Saturday, November 03, 2007

The Patriot and the Racist: a tale of two citizens

Israel is an ally of the US and is rewarded handsomely for it. They are there holding the front in the Middle East against the barbarians (that would be the Arabs - for those who don't know their 101 of the Middle East).

The US is waging a 'war on terror' which has been kind of dragging on, I'm not going to get into the discussion that it seems to have increased terror and not reduced it because this depends from which angle one is looking at it.



However, the point is that the US is in Iraq since 2003, and it is not leaving soon ( even next year is not soon enough) . So it needed/needs to have intelligent people on the ground or at least people who use intelligence to their advantage. That translates into people who know local language and culture. Unfortunately regardless of the purported mission to liberate Iraq - after the weapons of mass destruction turned out not to be there - and with 'free Iraq' turning into THE centre for world terrorism; the Iraqis and by extension other Arabs have become the enemy numero UNO ( OK I'm not forgetting that 9/11 had a lot to do with Arabs labelled with terrorism). Basically this means that American soldiers are not feeling safe in Iraq and need to learn some etiquette of the culture in addition to Arabic because their indigenous translators are being hunted down.

You're now wondering where is this post heading? well hold on be patient.... The US government realised a bit late that Arabic is really an important language for its world operations ( I'm tempted to write dominance). Problem is it's easier for Arabs to learn English ( or any other language ) than for Anglophones to learn Arabic. It gets worse when we learn that members of the military despite the security need do not really feel motivated to learn Arabic because they cannot pick up dates.

Basically, "if American soldiers want to learn the Iraqi dialect, they're going to have to spend many long hours in cafes with Iraqi men, drinking tea, playing backgammon, arguing about soccer, and watching Al Jazeera"

So when native Arabic speakers ( including US citizens some not even Muslim - if that could be a valid reason) step in to fill this gap and show their patriotism by training the marines in Camp Pendleton for essential survival in Iraq become terror suspects because they spoke Arabic on a plane ( hattip Angry Arab) then something is definetly wrong .

" The six men were segregated and detained while the airline helped more than 100 passengers find hotel rooms".

What kind of signal does that send to Americans of Arab descent? that their patriotism and love of the country is never equal to that of non-Arab Americans? That America is not united in how it views its sons and daughters?

Is that the face of prejudice speaking? It seems that people are conditioned to believe that non-English speakers are the enemy always.

"Now a group of psychologists is suggesting that such potentially fatal language prejudice may be one of the earliest lessons we learn in life. Researchers at Harvard and the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales have found that infants as young as five months old prefer speakers of their own language to speakers of other languages, even before they themselves can talk. They even prefer speakers of their native dialects (Spelke et al., “The native language of social cognition.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, July 24, 2007)." [source]

Apparently "language is a political issue in the U.S., and both sides in the American immigration and language war will greet this research as reinforcing their position [..] it seems pretty clear that exposure to other languages early on in American history, during colonization, through the first waves of immigration and since the post-1965 immigration boom, hasn’t produced universal tolerance in this country, linguistic or otherwise. Instead, it’s reinforced the American preference for monolingualism and magnified demands for assimilation or expulsion.
The historical American rejection of foreign languages stems not from a preference for “our own kind” but rather from a false sense that the U.S is so special, so powerful, so imbued with divine mission, that we don’t really need the rest of the world, or its Babel of languages, to get by. "

Maybe just maybe stooping to learn a foreign language could actually bread diversity and tolerance. If the woman on the plane could understand Arabic she may have learned that the other passengers maybe talking about how sexy the stewardess really is :P or that they are as great an ally as Israelis, perhaps more than she ever will be. For a country priding itself on tolerance it is painful to see such suspicion and racism, yet I stand in awe at it's justice system because the mistreated passengers are now allowed to sue the airlines!

Still I'm wondering who in this story is the real patriot and who is a waste of taxpayers money?

38 comments:

Gheriani said...

