On Burqas, Hijabs & Charlie Sheen

Bloggers Note: Warning: This is a post in which I rant instead of making a thoughtful argument. Read at your own peril.

I need help here. I need someone to explain to me why the west freaks out over Burqas and Hijabs but thinks Charlie Sheen’s behavior is worth a spot on a major network. I need someone to explain to me because I’m having a cultural disconnect.  I need someone to guide me through the thinking process of a nation that turns its back on Libya and it’s enslavement through a cruel narcissistic dictator, but embraces the public viewing and story of the sick habits of a narcissistic misogynist called Charlie Sheen. I am longing for an explanation from Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe on how he justifies that we deserve democracy but Egypt does not based on their treatment of women. I want him to walk me through his logic of why a country so voyeuristic that it is glued to news stories of this pitiful excuse for a man deserves democracy and Egypt doesn’t. Is it any wonder that a good part of the Muslim world when interviewed sees us as morally bankrupt?

What is wrong with us and why do we put up with it? After all, no one is making any of us turn on the television. It’s not state-run TV that forces propaganda into our living rooms – or is it? No I know it’s not state-run, but what kind of idiotic propaganda about men, women, children and life is making its way into our homes and we, desensitized to valuable news that can inform and guide, begin thinking this is worth watching? What are we, what am I, letting into our homes that has a subtle but dangerous effect on how we live our lives and what we think about?

Let’s just suppose for a happy second that a news network besides PBS would set aside major time to do an informative, substantive, non-biased interview with Muslims, or more specifically Muslim women.  It strikes me that a major network show depicting women in Hijab or Burqa, interviewed, explaining their world view could actually help our nation and guide us collectively into more understanding of a part of the world that we at best misunderstand, and at worst, grossly stereotype with freely expressed misconceptions. Imagine networks that were willing to see behavior like that of Charlie Sheen’s and Lindsey Lohan’s as sick, and not news worthy.

Hundreds of people are dying in Libya, having courageously fought to bring about change. Hundreds of thousands want a society that is free of a cruel dictator and allows more freedom. And we sit around and enjoy our freedom by sitting on our couches, increasing our obesity and inactivity levels, thus raising our healthcare costs, and watch….Charlie Sheen?  This is freedom? Wow America! We really do need a wake-up call.

“If there’s a symbol of everything wrong with television news, it’s the focus on Charlie Sheen. Here we have America caught in historic budget debates that could lead to a shut-down of government, and the Middle East is in the midst of an equally historic democratic uprising — and TV “news” is giving a microphone to a fallen drug user with serious personal issues? It all makes me embarrassed for the news media.” Nicholas Kristof Facebook status update, 3.1.11

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Third Culture Kid - Grew up in Pakistan, lived and worked in Pakistan and Egypt as an adult. Moved to the United States and learning to live away from curry, Urdu, Arabic and the Pyramids.

16 thoughts on “On Burqas, Hijabs & Charlie Sheen

  1. Seriously America needs to grow up and read a book. After living in a Muslim country for 7 weeks and interacting deeply with the people it is so clear to me that the people have a richness and respect that we will never have. This country had deep identity and culture that will never be achieved in America because we have become a know-it-all land, still in its youth. I never want to come home because I don’t want to face the ignorance of the western world.

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    1. It’s so true and so hard to communicate those truths here in the west…BUT we need your passionate strong voice Stef! It’s people your age that are our future communicators. Thanks so much for reading and understanding my rage!

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  2. Thanks for allowing and affirming that I wasn’t totally off base with the rant and somehow in the midst of my rage I made sense to several of you. I am so appreciative that you read and cared enough to comment.

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  3. You preach it, girl! You are right on. It is just one more symptom of how sick our western society is and how much in need of redemption.
    Love you!

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  4. Marilyn I am giving you a standing ovation right now. You are so right, I agree with you absolutely.
    People ask me why we don’t have cable. I have so many telling informing me that it has become really cheap now and why don’t I get it. No one seems to get it, that it has never been about money but about who I wish to allow into my drawing room. There was a time when newsreaders, read the news without showing any kind of emotion but now they choose sides, they show us what they want us to see and hide from us what they do not wish us to know about. In every way they manipulate us and control the information we receive. But people are ok with that, they do not want to observe, collect information, analyse, draw their own educated conclusions, No the world is not just becoming physically lazy, but also mentally so lazy that no one wants to think anymore for themselves it is so easy just to be fed information.
    I remember the time when we watched one person die in a movie and it was traumatic. we felt sad about it for days even. Now we are so desensitized, nothing makes any impression. We can watch war, horror, murder, thrillers,
    bring all kinds of darkness into our homes in the name of entertainment. When gory bodies in our living room are entertaining us, seriously there is something very very wrong with our society.
    I am a Muslim woman, from India, I don’t wear a hijab or burqa, but I know that for a lot of women, the hijab is not just religious it is a cultural thing. They feel exposed without it. I think that it is a person’s fundamental right to be able to dress the way they wish to.
    I can understand showing unnecessary skin like wearing jeans way below the hips, like I have seen a lot of women do, could be offensive, but I don’t see how a woman’s desire not to show herself in public or to cover her hair can be offensive.
    Hatred is the result of fear and fear comes from lack of understanding. Understanding between people can only be fostered through good and open communication.

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    1. Great and insightful comment Pari and thanks for sharing a bit about your background. A few years ago after a shooting incident at a highschool in the United States I read a thoughtful article called “Trained to Kill” I don’t remember all of it but it was well-written and the premise was that we feed children tasty popcorn and their favorite drink and sit them in front of horrific violence. The result? We’ve mixed pleasure with horror and so though they want to react against it, the sensations of food they like mix it all up in their brains. It makes so much sense to me.
      It is interesting as well the story of people not getting why you don’t want cable and assuming it is a money thing instead of something far more serious. Thank you so much for this thoughtful response. May I borrow a paragraph for a future posting, of course citing you as the source?

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  5. You are talking about a country that just elected a circus troupe of toadys that will cut their citizens benefits while enriching the top 1%.
    Bread and circuses have always been used to divert the population from the looting of the treasury. This was true in Sumatra and Karnak and Rome and Istanbul and London and Tenochtitlan and Tikal and Moscow and Beijing and Washington and so on. We used to hate the commies, before them the “Japs” …it will be a different group soon enough.

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