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The vulgar American
Random thoughts on bad manners 


July 25, 2006  

I am deeply disappointed in President Bush’s manners. He was already ugly enough as a rude caricature of a wannabe statesman. Now this week he revealed aspects of himself that frankly are not becoming of a prodigy belonging to a self-styled class of American aristocracy. The video of the president’s statesmanlike shit-shat with the English Prime Minister Tony Blair is being replayed in the US for the use of the four letter word “shit.” But the tape tells a longer tale.

First, the preppie and Yale-educated son of a statesman is shown calling Tony Blair over with a jovial “Yo, Blair,” as if he was calling his lackey (may be so!). The then clears shows the president chewing his food with his mouth open -- a disgusting and crude table manner even in the most backward parts of this planet. Next the video shows him talking with his mouth full -- my, o, my, I am sure Babs Bush would have taught him differently if this guy had spent some quality time around the table with his cultivated folks. I dread to think how he manipulates his utensils.

This man is a barbarian in suit, I say. President Bush use of the word “shit” was not just a remark born out of a colloquialism referring to the general state of affairs in Lebanon. It is no secret that there some phonetic temptation to associate the word “Shi’ite” with “shit” in English, as there is to do the same with Chi’i and chier in French). The president thinks the Shi’ite are shit. Period. Many among the readers on this site think so too. I do not. I think Shi’ism to Islam is what Protestantism has been to Christianity and in many ways Shi’ism is the Christian West last good hope to come to term with Islam. The difference between the Shi’ite and Sunni Moslem is simply one -- who would have succeeded the prophet Mohammad.

The Sunni say that the leadership of the umma (community) should have devolved on a person selected by the tribal chiefs, much along the tribal tradition of the Arabian tribes. The Shi’ite -- originally known as the Aliat (Supporters of Ali) -- believed that the leadership of the community belonged to Ali, the Prophet’s son-in-law and first cousin. This is the only theological difference between Sunni and Shi’ite -- the other differences between the two are simply ethnic and cultural. Shi’ism can count among its sects the progressive Ismailiyya, the Bahai and the often-forgotten Ibadhi (who predominate and rule Oman). The Sunnis, on the other hand, can be proud of the intolerant schools of Ibn Hanbal, the Wahhabi (who mired the British in the Persian Gulf), Salafiyah (who foment from the Philippines to Somalia) and Al-Qaeda, the people who brought down the World Trade Center towers in 2001. The Shi’ite clergy (especially the ruling theologians in Iran) that who do not tolerate any Shi’ite doctrine other than the Twelver Shi’ism are wrong and do an enormous disservice to the legacy of Ali.

This guy, Ali, is the one whose name connects five times every day the Moslems from Lebanon to Pakistan, Iran to Saudi Arabia -- His name is intoned in the Shi’ite communities every day, five times, at prayer time in the phrase “Ali al-wali-Allah,” “meaning “Ali, friend [companion] of God.” Not exactly like “Christ, son of God,” but a close second. No wonder why Shi’ism and Christianity have a lot more in common than anyone is willing to admit! Were it not for the oil of Saudi Arabia and then ottoman proximity with the Europeans, the West probably would have preferred sleeping with the Shi’ite Persia (Iran) than flirting with the Sunni (Arab and Turk) rulers. Or maybe not.

I do not expect President Bush to get my drift -- that is okay, because he has other things on his plate -- such as explaining (esplayning, as Ricky Ricardo would say) to Mrs. Bush why he suddenly lunged forward and began giving the Lady-Fuhrer of Germany a shoulder massage. A few months ago here in Massachusetts a chief executive officer of a public company was fired for hugging his employees. Of Lebanese ethnicity, the guy claimed that he was being friendly by the rules of his culture! Now here is the President of the United States assaulting the German chancellor in Russia, of all paces! The poor woman was petrified -- and seems to have cringed at the notion of being worked over by the vulgar American. 

This is the problem -- the Lebanese and American have no sense of whom not to embrace. The Lebanese go ahead and espouse an organization devoted to make life hell for Israel. The Americans espouse the State of Israel, which is devoted to genocidal pursuits of his own choosing.

This week the icon of American kaka-diplomacy, Miss Rice, was equally true to form. When asked about the US hesitancy to call fro a cease-fire in Lebanon, she replied that cease-fire by itself is meaningless uncles it addresses the “root cause” of the problem! This gibberish from the secretary of state in an administration that is so about “life” that it vetoes stem-cell research! Miss Rice, how about saving lives -- how is that for a meaningful purpose to a cease-fire? Never mind that, I say. The chick is as vulgar as her boss.

The root cause of war (or absence of peace in the Middle East) is one and only one -- the American democracy. When Truman okayed the establishment of the State of Israel in Palestine, he did so in consideration of domestic and international 9British, really) pressure. Ever since the survival of Israel has determined how the millions of educated and uneducated Jews in America participate in elections with their money and votes. Because of the Electoral College system, their vote can lock up an entire state’s electoral votes for one candidate alone and contribute to his victory. On the state level, Jews vote in very high proportions and they often determine who gets elected in a number of states, particularly California, New York, Massachusetts, Illinois and Florida. It is a fact -- and the world best learn to live with it -- that the US, regardless of its lip service to its Judeo-Christian heritage -- will not back down from supporting Israel for as long as the Jewish vote in US politics matters.

The face of America’s kaka-diplomacy is further blackened by the backlash that its “democracy project” is causing abroad. The “democracy” in Iran produced Might Mouse Ahmadinejad. Tabrik! The “democracy” in Arab-occupied Palestine produced the Hamas. Marhaba! The “democracy” in Lebanon resulted in Hezbollah’s participation in the government. Bravo! The “democracy” in Iraq produced the Shi’ite government, who condemns Israel attack on Lebanon than side with American nonchalance. Ahsant! Not to belabor the point -- same kind of love of “democracy” brought Adolf Hitler to power in Germany.

Democracy or elections (no matter how free) are not necessarily a harbinger of  “peace.” Of course, you would know that first hand. The democratic state of Israel is at war. The democratic US is at war, as is Britain and Australia and a dozen other countries with troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. The democratic country of Lebanon is at war. Yet, amazingly enough, the autocratic -- nay, despotic, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iran, North Korea and Syria -- to name a few -- are not at war!

The US should cut out the charade -- take a Shi’ite out to lunch. But please (a) no talking down, (b) no shoulder massage, (c) no chewing with an open mouth and (d) no talking with mouth full. You may eat with your hands!

Guive Mirfendereski is a professorial lecturer in international relations and law and is the principal artisan at Born in Tehran in 1952, he is a graduate of Georgetown University's College of Arts and Sciences (BA), Tufts University's Fletcher School (PhD, MALD, MA) and Boston College Law School (JD). He is the author of A Diplomatic History of the Caspian Sea >>> Features in

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