At first, I was so damn angry after the experience you are about to read that I didn't trust myself to write something coherent. Then, I calmed down and figured that it was an anomaly. I wasn't going to write about this experience, but, with the recent comments coming out of the Organization of the Islamic Conference in Malaysia, I thought that I might be able to shed some light on what we are up against in the world...
One of my friends is a guy I met in grad school a few years ago. He's a lawyer that practices IP law and was pursuing a MS in Computer Science to further his knowledge of programming. He is brilliant. Went to U of Chicago undergrad, then Northwestern University Law. He works for one of the biggest law firms in the world. He is from Pakistan. His name is Masood.
A few months ago, Masood invited me to his brother's birthday party. Since I love Middle Eastern food and knew his family pretty well, I went. After the party, we went to a bar on the city's northwest side where a lot of Pakistanis hang out (and, yes, they drank alcohol).
We played cards for awhile and then moved back to the bar. The course of our conversation eventually turned from sports and business to politics and religion - and it went badly. Almost immediately, the Israelis were blamed for everything from SARS to the price of bread.
Masood's younger brother just came right out with what everyone of them was alluding to...: "The f-cking Jews controll everything."
Me: "Come on. Do they control your family's restaurant? Do they control your alderman? Mayor Daley?"
Masood's older brother: "They want nothing to do but destroy us. My restaurant does well inspite of their attempts with the Mayor and lobbying the Congress to discriminate against Muslims. You Christians just never see it."
Masood, surprising the hell out of me, was nodding his head in agreement: "Just like 9-11."
Masood: "Just like 9-11 where the Mossad flew planes into buildings."
Me: "You can't really mean that, Masood. Really?"
Masood's older brother spoke again, pointing at me: "You are just too stupid to see. Americans are puppets of the Jews."
Me, ignoring Masood's idiot brother: "That's really ridiculous. You are telling me that Al Qaeda is controlled by the Mossad?"
Masood looked me right in the eye: "No. Al Qaeda didn't bomb the buildings. The Mossad did."
I thought, Hey, Asshole, Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the murder of all those innocent people!
By then, all thirty patrons of the club were looking at us. And I wasn't getting very warm smiles at this point. I thought about my chances of making it out of there if I really said what I was thinking.
I believe Masood knew what I was pondering because he didn't let me think too long: "Maybe you should go, Matt."
Me: "Yep. I'll see you."
I left without a problem. No one followed me out, and I don't know what they said after I left. I never talked to Masood after that.
What I can tell you is that experience scared the hell out of me. How the hell can a guy be so well-educated and smart and successful in America and be so close-minded at the same time?
How the hell can we ever convince people like Masood that "the Jews" aren't the problem - that his blindness is the problem? And if we can't convince the likes of him, how can we reach countless millions that don't have Masood's liberal education, facility with English, or access to our mediums?
Simple answer: I don't think we can penetrate that kind of cultural and religious brainwashing.
Which is why, when I saw this article on the Malaysian Prime Minister's hateful words, I wasn't shocked. Not in the slightest.
It really is us against them. Us and the Israelis and a few others against 1.6 billion zealots.
Get used to the idea.
Update - 10.20.03 2:39 PM CST: James Taranto's Best of the Web has a few pieces related to this topic. Slide down to the title 'He is such a Jew' and just read the first few paragraphs.
Update - 10.30.03 8:00 AM CST: The discussion continues via a commenter's (Mahim) blog and my latest post on the subject.