choose to disbelieve glaring evidence.
Understand, these encroachments on liberty will continue, and like a snowball at the top of a mountain, the onslaught will grow in size and speed. Ask yourself, why do I want to accept and appease Islamists? Is it because of your openness, your respect for multiculturalism? Or are you now starting to fear deep down inside. The hurried frenzy to negotiate and appease a fascist dictator in Iran is a great example of this problem. Iran will become a nuclear power if the world just keeps on negotiating.
How does it make you feel? Ahmadinejad, Iran’s President, has stated numerous times that the Holocaust did not happen. He has also on numerous occasions called for the Muslim world to envisage a world without Israel. He is very direct in his statements. Ahmadinejad is not alone. There is a hunger in the Muslim world to see the destruction of Israel. It is not just Arabs. It is Muslims worldwide that desire the eventual removal of Israel from the map.
If you choose to willfully ignore the facts and believe that the threat can be negotiated with and contained, you are mistaken. Again, I ask you to conduct your own study. Read the Quran and the Hadith. Then read history. You can not come away from this study and find a worldview compatible Western Civilization. This study coupled with today’s headlines is a loud message. It is visible everywhere, even in the UN. To miss this, one must willfully choose to disbelieve glaring evidence.
“In rhetoric, they don’t mean to be taken seriously…” — Observations on Arabs. So how can one tell when a threat, say to wipe out the State of Israel, is just rhetoric? (Yes, I know Ahmadinejad isn’t Arab, but maybe similar rules apply.)
Wow—thanky fer the link to this fine fella–them Eastern Europeans oughta know–they have lived through some islamic hell.
And thanky too ter Bubba–mah mah, honey chile’ that is passionate clarification of the “truth nobody wants to know”.
Thanks for pointing this out. What a brilliant man with a refreshing perspective.
Yes, the guy has an excellent blog. He just started it in August. (Finally, another candid blogger who lived in Arabia!)
I commented on the “Observations on Arabs” post a few days ago. It’s amazing to see how so many of his conclusions jive with mine:
Unveiling Saudi Arabia
He’s amusing as well. In another post he opines, tongue-in-cheek, “there are many liberal church-goers, who probably aren’t going just to spite Ann Coulter.”
I commented on this and some other similar stuff in Tribalism.