On Being American– Conversations I Don’t Want to Have

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There is nothing like going abroad to make me realize how protective I am of America.  yes, when I’m home I complain about x, y and z.  But now that I am here, you better not talk trash about my country…lol..

Case in point I let myself get dragged into the dreaded Israel-Palestine argument. I’A that will not happen again. I don’t like it because it’s usually like talking to brick walls.  In my defense I didn’t start it, this girl in the cafeteria did, by saying that American foreign policy never changes and that Obama hasn’t changed the agenda much at all and that “the Jews” own and control everything. Not the Jews as  individuals  or corporations mind you, but rather… well I don’t know what she meant by that…. I think she was implying that they were their own branch of the government… I think.

At any rate, that’s nothing that I haven’t heard before. But she then goes on to tell me that there is nothing for Palestinians to learn from the US civil rights movement because black people were trying to get integrated but “Palestinians are not integrated at all”…hmmm I guess she didn’t understand that the point of the movement for integration was that the black community was not integrated into the white one (and it still isn’t sometimes…but I digress).

Her main point was that Palestinians were 100% right in whatever they do and that they should keep on with their attacks until they win.

hmmm what else? Oh yes, the most important point of all, I don’t understand Palestinian suffering because I haven’t experienced it by living in privileged America.

That’s just about the most ridiculously patronizing thing I have heard in a while. Even after I broke down for her that I’m not some American that has never left US soil, that my family is from Sierra Leone and I could tell you some things from what’s happened to them that would make you shiver, her response was well, I live in the Middle East and have experienced it.

Which Middle Eestern country you might ask?…. Bahrain! freaking Bahrain!  Yes, she is practically in the Gaza strip :(…

Never mind my 2 degrees in Middle East Studies— I don’t live in Bahrain, so I have nothing of value to say.

—- Hence why I almost NEVER discuss this issue— but it wasn’t my fault honest….

The summary of how the discussion/argument went is a bit choppy, but I really didn’t totally disagree with her.  I just didn’t agree with half the stuff that she was saying, and ask people to qualify their statements— which she didn’t do all the time.

At any rate, we don’t have to agree all the time, this is normal, heck we don’t have to any  time.

I really am  tired of trite diatribes and people sounding like parrots…  Maybe it’s just me, but my worldview is all about practical, objective ways to resolve issues…. maybe that’s why I don’t run anything, not even my own life…lol!…

But seriously I think there  is a bit of language barrier going on too, her English is perfectly good,  but sometimes I think messages get cross wired somehow— I know I do that in Arabic too, you sort of latch on to one meaning, perhaps the main meaning of a word, and when someone uses it outside of that context you misunderstand the message. Or maybe it’s just a very different format for argumentation than I can understand.

I don’t know if that girl and I will talk anymore….the conversation did get pretty civil after that.  Although, oh well no free homestay in Bahrain for me…lol—-

My Bahraini is entitled to here opinion, and in the end that is exactly what I told her.  Well I also said that she shouldn’t expect me to accept her point of view as my own.

———————–

This conversation is symptomatic of many things:

I really hate it when people who have never set foot in the US try to tell Americans what America is and what it isn’t.  What US politics is and what it isn’t.  It’s happened in every country I’ve been to and it really makes mad!

I’m not sure whether to roll my eyes or just ignore statements like:

“America is a very unsafe place”— how the  do you know that?— and what does that mean?

“Americans are all fat and eat Mcdonalds all the time”—- Um do I look fat to you? because we’re the same size.

I know Americans get a bad rap for being ignorant.  But I have met plenty of people ABROAD that give the most ignorant Joe schmo a run for his money.  At least Joe accepts the fact that he’s ignorant, heck he may even revel in it.  I think it’s worse to make authoritative, blanket statements that aren’t really rooted in much besides what you think things must be like. Or worse still, tv shows and movies.  I am not one of those “Flavor of love Girls“…. and I don’t hang out with Ross and Rachel in the part of NYC where apparently no black people exist… and I am not afraid of Arabs or Muslims (yeah get that too).

I hate it when people try to define who I am, my society, and what my life experiences must be.

I don’t live, have never lived and will probably never live in Saudi, and as such certain things are off limits in my mind at least, as to what I can say about it. But everybody wants to talk about America and tell Americans what it is, isn’t and should be. Sigh…. too many bad memories of stupid arguments.

I really do hope no more Israel-Palestine— but I can’t always sit by and let people make blanketed, ignorant comments…    that’s just how it has to be.

—–

and another thing, that strikes me as a  bit weird, why is what religion are you/are yo Muslim like the first question after what is your name?—lol… It’s weird from an American perspective, I guess because religion is a more private affair than it is here…. hmmm maybe this warrants an entire blog entry in itself.

It’s just not a question that I would ever ask someone off the bat.  Maybe after getting to know them for a minute… but different strokes for different folks.

— and another thing… Don’t ask me who I voted for! That’s nunya!

———————–

Wow, this post is more like a streak of grievances with living abroad.

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