Saturday, October 07, 2006

Isaac's Journey

Isaac Schrödinger calls himself a Pakistani-born, ex-Muslim, refugee-claimant, who is pro-USA. He details his journey from ordinary Pakistani Muslim, the son of a Pakistani expatriate working in Saudi Arabia, to an ex-Muslim yearning to be an American in a series of posts on his eponymous blog. His personal collision of cultures came when he studied in America and Canada. A sample of anecdotes follows.

His schooling in Saudi Arabia was based on memorization, not critical reasoning:
"We only copied and memorized the history of Islam and Pakistan, the various prayers in Arabic, the numerous feats of science, and the various stories in Urdu and English. Most of us never learned them. Such was the art of "ratta." Sadly, students even memorized the math problems for homework. They could instantly write the solutions for the math problems they had seen before. Yet, the same problems with different numbers would confound them."

Schrödinger contrasts the difference between his American and Saudi schools:
"Most students in Saudi Arabia would go through their entire education without asking a single question. The fear of offending the teacher and thus receiving verbal and physical abuse was always a present danger. Yet, in the US, students would often say that they didn’t get the material. The teacher, instead of being offended, would try a different approach or provide a new example to illuminate the situation. I finally had true teachers after 10 years of barbarity."
Schrödinger stayed with American families during school breaks and was surprised to find himself welcome:

"There were a few breaks during the school year. The school and the dorms would close at such time. So, resident students had to find a place for themselves. The school offered, for a small price, the option of residing with a local family when the dorms were closed. It was an economical choice.

My first stay was very pleasant. The family had one son about my age and a friendly dog. The American family was genuinely warm and interested in my alien culture. Later, that hospitable experience was repeated with another family. Through many conversations, we learned a lot about each other. I was surprised to hear about so many different backgrounds of these few Americans and they were amazed at the harsh punishments for crimes in Saudi Arabia. These experiences helped shape my views of Americans.

I can honestly say that I talked longer and with more Americans in any 10-day period in the US than I did with Arabs in over 10 years in Saudi Arabia. I was a student in Saudi Arabia for over a decade, yet not one friendly Arab ‘brother’ invited me or any of my family members to his home. We spent all the time within our detached Pakistani community. However, in a couple of years in the US, I spent many days with different families. They were always respectful of my customs. They didn’t cook pork or use alcohol in the food when I stayed with them. Their understanding, generosity and openness were in stark contrast to the Arabs."

When he returned to Saudi Arabia, Schrödinger found that his Saudi landlord did not respond well to his Amerian education:

"The landlord came over once and was talking to my dad in the guest room. I wanted to meet him simply for courtesy. “Do you need any help?” he asked my dad in Arabic as I entered the room. He laughed as he saw me. “Oh, you already have help!” We moved towards each other to shake hands. At that very moment, my dad mentioned that I was doing my studies in the US. Immediately, revulsion was etched in his face. He took his eyes off me as though I was a maggot-infested carcass. He backed off and motioned me away with both hands as someone would a leper.

My dad did nothing except laugh. I was filled with rage as I lowered my hand and left the room. Later, my dad said that the landlord tried to convince him of sending me to a highly reputed madrassa in Saudi Arabia for a decent education. My dad politely and repeatedly refused."

Schrödinger found that his fellow Muslims in Canada were disgruntled with late night talk show monologues lampooning Bin Laden after the Sep 11 attacks:
"From my experience, the reactions of the Muslims in Canada ranged from indifference to outright support of Islamists. It made little sense because these Muslims would never live in an environment with harsh Islamist rules."

Schrödinger describes the Muslim reaction to the Sep 11 attacks in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia:
"The days that followed were unreal. “The planes were remote controlled by the Americans. That’s why it was easy for them to be slammed into the buildings.” “They want to start a war to go after Afghanistan.” “How could Osama pull off 9/11? He is thousands of kilometers away in Afghanistan.” “The US is the superpower, isn’t it? So, how could supposedly 19 Arabs cause such havoc to such a super country?” “The US wants to subjugate Muslims.” That’s just what I heard from my family.

The situation was not much different in the newspapers and magazines. Every time the media mentioned Osama in a story, the “who is blamed for 9/11 by Washington” was not far behind. I was reading through a Pakistani magazine where in the letters section was this gem. “The attacks on 9/11, which we all know were caused by Mossad,...” It was mind-numbing. The Muslim world simply couldn't agree as to who was behind the 9/11 attacks when the plain truth was staring them in the face.

Though, what they could all agree on was a sense of uninhibited joy. Whether it was Americans, Israelis or the tooth fairy that was behind 9/11, they didn't mind the auspicious atrocity. My dad told us of a blue Saudi in his office. “He was distressed because he wanted the twin towers to topple sideways for more death and carnage.” I felt sick.

The US, just a decade before, had sent half a million of her finest to save the Saudis from imminent danger. On 9/11, the citadel of the US was attacked, thousands of innocents were murdered, and the ingrate citizens of Arabia were delighted.