I liked your "yet I stand in awe at it's justice system because the mistreated passengers are now allowed to sue the airlines!", because that signifies for me the enigma of the U.S.of A. It's a paradox probably uncomparable to anything preceeding in old history.
Could we say that this administration made the ugliest face of America ever?

Gheriani said...

Checking my email after reading ur post I read this item of news from Cair's newsletter, and thought that it might interest you: Quote "The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) today thanked three companies in that state that have agreed to drop their advertisements from Michael Savage's nationally-syndicated radio program because of the host's recent anti-Muslim tirade.
http://www.cair.com/" Unquote.
It's another world!

Curt from Houston said...

"it's easier for Arabs to learn English ( or any other language ) than for Anglophones to learn Arabic. "
Sorry H. but it's hard for us here in the West to come up with a convincing reason to learn a language that not only doesn't share our alphabet, but doesn't even have a native word for screwdriver.

Maya M said...

Finally a good war post! I was already beginning to think that the war had ended without me noticing :).
"So when native Arabic speakers, including US citizens, some not even Muslim... become terror suspects because they spoke Arabic on a plane... then something is definitely wrong."
Highlander, kill me if I understand why something is wrong here!
In fact, I see such a thing (though hardly the same thing you see). Namely, that while many of the most intelligent Arabs actively participate in the war against the West, the latter relies for its defence on some of its least intelligent people. To speak Arabic on a plane! What exactly could they expect?
(BTW it is considered major violation of the etiquette when you speak in public a language not spoken by the people surrounding you, if you can speak also a language understandable for them. I don't feel happy at all when my foreign students speak Greek, Turkish or Arabic in the classroom, possibly discussing how sexy, or how opposite of sexy, I am. But this is just a distraction, who would care about politeness in a war zone.)
It is not written on people's foreheads whether they are Muslim and on which side they stand in the war. So, if you can recognize (but not understand) Arab speech, the only thing you will know for sure about these people is that they speak, to put it bluntly, the language of the enemy.
Imaging somebody speaking German in a US bus in 1944. Would you expect people to welcome this?
In the former Soviet block, people's attitude to Russian was always regarded as showing their attitude to the USSR and the Communist regime. And indeed, while many people disliking the regime were fluent in Russian, no one of them would even consider speaking it in public (except during a Russian lesson). On the contrary, people loyal to the regime often used Russian words in their Bulgarian speech and even gave their children Russian names or nicknames. (Our current Prime Minister Sergey Stanishev is an example of such a child. Guess whether he is a good ruler of Bulgaria.)
I hope that the passengers in question will show their patriotism by not bringing the case to the court. But I suppose that even if they do bring it and win, the suspicious attitude toward Arab speakers will persist. Because, even if an air company doesn't care about the lives of crew and passengers, it should care about its profits. And experience has shown that a company can endure losing some lawsuits, but having a plane destroyed by terrorists will most likely drive it out of business.

Maya M said...

I thought that the passenger who expressed security concerns was an Israeli, but I've just read the source and I didn't see any information of this kind.
So why the reference to Israel?

Adam said...

I was looking through my back yard, and guess what I found? Some fresh firewood!! Look:

American soldiers need to learn a bit of humbleness even more than this or that dialect of Arabic. The Brits in Basra were (well, at least initially) doing a lot better than the US troops further north; They were on much better terms with the local population. Who will say this was because of language skills? I reply humble attitude.

As long as the US troops approach the place with the attitude that “we are the best in the world” and “everyone is a threat” they will have trouble in gaining popularity.

Let me tell you a true story. A friend of mine was doing relief/construction work in Afghanistan. He does not look one bit Arabic, and is not particularly pro-Arabic. Yet when I asked him about dangers what he feared most, guess what the answer was. Those bearded dudes in black and long beards sitting on the back of pickup trucks? Nope. Those all-Caucasian dudes in US uniforms sitting in their jeeps? Yes! Why? Because they were (1) really scared, (2) trigger happy.

