how the world sees america

Rumor Controls

Washington, DC - After 100 days abroad, I fly home to Washington D.C. scrutinizing an old copy of a Pakistani paper called The Daily Times to pass the late hours. America appears in 15 articles across 12 pages, only once with kind adjectives. Unsurprising. Then an article on A12 grips me:

Pakistan-Daily-Times.jpg
Headline: "11 polio workers abducted in Khar, campaign halted"

Excerpt: Tribesmen in the Bajaur tribal district bordering Afghanistan refused to allow the [polio] vaccinations to take place after hearing rumors that the drive was a 'US plot' to sterilize Muslim children, residents said.... Health officials had been trying to dispel rumors -- sometimes spread by radio stations or from the loudspeakers of mosques -- that the polio campaign was a Western conspiracy to reduce Muslim populations.

I shudder. The two burly men squishing me from either side open their eyes into slits, grunt, and then pass back out. In the darkness, one word lingers in my mind: “Conspiracy...

Throughout my travels, I’ve heard innumerable tall tales about America, some absurd, others less so. Over a glass of Guinness, a mild-mannered Lancaster bartender said President Bush orchestrated 9/11 so he could impose martial law. Gripping my shoulder, a young Mancunian earnestly described how a cabal of oil magnates “met in graveyards at night” to hatch the Iraq War. And a taxi driver in London warned me that America’s political leadership secretly launched “Operation Eradicate Islam” in 2001.

Upon arriving in Delhi, a lanky intellectual with three butlers said American companies were conspiring to “re-colonize India through proxies like Wal-Mart.” And in Pakistan, a laid-back rock star argued that America’s Central Intelligence Agency and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence were working in cahoots to protect hardcore terrorists like Osama bin Laden. “If the U.S. and Pakistan wanted to stop terrorism, they could,” the rocker Mekaal Hassan muttered angrily, puffing a cigarette.

“Then why don’t they?” I asked.

“Beats me, bro. You’ve got to talk to them.”

Circular answers like that are as common as the alleged conspiracies they bolster. Big events linked to America disrupt real lives. The rocker’s recent gigs have been canceled because of terror scares and the taxi driver claims authorities recently detained his friend’s friend. Even if people don’t feel the U.S. directly or hear about it, they still tune into TV or YouTube and check out gruesome images of war.

Global citizens see the consequences of American power in detail but don’t understand the complex agents behind it -- the machinery of government or the multiple actors shaping it.

Generally, the people I met didn’t implicate the average American in their perceived conspiracies. Nevertheless, as the polio anecdote illustrates, global distrust can cost locals dearly. And Americans suffer too as distrust derails collaborations that could help us.

So what to do? I’ve only been back a couple of days, but I have a few initial thoughts.

Our Public Diplomacy department needs to do a better job rapidly countering rumors when and where they develop (rather like, as the pundits say, John Kerry should have addressed Swift Boat Veteran accusations immediately in the 2004 election).

Our political candidates, not just our president, must watch their mouths. Brandishing America’s big sword at a town rally in Iowa might gets votes there, but it also makes headlines abroad, frightening whole populations. The most obvious example is when Barack Obama recently said he’d unilaterally strike al Qaeda within Pakistan. That made front-page news in Pakistan on at least one paper per day the whole time I was there. Musharraf even tried to use the quote as an excuse to impose martial law. Other candidates, Republicans and Democrats, carelessly lump all of "America's enemies" into one ball.

On a related note, ordinary Americans need to understand their own role in affecting public diplomacy. Upon returning home, I received an email saying “How the World Sees America” was “another Washington Post conspiracy” to destabilize America by glamorizing terrorism. “America’s enemies cannot listen to reason. They must all be destroyed,” the note said.

This all-encompassing rhetoric distances us further from many of the people we should be reaching out to either directly, or through our elected leaders. A few may be intractable. Most aren't. When we reward politicians for blundering words, rather like that in the note I received, instead of the person with the most sensible plan to combat terrorism, we hurt our own cause.

I’m home now, planning to spend several weeks writing from the U.S. before pushing off abroad again. I’m plotting my next move, and would love your help. Should I explore the public diplomacy scene in D.C.? Or perhaps it’d be more exciting to travel across the U.S. looking at how first generation immigrants saw America before they arrived, and how they fit in now that they’re here. After a few weeks regrouping and writing from the U.S. I’ll head off again. Until then, I’ll reflect on complex America from within.

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Comments (78)

Salih:

Guys,
Point 1. All kinds of fundamentalism are bad. Be it Muslim fundamentalism, Christian fundamentalism, Hindu fundamentalism, Jewish fundamentalism, Buddhist fundamentalism and all other religious fundamentalisms that I forgot to mention.
Point 2. I am Muslim, my wife is an Orthodox Christian. We get along well and religion is not a problem, if you try to see the common parts, instead of discrete parts. Then you'll understand that fundamentally, both religions are basically the same.
Point 3. Distrust against America has nothing to do with religion. It's about the pragmatism of the Imperial view of the USA. The approval rating of USA was more than 80% in Turkey in year 2000, peak 93% right after the 9/11 attacks. We have lived through terrorist attacks, and now again we are living through. We understand you. But now, this approval rating fall well below 10%, only reason is, the guns that were "lost" by the US army in Iraq are now used by the terrorist to kill us. Such examples can be found everywhere people hate USA. In Pakistan, USA is supporting the military junta in order to suppress the tribal support to Taliban and Al-Quaida. Invaded Iraq first saying that there were weapons of mass destruction there, later it's found out that it was an outright lie. Then they said they'd bring democracy there, the contractor company Blackwater killed masses for no reason. etc. etc.
Here's my 2 cents: I am a "Barbarian Turk". Nowadays it's quite possible that you'll pass a bill at the congress which says we committed genocide against Armenians in 1915. OK, it's fine for me. I trust American voice as much as I trust when you said there were WMD's in Iraq. I'm upset with the USA *NOT* because it's mainly composed of Christians, but, they can twist the truths as they wish for their purposes. I'm really upset now, as I was really sorry for you guys on the day 9/11/01. Now I'm sorry to be sorry of the wrong people.
When will you attack us? We are waiting for it to happen, maybe not now, but in a couple of decades.

