Policy Brief on the NDAA

My latest policy brief for the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding is now available.

I went to their annual gala last weekend, and a smaller, more exclusive, luncheon on Sunday. There is something just a bit strange about being one of less than a handful of Christians (culturally, that is) in a roomful of Muslims. White guys like me are only rarely minorities. But these folks are some of the most delightful, warm, and welcoming people you’ll ever meet. The contrast between these people that I know personally, and the public image of the Muslim that some promulgate is like the difference between Grizzly Adams and the Uni-bomber.

And Wajahat Ali is one of the best public speakers I’ve ever heard. Very funny, very charismatic, very intelligent.

About J@m3z Aitch

J@m3z Aitch is a two-bit college professor who'd rather be canoeing.
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9 Responses to Policy Brief on the NDAA

  1. Pink says:

    One of the books on my currently being read shelf is The Myth of the Muslim Tide by Doug Saunders.

    Check it out here: http://www.amazon.com/The-Myth-Muslim-Tide-Immigrants/dp/0307951170

  2. Matty says:

    Is this the place to mention recent events in Lybia?

    I don’t like violence but it is striking to to see the ‘Arab street’ rise up out of sympathy for a murdered American diplomat.

  3. James Hanley says:

    Indeed. As tentative as our response to the revolution in Libya was (and I’m not saying that tentativeness was necessarily bad), they seem to appreciate the support we gave.

  4. lancifer666 says:


    The BBC piece, to which you link, is encouraging to some extent.

    There is a struggle in many parts of the world between those that favor pluralism and democracy and those that wish to impose sectarian and authoritarian regimes. The US government, and the west in general, are in a precarious position. We want to give support to those favoring democracy but can’t be seen to be too influential in the process.

  5. lancifer666 says:

    James Hanley,

    I have always been struck by the generosity and gregariousness of Arab cultures. But there is a flip side to that culture. They are a bit thin skinned about conflict and have a very aggressive manner of showing it.

    I once had an Egyptian landlord that was very friendly and giving when I paid my rent on time and didn’t require anything from him. But I also got to see a very different side of him when the furnace in my small duplex apartment went out one frigid December evening.

    To make a long story short I had to get the Health Department to send him a notice telling him it was his responsibility to make sure the apartment had heat.

    I received a phone call I will never forget.

    Me “Hello?”


    Me “Uh, who is this?”


    Me “What?”


    I hung up.

    When I called the City of Indianapolis they told me that they had sent a notice to him and that he had 48 hours to get my heat back on, but that meant he would just get another notice and so on…

    They said I could legally leave and demand my deposit back.

    I was 26 and had no money to go anywhere else so being a mechanically inclined guy I took the old 1930’s Giant Robot looking, gravity fed, fuel oil furnace apart and found the problem. I fixed it in about six hours and about $50 bucks in jury rigged parts and got the heat back on.

    I sent my next rent payment to him with a note that said it was $150 light for the repair parts and my time.

    I didn’t hear from him for about three months.

    One day he shows up with his younger, and much bigger, brother and is all smiles and greetings.

    Since that time I have had many interactions with Arabs and this pattern is disturbingly familiar. They are exceedingly giving and outgoing until you have a disagreement, then the other side of the culture appears.

    I don’t think it is evil or anything just very different than what western people are used to. I have learned that if you know the boundaries you can throw it back at them and that they almost expect some back and forth dram before coming to an agreement.

    I’m sure diplomats that deal with Arab officials have learned to negotiate this turbulent landscape.

  6. lancifer666 says:

    On a lark I googled “Arab culture Machismo” (for lack of a better word).

    I found several articles that mentioned that the cultural behavior was passed from Arab northern Africans to Spain during the time when Spain was heavily influenced by interactions with Arab culture.

    I didn’t read the entirety of the articles, so it may be so much clap trap, but it fits what I have observed personally from males in both Latino and Arab cultures.

  7. Matty says:

    My understanding is that there were probably a lot of influences on Spain from the Arab world in the centuries of Al Andalus but these are at least partly hidden because16th Century Spanish monarchs and their supporters tried to obscure their complex (and largely Islamic) history to present themselves as pure Catholics. For instance family trees were altered so anyone of significance was descended from the Christian enclaves in the far north and the once large Spanish Muslim population were recast as foreign invaders who had all been driven back to north Africa rather than local people who converted back and forth as their rulers changed.

  8. lancifer666 says:


    It is interesting that Latin America similarly has tried to obscure its pagan (meaning non-Christian) roots and is ostensibly the most Catholic part of the world.

    History is a fascinating window into human behavior.

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