Saturday, April 7, 2007

Beneath the Gorgeous Poster

Overly preaching about something often infers the absence of it. For example, the more a religious leader emphasizes “women rights,” the definite it is that respecting women is an absent quality amongst his followers. The more the press emphasizes that “women” are being allowed room to participate in a culture “jobs, events, etc,” the clearer it is that women are actually “not” part of that culture, but rather an imported entity.

The same goes for countries where human rights are the daily anthem. One can easily be fooled into thinking that a country is very just and fair by watching those values preached over and over again on the media. But stripping a gorgeous poster from the wall is a necessary step towards understanding “fully” why it is there.

All those thoughts occurred to me as I observed one day, while riding the bus, how my feelings towards Mexicans have changed dramatically after living in the States. A few years back, while living in Canada, I used to admire them to the point that I bought books to read about their culture and celebrations. What influenced my opinion during a year’s span?

Being the couch potato that I am, I have three sources of input: school, public transportation, and TV. In grad school professors are usually idealists, and truth is, all they have discussed so far is class material, or class related material. Public transportation includes some Mexican workers, some Mexican mothers, some really cute Mexican children. TV, on the other hand, has a LOT of preaching on the matter!

This great influence that TV had on my views of a certain ethnic group is scary. For one thing, if it was able to change my respect for an “alien” while I am a “foreigner” myself, how would it influence the average American’s views of “the other”? The issue is cruicial to me, because I belong to a controversial culture/religion myself.

So, the next time the media attempts to launch programs that do the Middle East or Muslim societies more “justice”, assessing their more "moderate" views, and "nice" individuals, is the average viewer to infer: how bloody and savage their vast majority is?

2 comments:

Joanna said...

Hello: I very much enjoy your blog. It shows an interesting insight on American culture as well as your own.

I think Americans in general don't have a problem with immigrants such as you, it's the matter of legality and how they often steal identities of innocent people. I know my sister's identity was stole by an illegal immigrant and how much of a hassle it is to regain that back. Also I think American's have a problem of lowering wages due to undocumented workers. But then, I wonder if they would work for less if they were legally here?

Anyway, thanks for this blog. I enjoy it very much.

-Joanna

Aysha said...

Joanna,
Thank you for introducing me to yours! I am growing increasingly curious lately about Japanese culture. Three things in particular evoked my curiousity: A Japanese lady that came all the way to Saudi to give a class on flower arrangement (on a Japan-Saudi event,) Sushi, and Memoirs of a Geisha. While technology & business would be the intriguing part to some people, for me it is the tradition, art and culture.

The part about your sister is surely a cause of great concern! FEAR to be exact. However, the whole issue of immigrants -no matter how hard I follow the news- is still unclear to me :(

Sometimes, the more views you hear on the media, the less clarity there is to situations not vice versa... And sometimes gov'ts need to keep things this way!