Karl:

What all these posts seem to show is that is very little chance peace will break out. A holy war on a blog about understanding each others perspectives? Whoever does the killing there is a lot of pent up motivation.

truth:

The facts speak for themselves on where terrorism originates from (the Arab world and Pakistan) and the perpetrators of the vast majority of that terrorism (Muslims). The Muslim bigots here can harp on Hinduism all they want and yea it is totally different from Western religions, but I personally have not seen nor heard of child marriage in Hinduism in this day and age, but cannot say the same for Muslims. Polygamy is also another issues Muslims face. Sati happens far less often than a Muslim woman being stoned or killed in another manner for "infidelity". Women and their chastity are not used to settle village disputes by Hindus as they are by Muslims in Pakistan. (Mukhtar Mai who was brave enough to stand up should be googled) You guys can keep spewing your hate, but I don't see where it will get you. The far-left can only go so far in helping your cause but the vast majority (Dems and Repubs) of Americans understand what happened on 9/11 and the policies of this country will forever keep that in mind when dealing with foreign interests. Your country or countries may not be the most powerful and you may not agree with America's foreign policy, but that doesn't mean your qualms allow for terrorism and death. Its hard to comprehend with all the money many of these Middle Eastern countries have, why they havent used it to produce world class scholars in academia and industry. Its only through that where you can build economic and military strength and subsequent power projection. When a muslim complains about their lack of respect in the world, they believe its through some conspiracy, but rarely do they look inward at themselves for the reason. If they taught their kids science or math for half the time they educated them about conspiracies, they would be much better off.

RAJIV:

To_Rajiv (nice name),

So you are saying that "By today standard yes Prophet Mohammed was a pedophile, back then I do not think so!". Right? Well, I doubt if you have the intelluctual honesty to say so.

The problem is, about such thing (or anything else about Islam that can be easily seen as wrong and despicable), moderate muslims would only keep mum. Their religious teaching prevent them to even think anything critical about the holi book or the prophet, however wrong it sounds. That is why no moderate muslim would say the violent verses of Quran wrong should be removed - instead they will say, Jihad is about "internal struggle", whatever that means. They will only be the silent spectators, who will never speak up against the wrongs in their religion. Where is the chance of reform in Islam?

And what would a hard-liner muslim take this as? Well, see what Mansoor Ali says:

"What does this tell us?

That Allah allows men to marry and consummate with females if the female have had their menstrual periods."

Hardliners would interpret this means, Allah allows 8 year old girls to be married off to 60 year old men. In my hometown of Hyderabad, India, poor muslim families sell off their little girls to old Arab sheiks, even today - in the name of religion. (Anybody remember the story of Amina, the child bride who was saved by an air-hostess?). Hardliners would say Allah allows them to marry many women and divorce them at will without alimony/child support and no moderate muslim will speak against that, because they are confused. Hardliners would say Allah calls upon them to kill and convert non-believers and moderates would not speak against it because they are confused.

I have nothing against Muslims. You know, my wife is Muslim - I never asked her to leave her religion (although her family tried several times to get me converted). I have tried to understand Islam with an open mind. I have done the Ramadan fasting two times sofar (it is tough). I asked my questions to many muslims including some religious clerics, but my apprehensions only got worse when I saw how even moderate and educated people cling to one book and one ideology and close their minds off to reason. All religions have undergone reforms, Islam the least - I do not think there is any chance for a serious religious reform in Islam, because its fundamentals are so divisive. There is a reason why Islam is at odds with everyone and I can only pity those who deny that fact, citing a nice muslim friend.

To Juhi:

JUHI cez - To the poster at 2.30 am. Thanks for reminding me about my religion of Hinduism. So are you suggesting, it is fine for Muslims to massacre civilians on a daily basis, because Hindus are doing it too? I am also going to put in my 2 cents worth of opinion about your religion and prophet: From my research and reading of at least 8 newspapers a day: My conclusion is that Muslims are following exactly what their founder told them: Slay the infidels wherever ye see them. That explains you insatiable drive for blood of innocents (and you complain when someone even questions your intolerant and violent ways).


JEEEEEZZZ wiz lady!! You are stupider then I would have imagined!! Though I know that all Hindus are not like you as some of 'em are my best friends!! But I am sane enough to realize that despite the social kinks in your religion most of the Hindus are good folks, but your racist mind is not willing to apply that to the Muslims!!

Take your 2am sleeping pills and try to chill old hindu extremist mama!! It ain't your capacity to figure out what the world is all about!!

To Rajiv:

Yo Hindu Dude,

Do you know anything about the biology of human evolution? From your post it seems that you don't know diddley doo!

While you compare trends of human social behavior 1600 years ago with your crooked yardstick of today, you sound and look very stupid & mentally retarded!!

Check your family tree bro, your great-great-great grandfather was perhaps 20 when he would have gotten married to your G-G-G Grandma who must have been around seven!! Did it make your grandpa a freakin' child molester?? By today standard yes he was, back then I do not think so!

Marrying very young was a norm in the early ages of human development and it was not restricted to just Arab culture per say!!

However and I must point out that until todate child marriages are prevalent in your Hindu culture which surely point to a pedophile society.

So before you and the likes of Juhi start hurling stones at others, check your ground facts and remember that you also live in glass houses!!

Ten Four!

Rajiv:

Colleen,

Would you please ask your moderate Muslim friend about the below (from the post of Mansoor Ali, Bangalore, India):


It is true that Muhammad married her when she was six and he was 52. But there was no sexual intercourse until Aisha had her first period at the age of nine. Then the Holy Propeht, now 56, took her to his house and consummated the marriage.

What does this tell us?

That Allah allows men to marry and consummate with females if the female have had their menstrual periods.

Although there was a differnce of 46 years in their ages, Aisha was most beloved by Muhammad.

The above is only one instance of how Allah has showed us how to live. It does mean that every six year old girl must be married off to some one man who is in his fifties. It only means such marriages are permitted.


Ask her if she would say pedaphelia is wrong and despicable whoever does that, be it Prophet Mohammed. Please would you let us know what she says?

Thanks!

BTW, Sorry I forgot to sign the post above. My name is Rajiv.

Anonymous:

Juhi only said "My conclusion is that Islam celebrates death more than life. Sickening.". And there were many to lecture her about the "hate speech" against Muslims.

And there is this poster identifying as "TO JUHI" who says "Can I have your parents address please?? I don't want to send them your head because from the way you are ranting here, your head absolutely belongs on that filthy & smelly hindu body of yours." And nobody seem to mind that and much more from him later on... Surely Muslims should have their chance to react and rant too. We are a democracy after all..

Colleen seems to be the typical liberal type we see a lot in North East US and Canada. They are great wonderful ignorant people, dead agaist perjudice about anything at all. Some of them think Khalid Sheik Muhammed did not get a good lawyer so his human rights were violated. Fantastic!

