Ten Centuries from Normal

The mission of Karen Hughes to the Muslim Middle East seems pathetically misbegotten to me. The thinking underlying the mission appears to be that antipathy to the United States is based on a vast misunderstanding. Perhaps if only the president’s emissary grovels while wearing a pearl necklace just purchased from the noted Egyptian designer Azza Fahmi and displays a pendent medallion inscribed with the Arabic words for “love, sincerity, friendship,” then her hosts will feel something other than contempt, but it doesn’t seem likely. Or perhaps the contempt is simply in the eye of Washington Post reporter Glenn Kessler: “Campaign methods put to test in bid to boost U.S. image.”
The derision directed at this mission in the MSM simply doesn’t go deep enough. Kessler refers to the Muslim dislike of American policy at the root of Hughes’s difficulties; he doesn’t dwell much on Israel and Jews, but we are given to understand by one of Kessler’s Egyptian interlocutors — a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, no less — that if only the United States will play the role of an “honest broker,” America might then be loved. I think I understand what he means.
Kessler to the contrary notwithstanding, Jennifer Graham rightly focuses on the instransigent cultural problem Ms. Hughes is confronting on this mission: “Ten centuries from Normal.” Graham writes with a light touch and a sense of humor that turn what would otherwise be material for anger management therapy into the stuff of comedy, if one doesn’t think too hard about it.
PAUL adds: Suzanne Fields in the Washington Times also has a good piece on the Hughes mission. I’m with Scott on this. The only thing better than a mission to make Muslims like us would be the absence of such a mission.


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