Hatred between Palestinians and Israelis abides. Arab-led Islamic fundamentalism destabilizes nations from Algeria to the Philippines. The threat of terrorist attacks by al Qaeda continues. Also, our car needs gas. It is important to understand Arab culture.
Egypt seems a good place to start. Egypt is by far the most populous Arab state. And although Egypt is a poor country in per-capita-income terms, its economy is larger than Saudi Arabia's. Historically Egypt has been the most westward-looking of Arab countries. A Napoleonic invasion, an Albanian pasha named Muhammad Ali, and a British takeover gave Egyptians plenty to look at. The modern Islamist movement can be dated from the founding of the Muslim Brotherhood, by an Egyptian schoolteacher, Hassan al-Banna, in 1928. Two of Osama bin Laden's closest aides, Ayman al-Zawahiri and the late Muhammad Atef, came from Egypt, as did Mohammed Atta, who led the September 11 hijackings. And there is this thing called the "Arab street," which various serious people take seriously. In the November 11, 2001, New York Times, John Kifner wrote, "It is on just this Arab ... street that President Bush must fight in his war against Osama bin Laden." On January 24, 2002, Chris Matthews said on the television program Hardball, "America's been fighting another kind of war to win the hearts and minds of the Arab street." And on November 16, 2001, the NBC Nightly News reporter Martin Fletcher, broadcasting from Cairo, declared, "The battleground isn't only in Afghanistan; it's here in the Arab street." Well, Cairo has thousands of miles of street.
But there's a problem with Egypt. It's been around for five millennia. America is only three human life-spans in age. I'm an American born and bred, so were my folks, and ... How could the same small part of America vote for Rudolph Giuliani and Hillary Clinton? How could any part of America elect a professional wrestler as governor? Why isn't he noticeably worse than other governors? Why is the fastest-growing spectator sport in America watching cars turn left? How come I've never heard of anyone—Linkin Park, Big Tymers, Musiq—on the Billboard Top 50? Why can't they spell? By what means did the Amazon.com list of best sellers come to contain The Wisdom of Menopause, Self Matters, Look Great Naked, and BodyChange—the last by someone called Montel Williams, who is on daytime TV? Have you ever watched daytime TV? Who are these people taking DNA tests to see which one molested the Rottweiler?