I do not blame those kids on the ground BTW. They have been ripped from secure lives back home and thrown into the lion’s mouth. Those “four-star-clowns in Washington” * seem totally unaware of the practical post-war problems. “Terminate the enemy” is their only goal, but they have no concept of securing peace. I am talking about gaining the trust of the civilian population. So how can the kids have any concept of that, when their generals do not?

(And of course, Blackwater and other such jolly fellows, make the task of winning hearts and minds a lot more difficult.)

* quote from Apocalypse Now

PH said...

"but doesn't even have a native word for screwdriver"

I thought the native word for screwdriver in Arabic was :

مفك

Here is an example of English words of Arabic origin.

Simple examples of such words include :

Admiral, Algebra, Algorithm, Checkmate, Chess, cotton , mattress , mask, mummy, orange, safari, spinach, sugar, syrup ..... and there are many more.

Maya M said...

For Arabs and other non-native English speakers, learning English is tremendously rewarding, because it is the current world language. E.g. English is enough to give you access to the modern scientific literature. No other language offers a similar reward.
Every learner of a foreign language other than English takes the risk of making a huge investment of time, efforts and often money and then receiving no benefit. In school, I made much efforts to learn German. Then I had practically no use of it, apart from translating two or three instruction manuals of equipment made in the GDR (today's Germany of course would never sell any product without an instruction manual in English).
What opportunities gives knowledge of Arabic to a non-Arab? The chance to become a professional Arabist (this is for few), to know the language of the host country or the business partners (for those who work in or trade with Arab countries), to read the original Quran (for Muslims) and to understand the enemy (for active combatants). To sum up, most people would gain nothing in return to the trouble of learning such a difficult language.
Also, the signals coming from the Arabic community aren't exactly advertising the language. E.g. I remember a post by Ghazi:
http://imtidad.blogspot.com/2007/05/blog-post_22.html
From this and other sources, I have the impression that rulers of Arab societies have tried to stop the development of the language, which resulted in a split between official and spoken language. (The same thing has happened with Greek, and Greeks have described it to me as a very unfortunate event.)
So the learner of Arabic faces the additional danger of studying it duly for years and ending up with the ability to read the Quran but not to buy groceries.

Curt from Houston said...

"Here is an example of English words of Arabic origin.

Simple examples of such words include :

Admiral, Algebra, Algorithm, Checkmate, Chess, cotton , mattress , mask, mummy, orange, safari, spinach, sugar, syrup ..... and there are many more."

Yes, thats very nice. Now check out the number of words of Greek and Roman origin. It pretty much makes your argument silly in modern terms.

Curt from Houston said...

Sorry once again for any duplicate posts H, but your comments interface makes it extremely difficult to know when your post has been accepted the way you have it set up.

Curt from Houston said...

"...and with 'free Iraq' turning into THE centre for world terrorism..."

I kinda of thought that that was one of the main reasons for the invasion.

I can't help but notice that we've killed allot of terrorists over there instead of them murdering any more of our people here. I'm good with that.

Curt from Houston said...

"The US government realised a bit late that Arabic is really an important language for its world operations..."

Not late, but yeah, the word is "oil". We're working really hard on that problem as we speak.

Curt from Houston said...

"Basically this means that American soldiers are not feeling safe in Iraq..."

Neither is Al Qaeda since the death toll is running about ten to one in our favor. Funny how overwhelming firepower will do that for an army. By the way, I hear that our buddy Ossama is having his own recruiting problems of late.

Speaking of which, have you ever noticed how the Imams and Mullahs that are all for young people strapping on a C4 happy vest and walking into a crowded market place to have a little 72 Virgins fun never seen to get around to doing it themselves.

Curt from Houston said...

"( OK I'm not forgetting that 9/11 had a lot to do with Arabs labelled with terrorism)."

I hate to sound like a broken record, but please see:

http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/

NOMAD said...

arab countries speak either english or french too

my impression since I go everywhere on the blogosphere ; the americans are seriouly thinking of the necessity to learn "arab" and "french" for military purposes ; they developped recently a PC program for soldiers who are involved in ME and North Africa.

well, as far as I am concerned, I am not thinking of learning "arab", that would be if I would learn "latin".