"I have a friend who is muslim and wears the head scarf. She does not want to kill you.". Fine, very good. But what do you think about what is going on in the world today, Colleen? Why is it that ALL of the religious terrorists in the world today are Muslim (don't be misled about "Tamil tigers in Sri Lanka being the hindu terrorsts" - It is totally an ethnic and political fight, hardly any religion involved. There are scores of Muslims in the ranks of Tamil tigers and there are many muslims on the Sri Lankan Government side too).

Do you think the Muslim religious Ideology has anything to do with this at all? Have you cared to read/understand about the nature of this issue which is facing the World today? Just few hours back, there were two bomb explosions in Hyderabad, India, killing hundreds of people. Who are these people who keep doing such things on one part of the world after another, and what ideology is fuelling it? Is it just coicidence that everytime it is Muslims who are found committing such attrocities? What do they want? Why do they hate everybody else somuch?

Don't pretend you don't see the elephent in the room - the big bad elephant of Islamic fundamentalism. Moderate Muslims are not going to reform Islam, becauase the fundamentals of Islam are not about toleration of non-believers. Moderate muslims are only going to be silent spectators at the best (and silent supporters at worst). I just hope the world will wake up and do something to prevent this violent cult from propagating further!!


Paul:

When I read about these sort of American conspiracy theories, I always laugh - at the assumption that the American government could actually pull off such plots if it tried! The implication seems to be that the US is powerful and capable enough to do pretty much anything. What a hoot! Apparently we're really good at manipulating foreigners, even though we are demonstrably bad at foreign relations. Anyone see a contradiction here?

When will people figure out that being a "superpower" means you have the ability to bomb the heck out of people, and little more? And when will people figure out that that the usefulness of this capability is highly limited?

J Murphy:

Why can't candidates, political figures, and internationally recognized speakers just keep their mouths shut. Everything is recorded and can be sent around the world within seconds. Interpretation in America is so different than, in say, Pakistan. We have to realize what we are saying harmlessly here can be seen as a threat internationally. We have to think like this, if someone thinks it is a threat a group of people will follow their lead a refuse to have anything to do with it. The polio vaccinations, we have to convince them of the true nature of the vaccinations. That the health officials are really tring to cure an illness, that it's not a US government conspiracy. Although right now with all the outraageous things being said by the government, who would'nt think that everything having to do with the United States isn't a conspiracy.

lida:

Woman O Woman,

Juhi is in her 50's and is full of Hindu fanatic Hate.
The irony is by spreading hate towards Muslims she is endangering herself. Hindu and Sikh were targeted after 9/11 here in the US.

Just like Shiv Sena and people who killed Ghandi don't represent hinduism they people who use Islam as a pretext to commit terrosrism are not Symbolic of Islam and what it stands for.

Bal Thackeray admires Hitler so does that mean you love hitler and want to kill all jews????

To Answer your question regarding Israel.
How many jews were killed by palestinians before Israel was created????? the answer is none.

Therefore the Israel issue is a occupation matter and don't get confused by it. Tamil in Srilanka is a example for you since you are from India.

1.3 billion muslims worldwide and 99.9999% are peaceful people so don't stereo type and my suggestion is you should follow Ghandi and do yoga and rid yourself of all this hate.

Try to analyze why you have so much hate is it Kashmir issue , is it partition , is it the mogul rule of india???? did any of your family member have a bad experience with a muslim fellow.


We are all humans by spreading hate you reveal only whats inside you.

Om Shanto Om


colleen:

juhi

How do you know the person who said so many negative things about your religion was a muslim?

But look at another reaction you have provoked. Joe has said muslims are like nazis!

Joe

There are over one billion Muslims in the world. If they were all violent people the world would be in serious trouble. Most muslims like most people do not want to kill.

Juhi:

To the poster at 2.30 am. Thanks for reminding me about my religion of Hinduism. So are you suggesting, it is fine for Muslims to massacre civilians on a daily basis, because Hindus are doing it too?

I am also going to put in my 2 cents worth of opinion about your religion and prophet: From my research and reading of at least 8 newspapers a day: My conclusion is that Muslims are following exactly what their founder told them: Slay the infidels wherever ye see them. That explains you insatiable drive for blood of innocents (and you complain when someone even questions your intolerant and violent ways).

colleen:

juhi

I have a friend who is muslim and wears the head scarf. She does not want to kill you. I've known as acquaintences people who were muslim, and for more than a month a young muslim man lived in our home. None of them has wanted to kill me.

What we should be doing if we want to end this cycle of killings, is getting to know one another on a personal level to defuse the hatred.

What do you think happens to muslims who read your posts? How do you think they feel? Most of the people who are muslim are nice people who wish no harm to anyone.

In short, imo your posts increase hatred and fuel the cycle of killings.

There is no irony in that.

Joe:

Are Muslims worse than Nazis?? My opinion:Yes. Reason: Nazis, at the very least, valued their own life.

sri-jaggu-gandhi:

Juhi, you are alright in me books. These outraged comics who try to rebut you have absolutely no sense of irony

Pragmatist:

Nevermind, JUHI's hate comes from ignorance. Go on JUHI, keep shouting on top of your lungs.
Go on!
Go on!

To Juhi:

FACT 1 - Suicide Bombing is a HINDU invention. Tamil Tigers invented it and used it effectively on Hindu ex-PM Rajiv Gandhi. May his pieces rest in peace!

FACT 2 - Violence is an integral part of Hinduism and it is evident in the KALI DEVI. In the past Hindus used to present severed heads and give human sacrifices in order to please a two-cent statue. Remember Indiana Jones and Temple of Doom!

FACT 3 - Hinduism is the most intolerant cult in the world. Examples are razing of the Barbari Mosque by Hindus fanatics and live burning of a Christian Australian Preacher alongwith his two young sons in India.

FACT 4 - Hinduism is Racism at its peak. This is evident from the in-built caste system. Jains are far superior than Shudders.

FACT 5 - Hindusim is all about Sex. This is obvious to the likes of the penile gods and Kamasutra.

FACT 6 - Hindu lower caste women are presented as young virgins to douse the sexual appetite of jains minding Hindu temples. These girls are as young as 8 or 10 years old.

FACT 7 - Hindus burn alive wives who are widowed. The infamous ritual of Satti even goes on today and was shown very well in THE FAR PAVILIONS.

FACT 8 - Have you ever seen a Hindus Sadhu? a Nude Man, all dirty, smelly and then he goes to perhaps wash himself in the worlds most polluted river, the Ganges.

With all the facts above no wonder Hinduism still remains a lowly subscribed cult. People with better vision are either Christians or Muslims which are the two dominant religions in the world.

