Those inimitable words of an old friend of mine.
Am in a really anti-Arab mood these days. And I say that without guilt because am getting so sick of the way we seem to think we're so great. We need criticism from within and we need it badly. And so in doing my part, I feel am being a true Arab patriot - an inconvenience given my well-publicized opinion of patriotism but whatever.
The causes of my current disillusionment are many & varied. Some personal & some less so.
A brief listing would include but may not be limited to:
1) Palestinians killing each other.
2) Iraqis killing each other.
3) An Arab Talk Show host gloating over the possibility of Turkey invading Iraqi Kurdistan. You see, the Kurds deserve it for not being grateful to Saddam for 'recognizing their culture'.
Yeah, Saddam recognized their culture alright - LONG ENOUGH TO GAS THEM YOU RACIST PIG!
4) Northern Sudanese friends responding to the plight of Darfurian refugees by blaming the Darfurians for being 'American Stooges'.
Excuse me? A government-backed Arab militia proceeds to ethnically cleanse Darfur of non-Arabs out of PURE GREED. And when the people of Darfur do all they can do in a situation like this - which is go to everyone & anyone who is willing to try to help them where their own government has turned against them, they're American Stooges?
Well maybe, if you didn't kill them because of their race, they wouldn't need foreign help.
When are Arabs going to realize that you can't constantly create situations where your 'internal problems' create hundreds of thousands of refugees for the rest of the world to support AND destabilize neighboring countries and then throw around empty words like 'SOVERIGNTY' and 'INDEPENDENCE'. Soverignty & independance mean being able to take care of your own people without becoming a threat to others.
5) The mother of a girlfriend of mine not wanting her daughter to mix with me because I wear mini-skirts & she suspects I may have slept with my husband before marriage.
Which wouldn't bother me so much if the same woman didn't consider 9/11 the greatest moment of Arab glory in modern times.
What kind of warped moral framework considers a miniskirt & consensual sex more of a moral threat than the cold-blooded murder of thousands of defenceless human beings?
6) The often-repeated argument that people deserve to die for not getting rid of governments that do things we don't like.
Excuse me? What about our own governments? And what about the millions of ordinary, law-abiding Arabs who wouldn't hurt a fly but who think slaughtering Iranians, Kurds, Berbers, Darfurians, Israelis, Americans etc.....is a good thing?
If people deserve to die for their political opinions, then why don't we look at ourselves?
7) Two Emaratis kidnap 2 French teenagers and rape one of them. One of the rapists is HIV-positive which means the poor kid's health & life is now threatened.
Predictably enough, the government tries to cover up the incident by persuading the victims not to press charges. Because protecting our image is so much more important than taking 2 rapists - one of them an HIV-carrier - off the streets before they hurt someone else.
When the coverup fails, half the Arabs I know react by blaming the media for always trying to make Arabs look bad.
Reality Check: The media doesn't make you look bad. YOU MAKE YOURSELVES LOOK BAD BY DEFENDING RAPISTS JUST BECAUSE THEY'RE ARAB!
Is that so hard to figure out?
8) A couple we know previously mentioned here will only give their alms (zaqat & sadaqa) to Muslim charities. Why? Because Muslims shouldn't give to a non-Muslim when Muslims are needy. So we should let a starving infant die just because he/she is not a Muslim.
And meanwhile, when Muslims need aid, they should accept it quite happily from non-Muslims. We're allowed to take from others, you see, just not to give to them.
I wish it was an isolated case but I know a lot of people like that - people who won't give to the Red Cross because it's not the Red Crescent. And even people who won't donate to Afghan charities for example because Afgans are not Arabs & 'alaqraboon awla bilma3roof'.
9) A girl I know, speaking on the subject of my dress code (AGAIN) holds up an example for me. Who is this paragon I am required to follow I hear you ask? A mutual acquaintance who wears hijab but has a married boyfriend DESPITE BEING MARRIED HERSELF.
Apparently, I am wrong for what I wear, but she is right because she keeps up the public image while secretly committing adultery & jeopordizing TWO marriages.
I kid you not. It went something like this:
Me and her are sitting on the sofa in the lobby of a hotel, waiting for our Tai-Chi class to begin. A pervert who had followed me in all the way from the carpark makes a point of passing very close infront of us about 10 times, each time almost twisting his neck by failing to take his eyes off my legs. I am about to get up & go to the security desk. She said no need for 'fadaye7'(scandals), we weren't there for long.
She convinced me she was right. We had to go for our training anyway. He couldn't very well follow us in there, could he?
So we attend the class, have our showers & change and when we come out 2 hrs later, the guy is still in the lobby. We head out to my car & he is following.
He wasn't doing anything really bad - just openly staring & leering in a really disgusting manner. Trying to stare him down didn't work. He wouldn't look me in the face so I couldn't catch his eye.
This time, I had it. I marched back into the lobby & reported him. A security guy came out into the carpark with us & I pointed out the guy. Then without looking back, my friend & I walked to my car & drove off.
On the way, she gave me the lecture about my shorts being the cause of the incident. She said it was bad enough that we were Morrocan girls in a hotel lobby without me making things worse by wearing shorts etc....blah blah blah.
Then seamlessly enough, she went into the story of this other female who apparently knows how to play the game while I don't. The idea was basically '7abibti, no one is saying you can't have fun. Just don't give people cause to talk about you.'
We Arabs are really all about image, aren't we?
Why is it that everytime I try to move out of my comfortable circle of very close friends & relatives, I find myself so disappointed in my fellow Arabs? I am trying very hard now not to get in too deep with new people - to keep it light & impersonal, just so they don't wind up saying or doing something that will make me even more pessimistic about my own people?
On the public arena, I can't help but wonder why non-Arabs should have any empathy for us when we show such little tolerance for ourselves or others? Now when I talk to non-Arabs, I find it so hard to ask for justice or understanding or defend the Arab causes I was brought up to defend so passionately. Not because I don't believe in the causes anymore, I do. I just don't feel we as a people are entitled to ask others to care about us when we really don't seem to care about anyone.
And in private, given the fact that I will shortly be leaving the Arab world for good, I could have wished that certain things had not been brought so forcefully to my notice at this time in particular. I wanted better memories. I wanted to go away liking 'us' a little better.
I mean, I hope to have children (Inshallah) and bring them up abroad, right? So what do I tell them about their heritage? I would want them to be proud of their roots but definitely watch out & not be infected with any of these Arab 'diseases of the mind'.
Quite a balancing act, I guess.