Thursday, March 17, 2005

You Mean All Of Russia Isn't Pink?

I'll explain the title in a sec...

There's an interesting analysis available at StrategyPage that is definitely worth a read. It has inspired Instapundit to publish a letter (the first letter, not the second).

I'll let those posts speak for themselves, but reading them made me think back to a great opportunity I had just after high school. Almost by pure chance, I found myself part of a group of high school and college students that was traveling to the then USSR to meet similar age students over there. The idea at the time was that both sides would be less likely to press the button if they had a real connection to the people on the other side.

One of the biggest realizations people had while on the trip was just how much the USSR looked like places they knew in the USA. There were mountains much like the Rockies, plains much like Kansas and cities with subways much like New York City. As crazy as it might sound, we were told this is a common reaction. People were used to looking at the USSR on maps in a classroom and seeing it as one amorphous (usually pink, for some reason) blob. Only when they spent the time did people realize that, just like home, it was a diverse and varied place.

The same realization, I think, needs to happen when people today think about the "Middle East". I'm am more than tired of statements that lump millions of people together as if they think as part of a collective hive-mind. "Every Arab is going to hate the US because of Bush and what he has done." Such statements are absurd. It isn't any more true that all Arabs are bound to think as one than it is that Russia (and all the former USSR) is flat and pink. The same can be said about statements from the other side of the political spectrum, statements that contend that all Arabs everywhere are a threat to freedom.

The situation in the Middle East is obviously complex. But from common thoughts and views expressed politicians, "reported" by mainstream media, voiced in blogs, etc. it would seem that a large number of people have missed the obvious.

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