Finally, Juhi you are not an American, but a racist Hindu whose parents left their own homeland of India to settle here for money. If you like Hinduism so much why not go back to India and preach your extremist and volatile beliefs from there? Do not insult the rest of the USA by calling yourself and acting as an American!

Juhi:

Colleen asks if I want warfare? No, I am a frail woman in my 50s. I do not want warfare.
But why do Muslims want to kill us?
Why they attacked us on 9/11?

JRLR: All questions are relevant. Notice how Muslims go on personal attacks but ignore the questions: such as reason for Palestines living in Israel but no Jews in Palestine?

Bobby G.:

Colleen---- your observations are, I would say, correct about G.W.Bush and the U.S.A. The U.S.A. is a capitalistic nation above all. It takes money to create the military superiority that the U.S. strives for. If the U.S. were a Christian nation it would use it's wealth for things like health care and humanitarian purposes and not for military might. Wars have been fought for monetary reward and land since Day 1 and no one seems to learn that wars don't solve problems. People may go to church every day but it doesn't make them holy.
Thank you JRLR for the info about foreign newspapers.

NITIN:

TO JUHI:

Your hate-filled posts are uncovering the ugly face of Hindu fundamentalism. They demonstrate - as well as Bin Laden, Hitler and the KKK did - that bigotry exists every where, even among Indians.

For others here, a quotes from a more representative Hindu:
Swami Vivekananda (at the Conference of World Religions):

"I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true. I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth. I am proud to tell you that we have gathered in our bosom the purest remnant of the Israelites, who came to the southern India and took refuge with us in the very year in which their holy temple was shattered to pieces by Roman tyranny. I am proud to belong to the religion which has sheltered and is still fostering the remnant of the grand Zoroastrian nation. I will quote to you, brethren, a few lines from a hymn which I remember to have repeated from my earliest boyhood, which is every day repeated by millions of human beings:


"As the different streams having their sources in different
places all mingle their water in the sea, so, O Lord, the
different paths which men take through different tendencies,
various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee."
...
"Whosoever comes to Me, through whatsoever form, I reach him;
all men are struggling through paths which in the end lead to Me."

Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth. They have filled the earth with violence, drenched it often and often with human blood, destroyed civilization, and sent whole nations to despair. Had it not been for these horrible demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is now. But their time has come; and I fervently hope that the bell that tolled this morning in honor of this convention may be the death-knell of all fanaticism, of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen, and of all uncharitable feelings between persons wending their way to the same goal."

(Source: http://www.caip.rutgers.edu/~kanth/jwz/mbm/sv/address1.html)

Thanks for reading.

fuzzyecho:

Just a note: Jose Padillo did not, in fact, possess any sort of "dirty bomb". When he came to trial, after some 3 and a half years in abusive solitary confinement, that charge had mysteriously disappeared. He was found guilty of "supporting" terrorism, this based on fingerprints on an application form and taped conversation in which he didn't even say any of the so-called "code" words. The fingerprints weren't even in the position they would naturally be in if he had filled out the form himself...Padilla refused to be examined by a psychiatrist, the issue had to be forced. Above all, he was afraid of being sent back to the brig. He wanted to be found fit for trial, even though it's doubtful that he is at this point. He would rather be in jail, dead, anywhere but in the brig, in the dark.
So are they so wrong about us?

JRLR:

JUHI writes: "Muslims here just talk back but never answer the questions"...

I am neither a Christian, a Muslim or a Jew. Nonetheless, I have some idea WHY some questions never get answered.

Those are questions that are, essentially, the twisted by-products of obsessed, fanatical minds, with no historical perspectives behind them, no respect for facts, and no sense of how the chain of causes and effects works, in this world.

Above all, questions get no answer when they bear no relation to the topic discussed and only serve as pretexts to curtail or derail enjoyable conversations among reasonable people.

colleen:

Juhi

I can remember when there were people who talked about blacks the way that you talk about Muslims. Its prejudice and the only ones who don't see it are you and people who share your prejudice.

You are here to increase hatred towards Muslims imo. That is why you are posting.

What solutions do you see then? Do you want more warfare? Do you want to kill Muslims? Is that how to deal with the problems between nations? With killing and warfare?

Juhi:

Me practising prejudice and being intolerant: Give me a break for Allah's sake. I guess quoting the basic facts about Islam and its founder can get you intolerant label but not forming 55 nations on Islamic religion.

Muslims here just talk back but never answer the questions: as to why there are more than 30% Muslims in Jewish state while zero to 2% percent in any Islamic land ? Why Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Mohammed (PBUH) is the most intolerant nation on earth?

colleen:

The US is not a Christian nation. No Christian nation would behave this way and go to war for profit.

George Bush is not a Christian. No Christian would deny health care to children so that insurance companies would make money.

A quote from the Bible: You will know them by their works. And we can clearly see what Bush has wrought with the acquiescence of the American people and its government. More people should have stood up to Bush and more Democrats and Republicans should be opposing the Bush administration.

And it is that deep hypocrisy that now exists in the US that creates the distrust for America both here in America and abroad. Exactly what does America stand for? If America wants to be trusted then America must have clear principles that are followed. That means following the laws as written in the Constitution and showing respect for human rights as written in the Geneva Convention.

I think it is offensive language to insult another religion by referring to a pig.
JUHI continues to exhibit prejudice.

Juhi:

My point is if Islam was really peaceful, tolerant and compassionate then at the very least Mohammed's birth place and Islam's holiest place would be much more tolerant and respecting towards other religions.

Muslims are doing exactly what their Prophet (Pig Be upon Him)and Quran tells them to do: Islam is the superior and the only way to God and they should do anything and everything in their lifetime to spread this message and convert people (first give them advice and if they do not follow, blow them up and go to heaven with young boys).

Muslims here can not fool anyone by saying they are the ones being discriminated against, while they continue to practise intolerance in 55 Islamic nations of their own and continue to blow up people on a daily basis.

Jon :

I think they are serving 'Hindu Heads'on a platter in United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Malaysia, Indonesia and other Muslim countries where millions of Hindus, Sikhs & Christians are earning a decent living which India is unable to provide. The Muslim world, especially the Arab countries are the largest employers of the Hindus and other minorities from India.

Seems Juhi has never been out of her house to even know how the rest of the world lives like. Her information source seems to be the likes of CNN, Fox and every hate weblog on the net.

Poor Juhi, feel sorry for her kind already!

To Juhi:

Cez She - If I worship my idols there openly, my head would be presented to my parents as a gift.

