-“Let’s have the American tell us about what’s going on in America!”
-“Ok, What do you want to know?”
-“Maybe we can start with the war in Iraq? Your president started it, and then you reelected him. Now, according to the TV, most of you don’t like the war. Why?”
-“Well, America is a big place, with a lot of different opinions. I worked on that last election, and in my opinion American’s are easily scared by things that they have had little exposure to, or don’t know much about. That is part of the reason I am here, so Americans can learn about people who are different than them. By playing to that fear, our politicians seem to get away with a lot of unpopular things.”
-“Ok, well what do you think about the build up of NATO forces in Afghanistan?”
-“What do you think about it?”
-“I’m against war. And I am afraid. I am afraid that America will come and bomb our Mahala (Roma neighborhood). I don’t want Americans to kill me and my family because I am a Muslim.”
This was a recent conversation that I had with a young man that lives in my colleague’s village. I traveled to village last month to observe the end to a very special Muslim Holiday. I was welcomed with open arms to pray in their Mosque with all the village men, and everyone wanted to stress to me that their God is practically the same as the God that my country worships. We just worship differently. How do I tell this man that his Mahala is under no threat from our government, when to him, the people that we bomb are exactly the same as him? This young man that I spoke with had some sort of developmental disability that led him to be taken out of school at grade 2. He only spoke Turkish and Romany, so I spoke with him through a translator. I must admit that when he first said “Let’s have the American tell us about what’s going on in America!” I assumed that he was going to ask maybe about if I was friends with 50 cent or Justin Timberlake…which I have been asked about in the past. His depth of understanding in international politics was incredible. And scary. He displayed a perception that many people have. And I think that you should know about it.