Usually this has to go on link round ups, but I find this blogpost so important that I can’t help sharing it as an independent blogpost. Infidel753, one of the best people commenting here frequently, has a pretty awesome blog and this is a very important topic and something I’ve been trying to say all the time.
Infidel753 argues that American media and commentators think every topic is about them, and analyze every event as if it has happened because of an American policy. This is something that is true about both sides; both liberals and conservatives are guilty of this. In the current crisis in Iraq, the liberals say “This happened because we invaded Iraq”, and conservatives say “This happened because we pulled out of Iraq”, and while certainly American policy plays a major role and affects us deeply it’s infuriating to see Americans and the rest of westerners constantly trying to reduce our situation into talking points about their own domestic policies.
It’s a mind-set I encounter again and again. If anything happens in the Middle East, especially if it affects us, it must somehow be caused by something the West did. Jihadism is a reaction to colonialism or the existence of Israel (you’d think the intense jihadist targeting of places like Russia, Nigeria, Kenya, India, Thailand, etc. would tip people off that there are other factors at work). The Arab Spring is to be credited to an American administration wiser than the last, as if hundreds of thousands of people who braved the guns of the dictators took their inspiration from Washington. The breakthrough in nuclear negotiations with Iran is similarly credited to nuances of American policy, not to a new and courageously reformist Iranian President or the gargantuan mass street protests of 2009 which intimidated the ayatollahs enough to make his election possible. Middle Eastern people are, apparently, passive and inert and never take initiatives; they only react to things that Westerners do.
I blame this mind-set partly on the fact that most Americans, including liberals, know very little about the internal social and political dynamics of Middle Eastern societies — so when they need an explanation for something, they retreat to the familiar, especially if they can turn it into an opportunity to praise or condemn the policies of some American politician whom they wished to praise or condemn anyway.
I couldn’t have said it better myself. You can read the rest of the article here.
This is something I’ve touched upon myself, in the article I wrote for Dan Fincke titles 7 Ways Westerners Can Help Ex-Muslims. Here is what I had to say:
3) Don’t make EVERYTHING about the west and your own country.
I think people who do this are usually well meaning, but I’m not sure if they aren’t a bit selfish. And both liberals and conservatives are guilty of it. Whenever there’s some news on HuffingtonPost or another liberal outlet about widespread election fraud or corruption or torture or execution, there are some people who comment “Oh maybe we should stop talking about other countries because we also have Bush and voter register laws and Wall Street or Guantanamo”. Or maybe you shouldn’t, because those people in those other countries are also human beings, and their suffering matters a bit too. Don’t be that person, please.
Also, don’t attribute everything that happens in our countries only to colonialism and western imperialism. Many factors were involved. Imperialism was one of them. But not everything is about imperialism. We have agency of our own. We are more responsible for our situation than you.
Care for Muslims and ex-Muslims in the Islamic world because they are human beings. Don’t discard our agency and don’t turn us into a pawn in your own political agenda – whether liberal or conservative. Thank you very much.