It would be more accurate if the people would think about learning "chinese", because in the next years, this country is going to lead the world

LouLou said...

At the risk of sounding argumentative, I think as Arabs, we tend to be too concerned with what Americans think of us & how Americans treat us.

I mean, what is the percentage of Arabs who travel on American Airlines?

The vast majority of the world's Arabs live in the Arab world & the discrimination, racial & sectarian hatred & simple, unadorned persecution of the weak that exists in the Arab world makes these 6 look pretty fortunate to me.

I mean, just try to picture what would have happened to them if they had been Arabs perceived as a threat on an Arab airline or to an Arab leader.

They would have gone 'wara elshams' for the forseeable future. And there would have been no newspaper article & no blog posts & no comments on their fate.

LouLou said...

Sorry that's the after-effect of reading Malika Oufkir's 'La Prisonniere'.

It's about a mother & children thrown in a desert prison for 20 years in near-starvation conditions because their father was a political opponent of Hasan II.

If it wasn't for interference & support from the West - which came 20 years too late btw - this family would not have lived to live the details.

And so many like them don't live to tell the tale.

shlemazl said...

Yeah, alright.

I was pulled out of the crowd and searched at a US airport because I bought a ticket on the eve of the departure. And everyone has to take there shoes off all the time and we can't take liquids on board.

The fact we are checked - 99.999% of the time for the wrong reason - makes us all that little bit safer. As a frequent flier, I don't grumble.

There are lots and lots of reasons that trigger security checks. Having a group of 6 young male Arabs on board does not seem like a bad reason for an extra security check.

Just wish they did it on 9/11.

Maya M said...

Excuse me for writing a third comment, but I don't see why you labelled the passenger who expressed security concerns as racist.
As far as I know, nobody has ever argued that Arabs are genetically prone to terrorism. It is a cultural thing.
I would also feel uncomfortable if flying with Arabs (esp. if the flight is to, from or inside the USA). It has nothing to do with racism. I would feel equally uncomfortable if I know that some of my white fellow passengers are converts to Islam. Because there have been many terrorist converts, regardless of their racial affiliation, including Richard Reid who tried to shoe-bomb a plane.
I am not the only one who considers the current Muslim, esp. Arab cultures strongly pro-terror. And the misnamed "war on terror" is doomed to "drag on" as long as it is directed solely against the relatively few actual terrorists and does not address the ideology behind them and the masses of people who bring up, fund and otherwise support the terrorists, and who after each terror attack say that the people to blame aren't as much these hotheads as the governments who support Israel/ send troops to Afghanistan/ send troops to Iraq/ protect cartoonists or filmmakers mocking Islam/ whatever.
I have written before that the modern West is plagued by the multi-culti political correctness saying that all cultures are good in all respects (excepting, of course, the evil Western culture).
Eh well, I don't think so. I think that what is bad is bad and cannot become good by being practiced by a large number of people, regardless of whether they share a language or an ethnic background. And all cultures that haven't a drive to universal moral values trouble me because they either are hostile or can become so any minute. It is my impression that most Arabs don't even try to see what is universally right but instead look for "our team" and support it. It can be seen and I tried to explain it in the discussion to this Anglo's post:
http://anglolibyan.blogspot.com/2007/07/070707.html

Benghazi Citizen said...

I enjoyed reading your post,and the comments too..
This subject is of vital importance...Some americans may argue that(it's easier for Arabs to learn English ( or any other language ) than for Anglophones to learn Arabic. "),,Yes,that's right,but not because of the mentioned reasons..Many had comments about the american pride,and i must add my voice to them..No language is difficult to study,British Empire soldiers through out their dominance were quite skilled in this field,they knew their empire survival depended on their attitude ,They learnt local customs and languages in all provinces of the empire,that caused them to survive for quite some time..
America(Or as some rigt wingers call it EMPIRE) is so proud ,so self concerned,it took years to convence them to get into WW2 ,and yet they do that after pearl harbour..
American beleive that their way of life is he best,we don't need to learn about others,others need to embrace the american way of life,,even if those (OTHERS) are people who show no interest in aerican way of life and yet being occupied by the USA...
During WW2,a loyal americans of Japanese origins suffered a lot from the public and the law enforcement agencies,in most cases with out a good reason...
I believe that America is a grea nation,no doubt ,but mix that with irrational pride and and the misleading feeling of being right all the time ,u get ur self the nightmares of intolerance and racism
Excellent post
Regards
Benghazi Citizen

Adam said...

