In this particular case, it’s “Rants and Raves,” a blog written by an American living in Eastern Europe. From his sidebar:
…I’ve lived in Poland, Bulgaria, Serbia and Saudi Arabia, and travel frequently to Lithuania, Belarus, Hungary and all over Eastern Europe. I met my wife in Poland and my son was born there. I started writing professionally there and was elected an Honorary Member of the Yugoslav Movement for the Protection of Human Rights in 1997. Politically I’m libertarian. (What kind? A sane one.) Culturally I’m an unashamed Western Civilization loyalist. Professionally I’m a teacher and writer, now pursuing higher education in the field of Journalism and Mass Communication, with the goal of teaching and research at the university level, likely in Eastern Europe…
You can find out more details on his blog, but - as interesting a life as he seems to lead (imagine: a Libertarian academic) what is more important is his method of participant observation whilst living among divers cultures.
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Particularly you need to read this one — Observations on Arabs, not only because this man survived working a year in Saudi Arabia, but he also brought with him the eye of an anthropologist. Thus, my reference to “participant observation.” It’s a good skill to have in any foreign culture (and America is certainly pretty foreign to those who arrive on our shores), but in Saudi Arabia, having an anthropologist’s eye might save your skin.
This blogger/anthropologist presents his caveats before going on to detail the Saudi culture:
In Eastern Europe and the South Balkans, whenever I have gone to live in a place which I had formed opinions about, the actual experience of living there has always radically changed those opinions, sometimes into a completely contradictory ones. Most often, my academic research led me to form a beautifully coherent model which experience turned into a semi-coherent collection of observations and tentative conclusions.
Eventually, he proceeds to a list. A list as in “let me count the ways I find thee strange…”
HIS PROLOGUE and DISCLAIMER:
one of the first things I learned was that the term “Arab” covers a lot of territory, here are some observations and some tentative conclusions about Arabs, more specifically about Arabs from the oil states about why we have misunderstood each other to the point that we are fighting a war with some of them and are pissing off the rest of them. I suspect that many of these also apply to Iranian Islamists, but I have never been there and note that Iranians are not Arabs and have a different cultural history.
Ain’t that the truth! So bear in mind that this is a delineation of Arab cultural differences, not Muslim bashing. The coincidence of Arab/Muslim is a close one, but not all Muslims are Arabs. And Arabs will be the first to point out, condescendingly, the difference.
He follows this with a list of differences between them and us --
1) They don’t think the same way we do.
No, I mean THEY REALLY DON’T THINK THE SAME WAY WE DO. Yes, yes, I know we are all human and share the same human nature (perhaps the most disastrous mistake of Marxism was the denial of this elementary fact). But within the scope of that shared human nature, there are a lot of different ways to be human. We Americans have a basically open attitude to our fellow human beings and sometimes forget this. Combined with the fact that most Americans are linguistic idiots, we tend to assume that anyone who learns to speak English learns to think like us…
And ending with Number 12—
12) Our civilization is destroying theirs. We cannot share a world in peace. They understand this; we have yet to learn it.
Another culturally-imposed blindness we have is the notion that everybody can get along with enough good will. There is absolutely no evidence to support this and a great deal to oppose it. Can the subjugation of women coexist with Western Civilization with Western media ubiquitous throughout the world? Can a pluralistic and tolerant society be governed by Islamic law? Can a modern economy exist where interest is forbidden and many forms of business risk-taking are considered gambling, and thus forbidden? Can a society that educates its young men by a process of rote recitation produce critically thinking, technically educated men to build and operate a modern economy? Can you even teach elementary concepts of maintenance to a people who believe that anything that happens is inshalla (As God will it)? To compete, or even just survive in the world they must become more like us and less like themselves - and they know this.
In between Numbers One and Twelve lies a treasure trove of information, some of which I’d intuited in reporting the more egregious behaviors of Saudis in this country. Others I’d never have guessed. Do yourself a favor and read the rest of the list. You’ll find out why “Inshallah” can be laziness, quietism, or a lie. In fact, learn about lying, and about why Arabs are so different from the Scots-Americans who form the backbone of America’s broad middle culture that…that we might as well be from different solar systems.
This is one academic who is neither an equivocator or a relativist. I guarantee you a good introduction to the subject.
In the meantime, I still wonder how Fjordman finds these places. Thanks are due…to both men, one for finding this gem, and the other for sharing his knowledge.
Go, therefore, and learn.