Yes, it's just one experience in a foreign land....but that forieng land is freaking Tunisia...
Originally posted by Michael Totten on TechCentralStation, 8/11/04It was in Douz, Tunisia, an oasis in the deep south of the country at the edge of the Sahara, that I met the shopkeeper Jamel.
"Everything is free today!" he said as my wife Shelly and I approached his carpet and pottery shop.
"Everything?" I said.
"Everything," he said. "You're from England?"
"No, from America."
His eyes turned to saucers and he took a step back. Few Americans go to Tunisia. I didn't see one in two weeks. "Welcome to Tunisia!" he said and put his hand on his heart. "You must come sit and have tea with me." He didn't want to sell us anything. He just wanted to talk. That's how it goes in Tunisia if you're an American.
Word has it most Arabs hate America. That may be the case. Plenty are mad for one reason or other at least. You could be fooled, though, if you walk the right Arab "street." Tunisia is 98 percent Arab Muslim, but it's no hostile bastion of fundamentalism. Whatever gripes Tunisians may have about us, they certainly don't make it personal....
....The next night in the Berber town of Matmata we met a pair of German travelers -- Michael and Jung. Both were in their 30s, like us. They were great guys. Traveled every year together, always to Muslim countries. Thought Europe was boring. Hoped, like us, to travel to Libya next. Tried, like us, and failed to get into Libya this trip. We shared a hookah with them, and that's when Shelly asked them the question: "Are you two ever invited to sit down for tea?"
They looked at each other, surprised at the question.
"By Tunisians?" Jung asked.
"By Tunisians," she said.
And they looked at each other again. "No," they both said.
No tea for the Germans. For God's sake, why not? They were friendly, respectful, interested in the country and the culture, perfectly charming, and they both spoke the language -- well, they spoke French at any rate, Tunisia's second language. Yet no one ever asked them to tea.
They came to the same conclusion as Shelly and I; we got asked to tea because we're Americans. I feel awkward about this, and I can't explain why it happens. I don't want special treatment, and I certainly don't expect it. That's just the way it is in Tunisia right now. Anti-Americanism isn't quite what it's cracked up to be.
I felt more welcome traveling in Tunisia than anywhere else I've ever been in my life. Partly this is no more than the legendary Arab hospitality, which I'm happy to report is alive, well, and understated. Even so, I'm more convinced now than before that the Terror War is strictly ideological. It has little or nothing to do with any clash of civilizations. If Tunisians thought me their enemy they chose a peculiar way to express it.
Interesting read, if only for the culture aspect...
I would say most of the people of the world are fine with us as I hope we are with them, except the French of course. Governments aren't always true indicators of people. Honestly, I havenj't read alot saying that the average world Joe and Jane hate us.
Originally posted by DrDirtI would say most of the people of the world are fine with us as I hope we are with them, except the French of course. Governments aren't always true indicators of people. Honestly, I havenj't read alot saying that the average world Joe and Jane hate us.
Hate is too strong of a word. Most of the Middle East hates you. Most of the rest of the world just dislikes Americans in general. I went backpacking through Europe and parts of Russia pre-9/11 and there was a dislike for Americans (Loud, obnoxious, our country is great to live in too, etc) but there wasn't really any venom behind it and they could easily be swayed be a nice American. However, the American tourists I ran across in several different countries didn't do anything to help your cause. :b France was different but they seem to hate anything that's not French. I even speak French but they quickly turned on me when they realized that it wasn't my first language.
Some of my friends recently got back from a similar trip this year and they say that there is more venom behind the dislike but it's not for the American public, its for George W. Bush. IMO, that's not a good kind of dislike. The first kind is probably part jealousy and part stereotypes being re-enforced by tourists. The strong dislike for a President is not a good thing.
If you want to clean up the world of all the evil dictators (that was the reason for Iraq now, right?) then you're going to need the world on your side. Look at how taxing a War in Iraq has been on the economy and the military. Unless you're ready to make an incredible amount of personal sacrifices and re-institute the draft, I think you're screwed if a North Korea goes bonkers.
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Here is the problem to me. I understand sharing music, books, and other intellectual property, however, with digital technology and the internet, protection of one's intellectual property is almost impossible.