In my hotel room one night, I saw a short documentary about the Palestinians on the Al-Jazeera news network. Coming from a fiercely pro-Israel country, I have my own opinions about this issue. But the Islamic “spin” made it possible for me to grasp the other side's argument; even without understanding the language, the images spoke powerfully. They showed a towering, American-funded wall being built in the Palestinian territories, concrete block by concrete block...literally blacking out the sunshine from the Palestinians and making them look and feel like corralled animals. It occurred to me that anyone watching this with empathy for Palestinians (i.e., 1.3 billion people in the Muslim world) would be charged with angry emotions against the people paying for this wall (you and me). Traveling to this faraway land, whose propaganda forced me to see another perspective, helped me to think in a more sophisticated way about how America is perceived in the Muslim world.
Many things I experienced in Iran fit the negative image that I'd seen back home. But the more I traveled there, the more apparent it became that the standard, media-created image of Iran in the USA was not the whole story. I simply couldn't reconcile the fear-mongering and hate-filled billboards with the huge smiles and genuine hospitality we received on the ground.
About This Entry
You are reading "Living in a Theocracy", an entry posted on 10 March 2010 by Rick Steves.