Can I have your parents address please?? I don't want to send them your head because from the way you are ranting here, your head absolutely belongs on that filthy & smelly hindu body of yours. I just want to send them a copy of your posts as they'd be really proud of having a bigot, low intelligence, true & vile hindu racist daughter shine bright on this blog.

By the way is it only you or your brothers or sisters are also reeling from the same genetic mental disorder of racism?

By the way do ask your grandfather on how old was your grandmother when he married her? 12 or 13?? Because I seriously think that your family has not grown up to world realities ever since.

You will be a very successful POSTER CHILD for what theories OBL is trying to sell!

Juhi:

Anonymous: I did watch Jewish warriors and intend to watch Christian Warriors tonight. I got a feeling most of Jewish terrorism was in response to Islamic terrorism. Muslims, including Hamas, Hezbollah, Iranaian President have repeatedly sworn to wipe Israel off the map, including millions of civilians (and Muslims complain when a US Presidential candidate says that he will go inside Pakistan to pursue terrorists).

Also about Jews: My understanding there are 30-40% Muslims living inside Israel. Can you tell me how many Jews live in Palestine or the rest of the 55 Islamic nations?

About Christians tonight: I live in a Christian country and am free to practise my religion, including building Hindu temples and worshipping idols.

If you think Islam is so compassionate and tolerant then how come the birthplace of Mohammed and Muslims' holiest site , Saudi Arablia, is the most intolerant nation on earth. If I worhsip my idols there openly, my head would be presented to my parents as a gift. And how about the 19 hijackers: did they bring your prophet's (PBUH) message on 9/11?

What a farce!!

Anonymous:

JUHI

That was a 3 part series by Christiane Amanpour and there were two others that you chose not to see, nor to reference. One was about the Christian warriors and the other was about the Jewish warriors. And thats why I think you are prejudice against Muslims.

The problem is not the religion imo. The problem is the governments and the lack of information.

Juhi:

JRLR: I will see Islam as a compassionate religion when all 55 nations of earth stop calling themselves Islamic republics and not openly discriminate against other religions. I will believe you when there are at least 20% minorities (non-Muslims) in those nations living as equals.
Every day I read on WaPo that Muslims somewhere have blown up 20-30 people.
And you complain that you are being discriminated against?
this show was on CNN, not Fox News

colleen:

pragmatist

Part of the problem is the lack of coverage by the news media. I saw the people marching against the war before it began and I saw the lack of reportage by the news media. Now I no longer trust the news media. I now think that the news is distorted in the US by corporate owners that want profits and those corporations backed a war for oil.

Once you can not trust news sources, questions arise and answers are difficult to find. Thats a breeding ground for conspiracy theories.

I am also sometimes in Canada and many of the people I meet there think it was a war for oil. A view rarely discussed in the US news media.

I wonder if the reluctance to go forward with an impeachment is because it would lay bare what the US has stood for, and reveal the US hypocrisy of claiming the war was fought for the Iraqi people or to find WMD.

JUHI

Imo you are prejudice against muslims and their religion. Every group has people who are capable of atrocities.

There are more than 1 BILLION muslims in the world and they are about 22% of the world's population. Only Christianity is larger. Only a small fraction of that one billion people committ atrocities.

Anonymous:

Juhi: Looks like your knowledge about Sikhism is limited. I am a Sikh and can tell you for a fact that Sikhs are not half muslims. In fact, Sikhism came into existence, among other things, as a sect to oppose and militarily fight islamic invaders in India around 1400 AD. There are aspects of Sikhism today that show clear influence of Sufism, but by and large, we are not too fond of muslims. They (muslims) did nothing to help that after the mis-treatment of Sikhs following the partition and thereafter.

JRLR:

BOBBY G.

I just remember that a list of "Major Foreign Press Sources and their Home Pages" is also provided at www.watchingamerica.com.

Incidentally, that site is also committed to helping its readers discover how the world sees America.

JRLR:

JUHI -- Forget Amampour's bits, forget "God's Warriors", forget all the CNN demonizing endeavours.

Turn away from what Ray Bradbury calls "the electrical moron... in the tomblike houses", "that Medusa machine which freezes your intellect if ever you stare at it"; Leonard Cohen's "hopeless little screen".

Go read Rumi, for starter: "Open Secret", "Quatrains of Rumi", etc., translated by John Moyne and Coleman Barks. Enjoy how the Sufi mystic poet celebrates life!

"In these pages many mysteries are hinted at
What if you come to understand one of them?"

"Words let water from an unseen, infinite ocean
Come into this place as energy for the dying and even the dead."

"Bored onlookers, but with such Light in our eyes!
As we read this book, the jewel-lights intensify."

...

"From the wet source someone
cuts a reed to make a flute.
The reed sips breath like wine,
sips more, practicing. Now drunk,
it starts the high clear notes."

Hope you and your friends find the notes are high enough!

Juhi:

To Pragmastist: I have seen enough and heard enough about Islam to make my conclusion: That it is a culture of Death.

On the show, an Iranian mother was talking about Iran-Iraq war and how another woman she knew sent her 13 & 14 year old sons to fight. The 13 year old son's head was cut off and thrown at her, but she threw the head back and said this is my sacrifice for Islam.

And this is Islam's passion towards other Muslims. Do we infidels stand a chance?

Pragmarist:

I saw JUHI's comment that he saw "bits of Chritiane Amanpour's show". That's how half seen shows cause misinformation. He needed to see what suited his pre-established conclusions. Half thruth is worst than a lie.

I assume JUHI is an educated person, so if an uneducated person in the far flung area considers Polio vaccination as conspiracy, i do not blame him, because he is ignorant. I am much affraid of "educated" ignorants.

Pragmatist:

I know everyone has their own opinion. Until about 10 years ago the Pakistani media was not even free to report about a good work done by governement without Government approval. People mostlt relied on rumors and a rumor which makes a full 360 degree round was considered a fact. With lack of trust on the information media, the bizarre theories make impact on people's thinking. That takes shape of underground propaganda circuit. Its not to say that free press does not implant faulty information. The free press has its own biases which are exploited by grapevine masters.

That kind of mistrust will take a little while before it gets better. However, as long as the grape vine is supported by ground realities, it will take much longer to change state of minds.

We need to learn to ignore those rumor mills as we ignore what Bush says.

JRLR:

BOBBY G., for list of newspapers and links, ask Google: e.g. list Pakistan newspapers... In this case you'll be given access to e.g. Yahoo's complete list of Pakistani newspapers, etc.

You can use the same research arguments but with the second being e.g. Afghanistan, India, etc.

