In this interesting OP-ED piece in the NY Times, Thomas Friedman writes about what I previously mentioned here, how the Arabs / Muslims can never give the Americans credit for anything! He points out the fact that no matter what the US does for the Arab and the Muslim world, nothing will shake their deep-rooted disdain towards America: In the wake of U.S. aid to help Muslim and other victims of the recent tsunami, Colin Powell suggested that maybe, now that the Muslim world had seen "American generosity" and "American values in action," it wouldn't be so hostile to America. Don't hold your breath waiting for a thank-you card. If the fact that American soldiers have risked their lives to save the Muslims of Bosnia, the Muslims of Kuwait, the Muslims of Somalia, the Muslims of Afghanistan and the Muslims of Iraq has earned the U.S. only the false accusation of being "anti-Muslim," trust me, U.S. troops passing out bottled water and Pop-Tarts in Indonesia are not going to erase that lie. It is not an exaggeration to say that, if you throw in the Oslo peace process, U.S. foreign policy for the last 15 years has been dominated by an effort to save Muslims - not from tsunamis, but from tyrannies, mostly their own theocratic or autocratic regimes. It clearly has not made much of an impression. So you will pardon me if I say that I don't care whether the state media in Saudi Arabia - whose government gave far less to the Muslim tsunami victims ($30 million) than the amount spent by King Fahd's entourage on his last two vacations in Marbella (reportedly $100 million) - say nice things about us. Ouch! He then hammers on: I believe the tensions between us and the Muslim world stem primarily from the conditions under which many Muslims live, not what we do. I believe free people, living under freely elected governments, with a free press and with economies and education systems that enable their young people to achieve their full potential, don't spend a lot of time thinking about who to hate, who to blame, and who to lash out at. Free countries don't have leaders who use their media and state-owned "intellectuals" to deflect all of their people's anger away from them and onto America. To me, this article is interesting, because it made me notice something that I didn’t notice before about my surrounding environment, which is that I can’t find any Egyptian Christians who are Anti-American. Not a single one. They may not usually voice that fact in public- Translation = when surrounded by Muslims- but in private they will tell you that they actually support what Bush is doing in Iraq and the pressure that he is putting on the region to reform. That, in turn, made me remember when I was in college, how all the Lebanese Christians were, more, or less, Bush supporters. They didn’t identify with the perspective the rest of the Arab student body had, which was that Bush was out to invade and occupy the middle-east and oppress and kill all Muslims. The rest of the Arab student body, needless to say, was all Muslim. This could lead us to one of two conclusions: The Arab Christians support the US and Bush because they identify with his faith and share his "hatred" for all things islamic or that the Arab Muslims have a biased and often skewed perspective when it comes to the US. I personally doubt that the Arab Christians are supporting Bush cause he is anti-Muslim, because in the case of war, bombs don’t discriminate; they kill Muslims and Christians the same. It’s also kind of hard for me to believe that Arab Christians are less patriotic or nationalistic the Arab Muslims , when the history of Egypt from the days of Napoleon to the Yom Kippur War has proven that in times of war religion becomes a non-issue for arabs and they usually fight side by side. Which leaves the second option: Arab Muslims have a skewed perspective when it comes to the US, no matter what the latter does for them. I had this discussion with my aunt regarding the US tsunami aid and how she also thought that the US aid to the Tsunami victims was stingy, but when I asked her about the rich Muslim or Arab countries aid, or rather how much she herself donated, she couldn’t come up with a good answer and ended mumbeling that it's not the same. I never heard a single Arab Muslim intellectual ever give the US credit for bombing the Serbs out of Kosovo and saving the Muslims from genocide. No one ever mentions that, in many ways, Afghanistan is better off now then it was under the Taliban, even when they all agree that the Taliban were on the Ckoo-Ckoo side of Islam. And, it is in many ways, the fault of the local government-backed Muslim Arab Intelligentsia that wants the populace to be angry at the US and Israel then at their own corrupt governments. The US could try and broker 100 peace conferences between the Arabs and the Israelis and it's never good enough cause the US isn’t tough enough on Israel for their liking. The US- not Saddam- is to blame for the death of Iraqi children due to their economic embargo on Iraq, even though it was Saddam who waged war against the Islamic republic of Iran for 8 years, invaded the neighboring Muslim country of Kuwait and almost invaded Saudi. Don’t blame the Muslim who was a deadly threat to his neighboring Muslims. Just blame the Americans, it’s easier that way! The Arab Christians, on the other hand, don’t really fall for that perspective, because, well, they are not Muslim and that makes them slightly more objective when it comes to judging events. They do not subscribe to the notion that Arabs are persecuted all over the world and that the US is to blame for all their problems. They are more willing to entertain the idea that Arab Muslims are a little hypocritical when it comes to self-reflection and personal assessment. They have no interest or stake in maintaining a corrupt ruler or government in place just because it is a Muslim ruler or government. Some might say they may not be completely unbiased either, for they would like to have Christian rulers or governments replace the Muslim ones. That could be true, but I have a feeling that they wouldn’t mind having a secular government that would respect Muslim and Christian’s equally rather then one group over the other, which is something the majority of arab muslims would never be for. This leaves the question, well, why do Arab Muslims act and view things this way? Well, besides the local government using the media and their flunky intellectuals to divert their subjects disdain from them towards the US, there is also the issue of Islamic pride. At some point in History, the Muslims had a great empire that even included Spain. They were a world power and a force to be reckoned with. Those days are over, but their nostalgic allure still exists in the hearts and minds of the majority of Muslims who currently live in what is referred to as Third World Countries. They blame those conditions on the old colonial empires of France and Britain instead of blaming them on leaders who had no vision or aspiration but to remain in power as long as humanely possible. It’s easier to blame the western world for your problems then to actually try to solve them. Arab Christians on the other hand never saw any glory in the Muslim empire- mainly because they were considered second class citizens those days- and see no problem blaming the inept Muslim leaders for failing to bring their country forward. While Arab Muslims will doubt that anything good will come from the west, the Arab Christians will look at what the west does well and try to emulate it. A lot of Arab Muslims seem to hang on too much to the past, while the Arab Christians seem to be interested more in their future! I just hope, that one day, the majority of the Muslim world would just stop for a minute and think in a logical, reasonable and pragmatic way, you know, the way Turkey did after the first world war. They have problems that need addressing, and the least of which is America. You know, things like education, equality between the sexes, freedom of religion and democratic reforms. But until they are able to hold an objective honest debate about what they are doing and why it seems that the rest of the world is passing them by, then they risk staying forever where they are now, while blaming the U.S. for it naturally!