Wednesday, February 08, 2017

It is not to laugh

Karl Sharro in Politico says, "America, you look like an Arab country right now." Excerpts:
Dear America,

We have been watching the drama of your presidential elections with much interest and curiosity for some time now. It’s hard not to notice the many similarities between our own countries and yours. From fiery inauguration protests and bitter disputes about crowd size, to the intelligence service’s forays into politics and the rise of right-wing extremists, it appears that you are traveling very much in our direction—and at the same time, like us, becoming a curiosity for foreign correspondents trying to explain what’s happening in your region to the world. You might be distraught about where you are headed, but we aren’t! Perhaps this will be an opportunity to put our differences aside and recognize how similar we are.

Let’s start at the beginning. During the campaign we were surprised to learn of the influence that the head of the American mukhabarat (state security, i.e. your FBI) can wield over the election process, simply by choosing to pursue a certain line of investigation. As you may know, this has been a constant feature of our politics since independence. Our surprise turned to astonishment when we started to witness the blossoming feud between the then-president-elect and the American mukhabarat, another important feature of Arab politics.

On top of that, we started to hear reports of foreign meddling in your elections, which some say may have influenced the result. Of course, we are quite familiar with that situation, too, not least because of the efforts of your own administrations over the decades. Yet it came as a surprise to hear talk of “foreign hands” and “secret agendas” in a country like America. We sympathize.
...
The moment at which we felt real solidarity with the American people, though, was when we started hearing BBC reporters talking to your citizens with the patronizing tone they normally reserve for the Middle East. Correspondents were sent to far-flung corners of the United States to talk to farmers and factory workers to try to understand how they feel and to ask condescending questions. I’m from the British Broadcasting Corporation, are you familiar with the BBC? Where do you get your news from? Do you feel angry? Does religion play a role in how you are voting?. (The only thing missing were pictures of people with blue ink on their thumbs; please consider introducing that practice in the future.)

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