PC,
if you read this please take note. Whilst I most of the time disagree with your opinions I do appreciate the sharpness and intelligence of your comments. We miss you.

Adam said...

And Curt:
"...and with 'free Iraq' turning into THE centre for world terrorism..."
I kinda of thought that that was one of the main reasons for the invasion.


Nope, it wasn't the main reason. It was the main pretext. Saddam was a bad guy, no doubt, but he hated al Qaeda as much as we do. Anyone with a any clue on the Sunni/Shiite conflict will understand this.

And I am not alone in saying this. The truth is beginning to creep out. Googling will get you a lot of credible sources for example this CNN item:

"The underlying intelligence simply did not support the administration's repeated assertions that Iraq had provided chemical and biological weapons training to al Qaeda," said Levin, also a member of the Intelligence Committee.


Click!

Maya M said...

Adam, I am surprised and delighted that you miss PC! So do I, of course. By the way, does anyone know what happened to NBA? It must have been centuries since he posted last.
I disagree with Benghazi Citizen about Americans forcing their way of life on others. Strictly speaking, I don't know about other countries, but here they don't force me to watch Hollywood movies (I don't), to eat hamburgers (I prefer shawarma and falafel sandwiches), to drink Coke (I like it actually), to have a car (we have a family one, that is, my husband drives), or to buy a house (I wouldn't mind it at all).
And as far as I know, US occupying forces in Iraq don't build churches, while relatively recent Muslim immigrants are allowed to build mosques in the USA. Testimony by Lost Libyano (I miss him also). He once wrote about a mosque on his campus and complained that they preached just good deeds there and not a word about armed struggle.

Curt from Houston said...

Shlemazi wrote:

"The fact we are checked - 99.999% of the time for the wrong reason - makes us all that little bit safer. As a frequent flier, I don't grumble."

Shlemazi, since I sport a beard, I am also checked 100% of the time since 9/11. I have yet to go through an airport without being pulled aside and given a thorough going over along with my carry on baggage. Usually, they then pull my checked baggage for a quick looksy as well. This always involves me removing my shoes and getting a pat down as well a wanding. That's just the way it is now.

Curt from Houston said...

"Basically, "if American soldiers want to learn the Iraqi dialect, they're going to have to spend many long hours in cafes with Iraqi men, drinking tea, playing backgammon, arguing about soccer, and watching Al Jazeera""

While that sounds all nice and friendly and touchy feely, I do believe that that could be highly detrimental to the American soldiers health, given the nature of the insurgency in that country. Therein leys the fundamental problem with the war in Iraq. The American soldiers have no way of knowing just who the enemy is until they strike. This doesn't leave much room for socialization. This is by the design of the terrorists who understand that they cannot allow the Americans to become popular. That would mean the end to their support among the populace.

I have read numerous anonymous interviews with Iraqis who say that they publicly protest the American presence while privately hoping that the Americans stay in Iraq long enough to stabilize the government and drive out the crazies.

This is my wish as well. I want my countrymen in Iraq only as long as it takes to insure that the Islamofascists won’t come to power after we leave.

P.S.

Before the wailing and gnashing of teeth starts about my use of the term Islam fascists; No I don't believe that all or even most followers of Islam are Fascistic. I refer specifically to those who are currently engaged in imposing their version of radical Islam not only on the world, but also on their more moderate brothers and sisters.

Curt from Houston said...