You may want to visit www.onlinenewspapers.com where they claim to list 10000 world newspapers.

Checking things up, I just discovered www.world-newspapers.com and it seems quite impressive. I'll keep that site as a reference myself.

Go see www.gt.kth.se/publishing/news.html (Newspapers on World Wide Wed). This last site is Swedish: from Kungl Tekniska Högskolan -- Royal Institute of Technology, Division of Graphics Art Technology... and well worth the visit.

All the best.

Your online librarian...

Juhi:

Just saw bits of Christiane Amanpour's show on CNN called God's Warriors. My conclusion is that Islam celebrates death more than life. Sickening.

Does anyone know why we were attacked on 9/11?

God save America from Muslims and their supporters like Mr. Bakshi (A Sikh- half Muslim).

Bobby G.:

Maurie Beck--- I think you have hit the nail on the head about being "caught up in a hallucination of conspiracies" well said!
I've always been interested to see the real newspapers from countries like Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Iran, etc. Does anyone know of a way to find them on the Internet?
Also, I enjoy your articles Mr Bakshi--- keep up the good work.

Maurie Beck:

Good to have you back Amar. I've enjoyed your posts, especially the one about Ahmed Rashid.

From reading the comments, it is obvious the whole world is caught up in a hallucination of conspiracies (e.g. the conspiracy of Israel and/or the U.S. to destroy Islam, the Muslim Brotherhood's conspiracy for a worldwide Caliphate, the Fundamentalist Christian conspiracy for a Christian Caliphate, the old and new Jewish conspiracy).

It's time to go on and look for America. Not just the immigrant America, which would be great in itself, but all of it.

JRLR:

Welcome home, Amar!

You write "distrust derails collaborations that could help us." You then ask: "So what to do?"

Well, first, let's make it clear that distrust is the price to pay for lying and deceiving repeatedly. World distrust is the price to pay for lying and deceiving shamelessly and repeatedly in front of the community of nations assembled, and in front of the whole world. Distrust is the price to pay for supporting people who lie and deceive, and for asking them to lead and to speak in our name.

That being admittedly the case, there is no easy answer to your question. I would imagine that only time can mend such deep wounds. Only with time (it may indeed take a long, long time!), can truthfulness heal those wounds to the soul, restore confidence, and make genuine collaborations possible.

But is there still room for truthfulness, in the current power game? Seems to me "self and national interests", like those toxic algae, have left no oxygen for truthfulness to bloom, in our lethal political tank.

Who will ever trust any country whose "diplomats" threaten to bomb one into the Stone Age? Who will ever respect a country obsessed by permanent conflict and perpetual war; a country where no political candidate has even one good word to say about peace and world disarmament? Who will have confidence in a country whose President constantly expresses himself using orwellian oxymorons? Who will still expect anything good from a country where the media are terrorized and blackmailed into submission for years on end, no matter what? Who will have anything to do with a country where the first nobody can have his note posted in leading national newspapers, calling for neighbouring countries and their populations to be obliterated with atomic weapons?

No, there is no easy answer to your question, Amar. Given what the US has become, I very much doubt first generation immigrants would dare tell you, these days, how they truly see America! As for what one could legitimately call "American diplomacy", honestly, can and does something of the kind still exist?

If I were you, I would want to spend the coming weeks delving into WHAT exactly I have learned, in the last 100 days, and figure out precisely WHY the world sees America as I think it does. WHY? This is the most important question, it being the less frequently asked, and for obvious reasons: it remains invariably the least pleasant one to answer with some degree of honesty.

Hope you enjoy every minute you spend with family and friends.

Mani:

Amar,

Yes, a study of first generation immigrants in teh US, and how they are helping build our nation in the 21st century will be enlightening.

On another issue,countries such as China,and now India are busy building world class economies, and providing for their people.. a huge challenge considering how far they need to go. I suspect all major nations would like to do the same, and the US could help catalyse efforts in this direction

colleen:

Its the following kind of statements that create problems for America.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YENbElb5-xY

If Cheney in 1994 understood all the problems associated with an invasion into Iraq then why did he think it would be easy now to invade Iraq?

And why was Iraq invaded preemptively, when Iraq was not an immediate danger to the US.

As long as it is not clear why Iraq was attacked then conspiracy theories will abound both here and abroad.

Aamir Alii:

Juhi:


The terror threats are by Alqaida. They dont speak for all Muslims, in case you didnt know.

Bosnians should be thankful to the US for its efforts there, that doesnt mean Turks should as well just because both are of same religion. I dont see what good the US did in Somalia and the wars in Kuwait and intervention in Sudan is more connected to oil than any humanitarian concern.

American interference in Muslim countries, support for Israeli aggression and now American aggression against Muslim states has been going on for 50+ years.

nardami56:

GANDALF
Maybe it is because the US has meddled in Islamic states cince the Second World War. The US has propped up despotic ME rulers who repressed their subjects as long as they served US commecial (OIL) interests. Maybe it's because The US topples democratically elected governments (Iran in 59) that stand up for their own citizens (over OIL). Maybe it is the blind US support for some really bad Israeli actions in the region. Maybe it starts to form a pattern in their minds that the US has been chief instigator in destabilizing their part of the world in order to better control its resources? Or could it be that the US is arming as many militant groups it can find to destabilize the region. Could our half-baked actions in Afghanistan serve as a reminder of our vision for them? Or our support for Musharref in Pakistan? That the only free political speech is often found only in their mosques and madrasah?

lonewolf:

the fact of the matter is that the isi and the cia ARE WORKING TOGETHER to protect bib laden or at least to coverup the fact that he is, in fact, DEAD. he knows or knew too much about past cia sponsored operations. he knows WAY TOO MUCH ABOUT U.S.-SAUDI RELATIONS in respect to future plans for much of the middle east. doubling the reward to 50 million dollars was nothing but a white smoke screen. if not, why then has he not been captured? or will he be marched out just before the elections next year?

nardami:

GANDALF; Maybe it is because the US is seen as Irael's lapdog and does not exert enough influence to help the Lebanese and Palestinians? Or that we are supporting some of the most despotic rulers in the ME (like the Saudi's)? Or that we provide arms to Muslim extremists to go fight our enemies and then crush them when they turn against us? Or maybe because US oil companies want Iranian and Iraqi oil for themselves? Or that we stationed troops in their Holy Land (Mecca) until after 9/11 when they were quietly withdrawn from Saudi Arabi?

nardami:

GANDALF; Maybe it is because the US is seen as Irael's lapdog and does not exert enough influence to help the Lebanese and Palestinians? Or that we are supporting some of the most despotic rulers in the ME (like the Saudi's)? Or that we provide arms to Muslim extremists to go fight our enemies and then crush them when they turn against us? Or maybe because US oil companies want Iranian and Iraqi oil for themselves? Or that we stationed tropps in their Holy Land (Mecca) until after 9/11 when they were quietly withdrawn from Saudi Arabi?

