Friday, June 15, 2007

The more things change,

the more they stay the same - including imperial propaganda concerning those conquered or colonized. Case in point:

A 2003's "Soldier's Guide to the Republic of Iraq," issued by the Army on the eve of the U.S. invasion, tells troops that Arabs see "little virtue in a frank exchange" and are "by American standards... reluctant to accept responsibility."

Those are just a few of the surprising passages found while leafing through the booklet, prepared by the Army’s 101st Airborne Division. Here are some excerpts from the “cultural considerations” chapter:

- There is little virtue in a frank exchange. Getting down to business may always occur at a later meeting or a more informal setting such as dinner.

- Arabs, by American standards, are reluctant to accept responsibility… if responsibility is accepted and something goes wrong, the Arab is dishonored.

- Arabs operate by personal relations more than by time constraints.

- Arabs, by American standards, are reluctant to accept responsibility.

- Arabs do not believe in upward mobility or social status; they gain status by being born in the right family.

- Arabs do not shake hands firmly. If an Arab does not touch you, it usually means that he does not like you.

- It is said that the Arab likes to feel your breath in their face. As you back away, the Arab will continue to shuffle forward. This is known as the “diplomatic shuffle.”

- An Arab sees friendships with anyone outside the family as meaning, “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.”

To a large degree, these statements are strikingly similar to the ones made by the British regarding the indigenous people they colonized in India, Egypt, etc.; and that the French made regarding the colonized peoples of Algeria and Tunisia - all one must do is to peruse a few volumes by such scholars and activists as Edward Said (e.g., Orientalism, and Culture and Imperialism), Albert Memmi (e.g., The Colonizer and the Colonized), and Frantz Fanon (e.g., The Wretched of the Earth) to see that the psychology of the colonizers really hasn't changed too terribly much over the past century.

Hat tip to Madman in the Marketplace over at Marisacat's blog.

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