"Saddam was a bad guy, no doubt, but he hated al Qaeda as much as we do. Anyone with any clue on the Sunni/Shiite conflict will understand this."

Adam, while I agree with you that Saddam had no love for al Qaeda; I don't doubt for a second he would reach an accommodation with them or any other terrorist group if it advanced his own agenda.

Maya M said...

Reading again Benghazi Citizen's comment, it seems to me that it must reflect an opinion popular in the Arabic public space. I think so because it sounds quite confidently but without any pompousness, as if its author just reminds things known to everybody. Of course I may be wrong. If I had learned Arabic, I would know for sure.
The first paragraph of Highlander's text also creates the same impression in me. In fact, it sounds so unlike Highlander that the first time I read it, I stopped to check for quotation marks.
I don't see how Israel benefits the USA by "holding the front against the barbarians", because I don't think that if Israel ceases to exist, Arabs would attack another country the way they attack Israel. I don't see any benefits for the USA from Israel at all. According to Paul Johnson, Pres. Rousevelt also didn't see any use of a Jewish state and if he hadn't died at that time, Israel would never be created.
To me, the US support to Israel is a good example of value-based policy. Some people disagree and say that the USA always cares only about their interests. I ask, "What about the Bosnian war? There wasn't any oil in Bosnia, was there?" The answer is, "The Americans thought that the help to Bosnian Muslims would make all Muslims love them. But the Muslims aren't so stupid." Then I ask, "What possible move of the USA would make you admit that they have acted based on values?" My opponent is first taken aback, then says that there is nothing the USA could do that would convince him. Then of course I stop arguing.
Talking about the "handsome reward" - I know that the USA supports Palestine, too. Not as "handsomely" as Israel, but even this seems too much for me, keeping in mind that the Palestinians will never even say a kind word about the Americans. A friend of mine once gave money to a begger and then overheard him saying swear words about her. Of course she never gave anything more to him.

Maya M said...

The mention of "barbarians" is interesting. BTW this was how Ilan Halimi's murderers (who were Muslims but not Arabs) called themselves.
Though I find it OK sometimes, for the sake of rhetorics, to call the Islamists "barbarians", I think it is incorrect and the current Arab Islamist culture, similarly to the cultures that have waged wars against the West before, is a highly advanced one.
Of course it has many primitive elements, but I think that they are deliberately kept alive and reintroduced, if necessary, in societies that had left them behind in their natural course of development. (E.g. the hijabs and niqabs.) Similarly, in Nazi Germany the proclaimed ideal citizen was a brave macho type with very well developed muscles (who is a natural ideal in hunter-gatherer tribes but anachronism in 20th century Europe). The same ideal, though less evident, was reintroduced in the Soviet Union. In Japan, a myth that the Emperor descended from the solar goddess was invented and imposed.
As Popper explains, every time when an open society is emerging, many people cannot endure its burden and fiercely resist, trying to bring back the lost paradise of the tribal world. The first recorded conflict of this kind took place in ancient Greece. I strongly suspect that the initial introduction of Islam was another example.
Perhaps some Westerners find the Arab world "barbarian" because it is clearly behind in science and technology. But I find it a wise strategy. Islamists seem to find sci/tech useful only for war. But the Western culture is open, so its enemies can access and use practically all of its achievements. So it isn't worth the trouble to develop these fields and block as scientists and engineers young people who could become excellent combatants.

NOMAD said...

BEWOLF, the movie

hey, can you bring back that middle-age poem of Bewolf ?

Nightwalker said...

hay,as a 16 year old libyan guy with a lot of relationships with western and european people, ive noticed that not only a very few western people want to learn arabic, but they also make fun of it. Sad but true, im not saying that it is the case in all cases or most of them, but it exists. In addition, right now in america, americans have developed this phobia that is not only based on language, but on religion and skin colour as well. And right now, its kind hard for an arab to go live in america if he had absoloutely no connections there or anyone that he knows. Thats my own opinion, it maybe wrong, but thats what i think.
P.S: i gotta blogspot too, if anyone wants to check it out, www.addictivepoetry.blogspot.com

Adam said...