Mike:

Jeremy:

If you want to critique my argument, that is fine. Just don't put words in my mouth. In your zeal to attack anyone who doesn't share your enlightened views, you didn't bother to read my post. Instead you went on about your ad-hominem attacks. Pretty weak.

Nathan:

Regardless of whether or not people are told the truth, wherever there is doubt and uncertainty (such as that generated by trying to cross massive cultural divides already riddled with centuries backlog of cultural mistrust), and wherever proud people are presented with a fait accompli that demands that they swallow their pride in deference to relative power, there will be conspiracy theories. Truth, like democracy, is not some magic cure-all that only need be applied in liberal dollops to transform the world into a utopia of joy and inclusiveness. Power itself, in the reaction against power by societies that only recently (historically speaking) have had to play second fiddle in their view of the cosmos and the counter-reactions by a prosperous people not looking to abdicate power anytime soon and used to being obeyed, and the brittle human ego are at fault for the massive conspiracy theories that abound everywhere a group feels that they are being shut out of the mainstream. This is the one thread that all conspiracy theories have in common -- an instinctive reaction against the current power structure for various reasons, and a deep-seated resentment that said power structure does not share certain values and ideals with the theorist.

Robert of Los Angeles:

And Aamir Ali was bouncing off my summary response (post 3) - one point of which was "jealousy". I too wish to avoid focus on Iraq when this is about the whole world. Amar Bakshi's premise is more about the mythologies both sides create or are creating about each other, not the specific grievances. But good point, Gandalf that intervention comes from geopolitical reasoning and interests, right or wrong.

We don't intervene, Sudan, or other countries (Ethiopia, Uganda) step in for us in Somalia, or Israel does this or that, and we are always still to blame!

Phillipines asked us to leave bases and we did (they must have some secret super-strength, huh), South Africa did the impossible, ending apartheid and retaining democracy, Asia builds international trade off of forlorn islands.

Meanwhile oil rich Middle East accomplishes what???!!!

Spiktrue:

Travel is really broadening--if one doesn't let go of his commonsense and logic.
You find the same line of thinking in America that you bumped into in Asia and elsewhere: conspiracies as the "answer" to the why of complex events, for instance. Because this is the easiest, simpliest, most ready-at-hand "explanation." You don't have to study the events, analyze the various factors involved, etc.
So: in many places in Asia, when it didn't rain for some time and heat and drought besieged the countries, groups of people banded together and prayed. And Lo! It rained. Why did the rain fall at last? Why because they prayed: prayers did it. How simple the answer--why ask a climatologist with his convuluted answer that demands comprehension of natural--scientific-- processes?
A rumor is starting in America that its economy is going bad because of--"illegals"! And that these are the living "bombs" that are sent here to shatter American prosperity. A conspiracy.
At the base you will find the truth: people strive to survive in all ways available to them. Unfortunately, when confronted with dilemma ominous in its implication on their survival, they resort to voodoo thinking instead of remaining collected and sane. Its easier and so much more convinient to blame others rather than search for the difficult causes and their appropriate solutions.

Amar C. Bakshi:

Hi Gandalf, Quick clarification: The comment you are referring to above is by Aamir Ali, a reader, not me, Amar. :) Thanks for the well-wishes from the other posters. Looking forward to seeing this discussion unfold and jumping in with more shortly.

Robert of Los Angeles:

As if I should talk (I am also the famous Lindbergh of Los Angeles who will mock the "victimology" approach by recasting it as a Nazi apologist), but I believe the latest "Manour Ali" (say the first name) is a rude put-on, I hope, of Muslim beliefs.

Jim in Vermont:

Many here in Vermont do believe the 9/11 was orchestrated by President Bush.

Jim in Vermont:

Many here in Vermont do believe the 9/11 was orchestrated by President Bush.

colleen:

As long as people think they are not being told the truth there will be rumors and conspiracy theories.

Imo the only way to establish what has been going on is with an impeachment. Lets get all the facts out as best we can in a legal process. Imo the US was lied into a war of choice by a government that was interested in the oil in Iraq.

We have to clean our own house.

Lucas Westmaas:

I suppose you might not have time to do both, but it would certainly be interesting to interview both official diplomatic representatives who are well-connected both at home and in the U.S., as well as immigrants from all over the world to the U.S. to get a more populist view. The first could talk about how their countrymen view America and how it contrasts with their own official experience, which would certainly be interesting. But the latter would offer a very important contrast, talking about living and surviving in America on their own without the steady support (diplomatic and financial) from a foreign government.

The difference was clear, for example, after the Virginia Tech shootings, when a South Korean official (I forget exactly which one, I believe it was the foreign policy minister, not the ambassador) apologized on behalf of Korean Americans. I know a lot of Korean Americans were pretty angry about a Korean official apologizing on behalf of them as Americans. (And what about the difference between immigrants and children of immigrant parents? Maybe that last question goes beyond the scope of this project.)

Thanks for a great article. I really respect what you're doing, Amar.

Juhi:

Aamir:

The problem America has with Muslims/Pakistanis is that they continously threaten terror strikes and have actually carried one on 9/11 and tried many other times, including nuclear strikes (jose padilla).

Btw, why are there no minorities in Islamic nations (are they killed or run away)?

Why are Muslims not thankful to America for saving them in Bosnia, Somalia, Kuwait (Bosnia and Somalia have no oil). And America is at the forefront of trying to save Muslims in Darfur from being exterminated by other Muslims. Why no thanks for it?

Gandalf:

Manoor Ali: Let's not make this into a religious mud-slinging "fest"...don't start with religion and prophets at all!

Manoor Ali, Bangalore, India:

I want to post this before Islam haters such as Jai Khosla and Ted Baines strt posting distortions about our Prophet(PBUH.

Let us not forget that the Holy Qu'ran is the word of Allah and the Allah(SWAT) showed us how to live through Muhammad (PBUH).

Let us take the lies they tell about Aisha and the Apsotle of Allah.

It is true that Muhammad married her when she was six and he was 52. But there was no sexual intercourse until Aisha had her first period at the age of nine. Then the Holy Propeht, now 56, took her to his house and consummated the marriage.

What does this tell us?

That Allah allows men to marry and consummate with females if the female have had their menstrual periods.

