This is my 137th blog and in my declining years I it becomes an essential method to ward off the stagnation of old age. The fact that it has few readers is irrelevant to the main objective, which is to continue to perform mental calisthenics. Of course it would it would be nice if thousands breathlessly awaited my every posting. One thing I have noticed about mega bloggers is that as they get more followers they seek to come across striving to be more intellectual, thoughtful, and they moderate their views in the fear of losing some of their more opinionated readers, Fortunately I don’t have to worry about that. Like that old Ricky Nelson song, Garden Party. “you see, ya can’t please everyone so ya gotta please yourself,”
I am an Arabist with views that frequently are contrarian to those of the more influential gurus and writers on the Arab world. As I wrote in a previous blog, I have great affection for the Arabs as people,. their animation, sense of humor, congeniality, hospitality etc. Arabs believe in deep friendships, very different from the American culture in which friends are quickly made and just as quickly forgotten.
However generally speaking I abhor their inability to accept blame for their dysfunctional society, the corruption, acceptance of authoritarian rule, proclivity to gravitate toward extremism, and – prejudices, which are passed down for centuries and exploited by rulers to distract the masses from their own incompetence.
These prejudices, mainly against Jews and Christians but also against any non-Arab or non-Islamic group has resulted, in the total erasure of the Jews communities, communities that had existed for many centuries ion the Middle East. The Arab blood libel pogroms, and relegation of the Jews to second class citizenship, has exceeded the objective of the judenfrei campaign of the Nazis.. The Christians have been similarly pushed out, a trend accelerated by the emergence of the extreme forms of Islam currently the most popular ideology in the Middle East. The only exception to this trend has been the Kurds who struggle to survive in a hostile world,
The societal megalomania, particularly among the Sunni Muslims, has torn apart the mosaic society of the Middle East in which Jews and Christians formed important parts of the economic system. A primer on the mosaic system of the pre-nationalist Middle East is a most wonderful book, recently reprinted, The Caravan: the Story of th Middle East. by Carleton Coon succinctly tells the story of the mosaic system. The exodus of minorities and the imposition of Sharia laws has resulted in a more barren culture.
I do not confuse being an Arabist with being a facilitator of Islamist extremism, or exclusivist Arabism or their conspiratorial view of history and current events. But so many of the journalists, diplomats, academics and students of the Middle East assume their vocation or avocation demands they act as apologists for Arab issues, especially when it comes to Palestinian issues. I always avoided the Palestinian issue because there is no middle ground. I sympathize with people
evicted from their home lands, including Palestinians, Greeks and Armenians from Turkey, Jews from all over the Middle East, and the continued persecution of Yezidis, Assyrians, and other minorities in Iraq, Today only the Palestinians, with help from radical Western Leftists, aspire to return, illusionary as the hope is. The main factor motivating the Bloody Palestinian issue is money, and power . Arab rulers use it to deflect domestic criticisms and terrorist organizations use it to obtain money to keep their murderous organizations afloat. In fact one can rightly say that the only issue than unites Arabs, weakly at best, is the Palestinian issues, As i have written in earlier blogs, an “Arab world”. does not exist. And as the western State system continues to prevail, The supposed universality of the Arabic language is a very weak link, and becoming less so as Arab local dialects continue to thwart attempts to instill Modern Standard Arabic as the language of the “Arab world.”
After over 8 years studying and living among Arabs, and over 30 years instructing or as an analyst of the Middle East I can claim the “Arabist” appellation without any qualification, I can also claim without my usual humility that I have probably forgotten more about the Middle East than the big names in Middle Eat studies have ever known.
My deficiency has always been my lack of proficiency in Arabic mostly as a result of my Artillery hearing, and standing too close to the big guns, i.e. 155 and 8 in howitzers and 175 mm gun in Vietnam. But i can make my way around the Arab world quite nicely and never thought my difficulties with Arabic held me back. So I blog on Cheers
Dear Col. DeAtkine – Thank you for writing your blogs. I have really enjoyed reading them over the years. Are you going to USMA reunion this year? My mom and dad will be there.
Thank you very much Drummond. Appreciate your kind words. No unfortunately I’m not going to the 60th. My wife is not up to it and I don’t feel like going alone. Give my regards to your mom and dad, your dad if I remember correctly was the first member of the class I met. We arrived by train on our way to admissions we took a
Ferry across the Hudson? I was so scared not sure I remembered anything! Cheers and all the best