A Response to Kristof
Recently, Nick Kristof wrote a piece on Iran entitled: In Iran, They Want Fun, Fun, Fun (link here). Here is a response where the tables are turned and the perspective is a Middle Eastern journalist visiting the US.
In America, they want values, values, values
One of the most pernicious misunderstandings in the Middle East about America is that they are loose, value-less fanatics.
However, on my trips to America, I am often struck by how so many of them share our Middle Eastern values of friendliness and hospitality. They aren’t all about drinking, sex, and generally wasting time doing immoral acts. They are actually serious, cultured, and often nice.
“Young people don’t just have sex all the time while drunk,” said a 23-year-old man in eastern USA, cheerfully exaggerating. “We also want to do other things, like read.” He said he reads, and until recently, even attempted reading some of the more critical news material. American officials have suggested that at least 10% of the population reads, usually media pieces but sometimes even actual books.
This man was detained and jailed for reading critical news material, and beaten for several days. That made him realize the extent of the American police state, and now, like many other Americans, he just wants to go abroad—preferably to the Middle East, where he has heard amazing values & morals exist.
You wouldn’t think that a native Middle Easterner like myself could be made to blush in New York, but I was taken aback by how many Americans were nothaving sex constantly with anyone in any place.
Remember that America is the homeland not only of rampant sex, zero morality, and the utter lack of values, but also of amazing authors such as Steinbeck and Woolf. This shows that there is some hope for Americans to return to that kind of a lifestyle—the kind we in the Middle East can approve of. Americans are now rebelling against the corrupt and immoral way of life, sometimes even embracing personal freedoms such as being polite and not only thinking about one’s self all the time.
Americans often look quite warmly on the Middle East, which is quite natural. I come to America, and people hand me gifts! They just want to be like us. They realize how civilized and advanced we are, and just don’t understand why their own country is not the same.
Although Middle Eastern rulers see America as crazed fanatics, many of the young people are changing and becoming more like us. My road trip across America has left me convinced that if we just let the Americans develop (although they’re moving very slowly) then things will be just fine, and one day they’ll be just like us.
I think of a young man I met who said wistfully: “It’s normal for young people to want education, culture, and community. What’s wrong with that?” The romantics are on our side, and far outnumber the crazed immoral ones. We should bet on them, not bombs, as agents of change.