Although there was a differnce of 46 years in their ages, Aisha was most beloved by Muhammad.

The above is only one instance of how Allah has showed us how to live. It does mean that every six year old girl must be married off to some one man who is in his fifties. It only means such marriages are permitted.

Molly:

OOPS, sorry for the double post. I am not that enamoured of my own opinion, it was an honest mistake!

Molly:

Thank You for a thought provoking article. Maybe it is time for the media to think about how they portray our country. It is also time for us to remember that our freedoms stop at the end of our own noses. If there were a little more of that, we all might get along together.

Molly:

Thank You for a thought provoking article. Maybe it is time for the media to think about how they portray our country. It is also time for us to remember that our freedoms stop at the end of our own noses. If there were a little more of that, we all might get along together.

Molly:

Thank You for a thought provoking article. Maybe it is time for the media to think about how they portray our country. It is also time for us to remember that our freedoms stop at the end of our own noses. If there were a little more of that, we all might get along together.

Gandalf:

I again want to stress that I am not getting into the right-or-wrong of the war (before people start yelling about how I am ignoring that this is a bad/wrong war). I just want to try and understand Amar's views on how and why "rest of the world" considers this war a religious war!

Gandalf:

Amar,

You make a good point in response to Juhi. But why do you think it becomes a "personal" issue (religiously speaking), if you will. An attack on Iraq could also be viewed as an attack on a nation that just happens to be Islamic (whether it was politically, morally, socially right or wrong is a different matter altogether). Why is it considered as an attack on Islam and not just a big nation trying to bully a small nation (again, which just happens to be Islamic)? The first Gulf war, in fact was to protect the sovereignity of another Islamic nation against aggression by Iraq. When and how did this attack become religious?

Any thoughts?

G

Aamir Ali:

Juhi:

The problem most Muslims have with America is American aggression against Muslim countres e.g. Iraq, interference in internal affairs e.g. Iran and support for military occupation e.g. Israeli occupation of Palestine.

These are all legitimate grievances and cannot be wished away by accusing Muslims of being "jealous".

ABC:

Tour America and find out what America thinks of the world, and let the world know.

Shalini Razdan:

Amar - Welcome Home! I think traveling across the US and talking to first-gen immigrants about their expectations for vs. reality of life in America is a splendid idea. Given the diversity of the populace here, the DC area is an excellent place to begin your journey.

Robert of Los Angeles - Well put! I share your views but couldn't possibly articulate them as well as you have.

Niall:

Amar, I rather like your idea of exploring the diplomatic scene in Washington. I'd really be interested in seeing the difference between the street level views of the US and the views of the diplomats and policy lobbyists.

Juhi:

Mr. Bakshi,
I think your conclusion is dead wrong. American should not and can not control the minds and violent ideas of others, especially Muslims. Much of it is result of jealously because of America's power but most of it is religious (why America is not Islamic).
You must have heard of many Muslims including bin laden threatenig America to become Islamic. How about Iran's President repeatedly calling for massacre of million of Jews in Israel?
America has helped many Muslims before but gets no thanks (Bosnia, Somalia, Kuwait).
Muslims need to look at their own actions first.

Robert of Los Angeles:

An excellent springboard for discussion as misunderstanding and “conspiracy” rule the day and skew the global media (as the strange pronouncements of this site’s GPB will attest) and US popular reaction as we consider what American pre-eminence really means or doesn’t mean.

The “global street” (whatever that is) has prejudices based on:
- The humiliation of dependence
- The lack of opportunities, political and economic, in their home country blamed onto a Mr. Big
- The changes, economic and moral, brought about by globalism, a supranational phenomenon not controlled by America or any country
- The fear of “social change” affecting their families and religion.
- The fear of violence vs jealousy of Western powers, real or imagined.

The “American reaction”
- Ignorance, both malign (don’t know, don’t have to care) and benign (self-sufficiency - unless of course you examine the labels on what you buy ). Even if you are curious about global events - it is overwhelming and unreasonable to think that the President or Congressman let alone average American could possibly know or judge the happening in 120 countries that interact with us ( Just yesterday I was looking at differences in Abu Sayyaf and the Moro Liberation Army - wondering how much and why I should study it??)
- Control, Liberate on one hand - Isolate/Ignore, Destroy on the other. Americans are for the most part ambivalent about their role in the world, even though none of the roles - policeman, banker/broker, “cultural” advertiser and monster consumer are ones we can easily change!! The world may worry about those who consider containment and confrontation of civilization clash and bringing “democracy” to where it’s not wanted (Hah!) - but the other side of American emotion is not pretty and it would be cynical and humiliating for those seeking to opt out of globalism to appeal to our pacifists and isolationists (as the result is to experience the feeling “Let ‘em rot. Forget ‘em - if they come after us again, knock ‘em into the Stone Age, it’s only a short drop)

Conclusion -
I think a smart Third Worlder lucky enough to have free access to news and information should 1) seek to engage America and the West to take seriously the responsibilities of the roles that they shoulder willingly or unwillingly, 2) not to ignore their own and their nation’s failing (avoid victimology and conspiracy thinking!!) and most important, 3) not look for heroes in as some do in such as Putin, Chavez and Bin Laden either for their own country or as some romantic counterbalance to American hegemony.

Jeremy:

It's interesting to read your note Mike in light of Bakshi's nuanced article. You espouse exactly the kind of conspiracy-laden rhetoric that classifies massive organizations as "the enemy" with yourself and those who agree with you as the purveyors of "what is good in America."

Loosening up to hear other points of view is all this article, and this project seems to be about. I've read every post and have never found it one-sided. If anything, it presents many more sides than what we normally hear in the media. Bakshi, keep trucking. Go South I say, and interview Mike.

Mike:

Gee, looks like Bakshi thinks that American politicians should "watch their mouth" and American citizens "need to understand their own role in affecting public diplomacy".

Any thought of the role of the media in this? With "journalists" like Bakshi presenting a one-sided and negative view of America? With Rosie O'Donnell on national TV saying that 9/11 was an American conspiracy? When outlets like CNN trivialize Muslim terrorism by equating it with Christian and Jewish fundamentalism? When the editorial boards of all American newspapers accusing America of wrongdoing whil never criticizing the actions of other nations?

It is amazing to me how the media refuses to acknowledge its own role in America's poor image. America is worl'd largest exporting of media and how can anyone think we are gettign a fair shake when most newspapers, most cable news, all network news, all of the movie industry, all of the TV industry and all of the music industry are relentlessly destroying America's image for partisan and ideological reasons?

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