by Kung Fu Zu 10/8/17
When the First Gulf War erupted, I felt the urge to try and understand Arab culture and history so I bought a number of books to help me in this pursuit. One of those books was The Arab Mind, by Raphael Patai.
I found the book to be extremely interesting and informative. One lesson, in particular, has stayed with me since reading this book over twenty-five years ago. That is the tendency of Arabs to mistake words for action. A few quotes from the book will serve to give the reader a good feeling for what this means.
The satisfaction which follows is counterproductive inasmuch as it tends to militate against actually following up the oral declaration by the action described. Once the intention of doing something is verbalized, this verbal formulation itself leaves in the mind of the speaker the impression that he has done something about the issue on hand, which in turn psychologically reduces the importance of following it up by actually translating the stated intention into action. It is in this sense that in the Arab mentality words often can and do serve as substitutes for acts.
“displacement of the perceptual images by the linguistic one, which for all practical purposes are treated as if they were the real thing and not just a linguistic representation of it.”
“they confuse the word, the symbol, with the reality that once lay behind it.”
The intention of doing something, or the plan of doing something, or the initiation of the first step toward doing something-any one of these can serve as a substitute for achievement and accomplishment.
Being familiar with these observations helped me understand the seemingly insane and wildly unrealistic proclamations made by Saddam Hussein and his henchmen during both Gulf Wars. I can still hear Baghdad Bob claiming Iraqi forces were defeating American forces outside of Baghdad, while one could hear gunfire in the background.
The ability to live outside of or create one’s own reality did not bother me too much as long as it was practiced by an American foe. But it bothers me greatly that this trait seems to have infected a good portion of Americans. To be specific, I am concerned that a very large percentage of those who consider themselves conservatives have turned into Baghdad Bob clones, who think that by simply saying or writing something they are actually doing something in the cause of conservatism.
“Actions speak louder than words” is a truism which every child in America once understood. These days, I wonder if it is still the case.
Kung Fu Zu is a conservative prognosticator who has traveled widely and lived outside the United States. He paints his reality in indelible ink on a high-quality Realville canvas.