As many of you will already know, “I have issues” with some of the things that Islamists do in the world.
Yet, the peculiar fact is, that I like Arabs.
What? You think that’s a problem? Sorry, but it’s not.
I share very many values with Arabs (and, truth be told, with Islam).
In many ways, I find my beliefs and my “feelings” are much like those of Lawrence Of Arabia. I am not ‘of their tribe’, yet my blood stirs with understanding at their words and their deeds. ( I also like fast motorcycles, which was how L’awrence met his end in a road accident in England).
A senses of duty.
A bond of honor.
An appreciation of the sacred Word.
Desire for some amount of “adrenaline” from time to time.
A tendency to subtle complexity and indirection…
The extraordinary sense of the importance of being true to belief and promises.
There is much that binds.
I don’t know what it is. I can not say what cause, or root, feeds it. Hell, I even have the “appreciation” of the utility of the occasional strategic assassination and the schadenfreude at history.
I’ve worked in an Arab owned and run company. FWIW, I’m fairly sure it was a “front” for an intelligence agency from a particular country from the Middle East. No, I will not say which one. Why? Because I earned their trust. And trust must be symmetrical.
One person shared that he was brother-in-law of the director of the Secret Service of said country. Another let slip that he was a “Prince” in the realm. There were things and times that made it clear to me that two others were “agents”. (A tendency to not do much of the ‘real work’ of the company. Not interacting much with others. Going on ‘walks’ together to places where surveillance would be difficult. And more.)
FWIW, I was AT that company when 911 happened. I “shared” with the “brother-in-law” my feelings about things. (That “The typical American will not care if the Islamic world glows in the dark from Morocco to Indonesia; this ends here and it ends now.”) I also offered that “I have access to guns. Lots of guns. Let me know if you need protection. I do not know how bad this will get.” Both are direct quotes. Both “are me”.
I’d have loaded up the car with a dozen guns and 1000+ rounds of ammo and headed over to his house if “He and his” were in danger from a “mob”. He had my cell number and knew I responded fast. I had been treated honorably by them, I had a duty bond to do the same.
I also am quite sure that my “opinion” of things was sent back to the “home country”. (They aligned with the US position and helped to assure that things did not escalate.) They knew my assertions could be trusted as honest and true.
We had a bond.
Would I have taken up arms and protected this Muslim Arab against Americans, attacking with a justified passion?
I had given my word, said my bond.
I had been treated honorably. These folks had done no wrong. They were not the cause of any bad thing at all. They were, simply put, good and honorable men. Yes, I was pretty sure they were an agency of a foreign power. So? I had taken a job with them, they fulfilled their side of the contract, and I’d fulfilled mine. The final hire interview with the ‘main guy’ had been a bit odd. A degree of questioning and ‘probing’ that didn’t make sense at the time; but did in retrospect. He was looking for folks who ‘knew’ and folks who were being ‘planted’. Only later did I ‘make the connections’. But these folks and even that country were not the folks who flew planes into buildings in NYC. They were innocent. So I willingly told them that I stood ready to help them should things get out of hand with “my countrymen”.
I also consciously sent a message back ‘upstream’ that should their country side with the attackers, no good would come of it, but should they side with the attacked, we would stand with them. My personal bond of “guns, lots of guns” if they were in trouble.
Did I have any effect?
I don’t know.
I can say that “the country in question” sided with the USA in the following “issues”.
Simply this: We had a bond of honor. Man to man. I would provide guns, and die protecting their innocence against stupidity, if needed. They would understand that their bond of honor to me had been reciprocated. They would “take that home”.
The peculiar thing is that the shared understanding in that “exchange” is just the thing that makes me like Arabs. We understand each other in a very peculiar way. Both of us in some strange way creatures of a common ethos.
We may not agree on many particular things (like the status of women or the decrees of religion), yet, we understand each other and agree to respect.
So I have a bond. I know particular people who are quite certainly agents of a foreign power. I will not “out them”, nor their country. For the simple reason that they trusted me. We are “brothers” in trust. A bond that can not be broken.
It is that ‘sense of things’ that binds me to the Arab culture. We both are “duty bound and honor bound”.
It’s a very peculiar thing.
I am L’awrence.