Maya,
I think all of us warmly miss NBA.

I cannot say I know what happened to him, but I still fell I understand him a bit. I think that blogging took a bit too much of his energies from more important things in life (yes, such things exist) and that he decided to put his efforts where they were needed.

As for PC, as well as the-Libyan-with-many-names, as I prefer to call him: they have disappeared and reappeared before. So maybe hope is not lost...

NOMAD said...

"The mention of "barbarians" is interesting. BTW this was how Ilan Halimi's murderers (who were Muslims but not Arabs) called themselves."

I am surprised you call yourself a scientist, because of this very sentence I can just see how your an adept of the "vagueness"

there were no avered "arabs" in the gang who killed Ilian Halimi, the murderer is Ivoirian, his complices are white young surburbans from different EU origins... not pointing out your generalities in other subjects

Maya M said...

Nomad, (1) I don't see any contradiction between our statements. You said these individuals were not Arabs, so did I.
(2) Where have I called myself a scientist? "Scientist" is a too big word for me.
(3) You seem to discriminate against scientists, by denying them the right to talk nonsense ;). I don't find it just. Besides, scientists aren't going to renounce this right. Just check the latest public appearances of DNA structure co-discoverer James Watson.

Maya M said...

My writings are rarely found vague (though they are often called a lot of other things). So perhaps I should try and clarify my thought about the "barbarians", because I seem to have lost clarity in the pursuit of conciseness.
Using the term "barbarian", Highlander most likely implied that Americans (injustly) regard Arabs as members of a primitive culture threatening their civilization. As I explained in my previous comment, although Arabs are a very real threat, it is wring to regard their culture as primitive.
However, "barbarian" has another possible connotation. The Western world has undergone many violent transformations, often driven by masses of people who were oppressed or regarded themselves as such. Demanding and forcing the old order to change, they have called it evil and have taken pride in all features distinguishing them from the alleged oppressors. Such features include e.g. being poor, uneducated, unskilled and able to watch (and commit) violence without squeamishness or pity. Because Bulgarian history is unknown to the other bloggers here, I won't cite examples from it, but there are plenty. Nomad can easily find examples in French history. Let me cite an example from Russia, Blok's poem "Scythians" (1918), read it at http://www.russianlegacy.com/en/go_to/culture/poetry/blok/scythians.htm.
"Barbarians" was how Halimi's murderers called themselves. They were Muslims but NOT Arabs. If I (and not only I) am intermingling "Arab" and "Muslim", this is because Islam dominates Arab culture and Arabs are leaders of the Muslim world.
I have no source why those thugs chose such a name for their gang, but I guess it was aimed at intimidation of potential victims and probably also policemen and rival gangsters. While forces that are or pretend to be civilized try to use little cruelty and to keep it as secret as possible, these gangsters bragged with their cruelty. This unites them with true Islamist terrorists. Remember the beheading videos and Mariam Farahat "Um Nidal".
So I think that, unfortunately, while some Arabs lament at being injustly regarded as Barbarians, others are developing a culture of "Barbarian pride".

NOMAD said...

"You seem to discriminate against scientists, by denying them the right to talk nonsense"

I don't think they aim to

it's my philosophical point of view

the only allegated "muslin" is the ivoirian, who is not practicing his religion though

in his mind it's more racism anti-whites than anti-semit

Maya M said...

Nomad, you are so far the only source known to me denying the Muslim affiliation of most "Barbarians".
See e.g. http://www.guardian.co.uk/france/story/0,,1715029,00.html
As for "practicing" vs. "non-practicing", I wonder, were Atta & Co. practicing Islam in the USA?
This shows nothing.

Maya M said...

I wrote a post in reply to Nomad,
http://mayas-corner.blogspot.com/2007/11/dont-forget-ilan-halimi.html
Warning: very Islamophobic, read at your peril.

Highlander said...

Dear All,

Thanks for commenting on this post I did not expect so much. :P Anyway I will reply in another post would be easier for reference.