Different River

”You can never step in the same river twice.” –Heraclitus

May 12, 2005

Anti-Anti-Americanism in Egypt

Filed under: — Different River @ 9:30 pm

One of those things that every “right-thinking” (which is to say, left-thinking) person in America or Europe knows, is that the Arabs hate America because of George W. Bush and his interference in Iraq, not to mention his pro-Israel inclinations. (Remember the warnings about the “Arab street”?) Oh, yes, and Bush is stupid and ignorant too, especially when it comes for foreign countries and cultures.

Well, an American in Egypt has taken all this a bit too much to heart. Josh Stacher is an American who has been living in Cairo for several years, first getting a master’s degree at American University in Cairo, and now writing a Ph.D. dissertation on contemporary politics in Egypt and Syria under the auspices of the University of St. Andrews (which is in Scotland, but Josh is in Egypt). He reads classical Arabic, speaks Egyptian Arabic, and blogs in English at The Arabist Network. He is already being cited as “an academic expert on Egypt and Syria.” And he had this experience at a meeting of the al-Ghad opposition in Egypt:

So we are sitting there waiting with everyone else and the gentleman next to us started asked us where we were from etc. Yeah, we are Americans and came to see what is up. He made some comment about Mubarak being a dictator and how he loved Americans. Trained that Egyptians are brilliant at separating Americans from the US administration, I gave him the old, “Yeah well Bush is dumb and does not understand the region”. All of the sudden, my friend and I were the center of hostile attention by all those in earshot. You would of thought I insulted the Pope on Sunday.

(Insulting the Pope on Sunday? In Egypt? How many Catholics are there in Egypt? OK, who “does not understand the region” now?)

I then was subjected to multiple people explaining that I was wrong. All the previous American presidents were supporting dictatorships but Bush – well he understands and is smart. Another chap tried to outdo his party colleagues by saying “and the FM Condaleeeeza is very clever” as he pointed to his temple. I quickly readjusted and said, “Well maybe you’all are right.” I then turned to my friend and quietly said in English, “There you go….al-Ghad is the liberals.”

Remember this next time you hear an “academic expert” tell you what the people in the Middle East are thinking.

(Hat tip: TigerHawk.)

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