Many went a step further and defended the "innocent" Muslims of Afghanistan. Saudi Arabia was one of three countries which not only recognized the Taliban regime but also sympathized with it. The attack on the pure Islamic state of Afghanistan was considered an attack on Islam itself. It seemed that with a few exceptions the entire Muslim world had gone stark raving mad. Instead of opposing the evil regime of Afghanistan, they openly supported it.

There were women in Pakistan who publicly supported the Taliban. That made about as much sense as blacks in favor of the KKK. It felt like being in a lunatic asylum where the US was attacking Muslims and the Taliban were gentle and sinless creatures. Many Muslims had supported Saddam against the US, more than a decade before 9/11. Why? Because he's a Muslim! Again, the same horrid logic was being used to defend the most wretched and wanted man in the world."

Schrödinger sees no reconciliation between the Western and Muslim worlds:

"The West simply can’t please the Muslim world. The Umma [the Muslim community] basically manufacture reasons to hate the West. There’s a conspiracy theory to back up each and every grievance for loathing the West. The infidels, in the minds of most Muslims, are out to destroy their communities.

However, their very Islamist rules cripple a functioning society. Their one-and-only solution to every perceived problem is more Quran, more Islam, more aping of Muhammad, more 7th century barbarism - in one word, Islamism. That was, and is, by far the loudest force in the Muslim world.

Very few, very precious few, look at the US, and the West in general, and say, “How about emulating those successful folks?” The rest are shocked and ask, “You want the Great Satan and his minions to be our role models!?” That is enough to shut up most liberals in the Muslim world."

Schrödinger on Saudi Arabia, where conspiracy theories are King:

"There was no respite from conspiracy theories in Saudi Arabia. “4000 Jews were told not to show up at the WTC as Mossad carried out the 9/11 attacks.” The following is one of my favorites. “The entire War on Terror is a scheme cooked up by Israel and the US to attack and keep down the Muslim world.” That’s particularly rich considering that the overall economic and democratic condition of a Muslim country improves after the US attacks.

This one is for hating the US even when there’s no open war. “The US steals Saudi oil. The Americans in Saudi Arabia pump [let’s say] 20 million barrels of oil but write down, and pay for, only 10 million. They’ve been doing that since 1991!” Let it not be said that the Muslim world is not creative. They have an incredible talent for creating a conspiracy theory for every event and occasion. The sad result is that they end up hating the Jews and the Americans more than their own tyrants and terror masters."

Schrödinger returned to study in Canada after Sep 11 and found Canadians to be dimwitted America-bashers:

"I went back to Canada and started my new university year in the fall of 2002. After the Axis of Evil speech everyone knew that Saddam was the number one target. The Unfinished War of 1991 would finally be brought to an end. That made for some very dull and sometimes absorbing conversations.

The usual charges would often be brought up: “War for OOILLL,” “No moral authority,” “Imperialism.” It was strange that people who placed themselves on the right of the political spectrum were easily demonized by many Canadians but calling real evil by its name was considered uncouth.

In a conversation about the US and Iraq: “Bush is evil,” a friend pontificated. “What do you mean?” “He looks evil,” he replied. “Hunh.” “I think Saddam is also bad from what you have said...” He really didn’t think that Saddam was objectively evil. Saddam was just being puffed up to be this BIG BAD BUTCHER so that the US could easily take him on.

Later, I was talking to a different friend. We were in a group of four in which two guys were spectators. I was tallying the crimes of Saddam and the reasons for the West to take him out. My friend didn’t have much of a reply. “You talk like...” Everyone was attentive. “ American.” There were audible gasps from the other two guys.

Remember, this was a group of university students, so often the language was R-rated. But still, calling someone an American in Canada is harsh. “Yeah, so?” was my reply. They all laughed. The conversation always ended when one played the “American” card. Instead of calling me ignorant or jingoistic or a warmonger, the umbrella term would be employed to convey all the negative stereotypes.

It was the same as when my dad’s friend called me an American or when my mom said that “you talk like a Jew.” These remarks said more about the people making them than about myself."

Schrödinger, knowing both West and Islam, sees a long-term war that we must win:

"Our war against the Islamists will be multi-generational. The US has to fight. She has no other choice. We’ve tried leaving the Middle East alone in its soup of hatred, the result of which we witnessed on 9/11. The Islamists do not fully understand the West. They do not comprehend the latent might of the American Republic and they constantly deny the dignity of freedom in Israel. They truly believe that they’ll make us kneel before them. If not today, then twenty years from now. For them it is only a matter of time.

It is up to the US to prove them wrong. We must destroy Al Qaeda, crush Hamas, smash the Iranian regime, and grind the Saudi rulers into powder. We must completely and utterly annihilate Islamism.

Many Westerners didn’t say a word of support for the tortured and oppressed population of Iraq. We had useful idiots before, today we have useful infidels. They are quick to point out all the supposed evils of the West but when it comes to Islamists, the silence is deafening. They effortlessly consume freedom, yet refuse to even rhetorically support the providers and defenders of liberty: the Allied armed forces with major credit to the US troops."


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