Diana Moon defends Salam Pax

not only that, with wit, emotion, compassion, and steel-trap rigor of logic:

The blogosphere has been pretty hard on Arabs and I have chimed right in. One of the things that us Yank-bloggers have had the most sport with is the fact that, Arabs have an "honor-shame" culture. This is supposed to be alternately risible and terrible, especially juxtaposed with our Western, rational-fact-based-transactional-impersonal culture. I mean, they've got narghilas, we've got cruise missiles, which culture is superior?*

I think that human beings are more than the sum of their parts, and that all societies are more-or-less composed of all these qualities. In any case, I have a big honor deal going on in my own life. I experienced the 9/11 attack as (among other things), a huge diss. Our honor was impugned. We had to avenge our honor to be whole again.

So, when Salam responded to me as he did on that occasion, giving me his full name, he was saying, "Here. I extend my sympathies, on my honor, with my family name."

I don't need any more proof than that.


I used to read Diana's site, and she and I had a long email discussion almost a year ago which unfortunately led to a falling out. I suppose I was still refining my civility instincts and was too rough at the edges, unable to simply say "let's agree to disagree" (a common failing in my Internet activities). I regret that.

I haven't been back to her site in a while, apart from briefly visiting to read her critique of one post I made. But when i saw Salam Pax had linked to her defense of him, I had to visit and was quickly drawn in. Her writing is powerful, intensely personal, and strictly moralistic, which sounds like a bad thing, but in this case isn't . It's well worth reading her entire post in defense of Salam and her blog in general, I know I will make an effort to do so again.

Her point about Arabs and humans in general is one I have been making as well. Honor-shame, face, etc - all of these are just aspects of a common humanity. To throw out a stereotype like "Arabs have a face culture" is to self-filter your worldview, which will interfere with your understanding (though it certainly feels the opposite). And ultimately this means less dialouge, argument instead of debate, and retreat instead of compromise and solutions.

No comments: