The Nudnik File

Nudnik - n. U.S. colloq. Esp. in Jewish usage: a pestering, nagging, or irritating person

Friday, May 21, 2004


              The Arab Street
We pay a lot of attention to the utterances of "the Arab street", especially their reasons and justifications for actions that most would consider barbaric. The Western press, especially, seems to accept these justifications as fact without really looking at the context or the societies in which they are presented. In this column in Tech Central Station, Russ Roberts thinks that these are important considerations that need to be taken into account to truly be able to assess the view of "the Arab Street".
We should take all such statements professing an opinion, with more than a few grains of salt. In a society where truth-telling is punished relentlessly, truth-telling will be scarce. It will take a long time for Iraqis to become the good-natured interviewees we see from the streets of America.

Which brings us back to the obscene tormentors of Nicholas Berg. They and their allies who seek power want us to believe that they represent a wide-spread nearly unanimous view of the American presence in Iraq. They want us to believe that every American infidel on holy Arab soil is an intolerable presence. Instead of accepting these views on their face, we might consider the possibility that these views are the equivalent of the hardnosed negotiator who wants you to think that no compromise, no matter how small, is possible.

The war in Iraq may turn out to be a terrible mistake. It may turn out to be a boon. But either way, we should pay no more attention to the Arab street than we do to the Cuban street. When Cubans rallied to bring Elian Gonzalez back to Cuba, few were foolish enough to think it represented what those people actually felt. We had no idea. They faced constraints in their behavior that we can only imagine. The same is true of the Arab street. We pay attention to it at our peril.


|| Nudnik 12:04 PM
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