Monday, March 10, 2003[posted by jaed at 7:55 PM]
Portrait of the shaheed as would-be dotcommer:
This article in the NYT magazine tells us about Fadi, a Jordanian who wants to kill Americans - and also wants to become a famous and rich programmer for Microsoft:
Fadi doesn't see anything strange about using American self-help tapes to get a job at an American company, while at the same time harboring hatred of the American government to the point of self-annihilation. Self-help, computer programming, the Koran and jihad are all aspects of the same thing, he says: a search for a way for a good Muslim to live in the modern world.I used to read stories like this and think the protagonists were like kids, not able to decide what they want. It's obvious that "I hate America" and "I want all the things America can give me" contains a contradiction.
I'm starting to wonder. Do people like Fadi - who isn't a kid, he's 23, which is old enough to be able to think like an adult - understand that the things they strive for, the things they use, the things they rely on every day are Western? Fadi uses NLP tapes for self-help. He's a computer programmer. He eats at the local pizza parlor. He wants to work for Microsoft.
There's a discussion somewhere in VS Naipaul's two books on the Islamic world where he's talking about Muslim leaders seeking medical care in the United States. He meets, as well, a man who spits fire against America but is trying to get his sons there to study - because it's their future. And he says an interesting thing about all this. The West, in the view he found, is evil, but what that West creates is neutral, part of the cornucopia of goods, there for Muslims to partake of. The material goods and the learning we create are not part of the West, for people of this mindset. Computers and medicine and NLP audio tapes are just... there.
For the Arab world to stop failing and start succeeding, this misapprehension absolutely must be brought down. How can you expect to have the material and mental prosperity of the West when you're trying to destroy it? You can't. How can you despise the ideas of the West - freedom, equality - while coveting the fruits of those ideas? That way lies corruption at best.
(via the indispensable Watch)