Different peoples come from different back grounds and therefore posses’ different characteristics and have different traditions and practices. Some people actually study different traditions, cultures and practices. These people are known as anthropologists. In some instances, a community might have different beliefs about another community just by looking and analyzing their ways and practices. Unfortunately, in some cases, generalizations are made about different peoples which might not necessarily be true.
The beliefs do not necessarily represent the practices of the whole group. These generalizations are assumed to be true because they are repeated over and over again. They are more or less the same as conventional wisdom; only difference is that the latter does not mainly refer to people’s traditions and practices. These generalizations that have developed into beliefs are referred to as stereo types (Alter, 1995). This paper will address this issue using examples of situations today.
We will look at three beliefs that Americans have of people from Saudi Arabia and of other Arabs in general and address whether they are valid or it is just another case of stereo types. The beliefs Since the late 80’s and early 90’s many people in America have developed the notion that Arabs or anyone of Arabian decent is a terrorist. Thanks to the media, Arabs are today viewed as terrorists and murderers (Shaheen, 1984). At this point, it is important to note that there are two kinds of terrorists being referred to in books and journals.
The old age terrorists who were mainly agitating for political liberation, a good example is Nelson Mandela former president of South Africa, and the new age terrorists whose fight is mainly a religious war, an example is Osama bin laden. The picture painted of Arabs in America, is that of the new age terrorists. This began as early as the late 80’s. Following the 1995 bombing of Oklahoma, the media was quick to insinuate that it was an act of terrorism. This was actually true. The sad bit however, was that it was being depicted that it was the Arabs who had actually committed this crime.
As expected, this was not taken lightly by the Arab community and it sparked mass demonstrations across the world. Recent acts of terror have often been linked to Arabs. Although some of them were actually true, it does not necessarily mean that all people of Arabian decent are terrorists and it also does not warrant a search on every person of Arabian decent within a 1 kilometer radius. Another belief that the Americans have of the Arabs and mainly people from Saudi Arabia is that they are rich due to oil and have many slaves. The advent of this stereo type is not clear and not many are able to trace its origin.
However, the fact is that many Arabs are Muslims (the word ‘many’ has been used deliberately to again point out the fact that not all Arabs are Muslims), Islam does not condone the enslaving of one and it is against all forms of slavery (Bazzi, 1995). Slavery and slave trade was abolished in the Arabian world long before it was abolished in the western world. The depiction of Arabs therefore being slave owners is therefore false and is biased. Majority of the oil producing countries are non-Arab. A good example is Iran. People from Iran are not Arabs, they are actually Persians.
Many people have grown up to belief that many Arabs control the oil markets across the world. Unfortunately, this is not true. The last and final belief is that Arabs are violent people and difficult to work with. It is believed that only force and coercion can make an Arab agree to a deal. This is portrayed in the movies, programmes and even cartoons. The fact that it is actually being shown from as early as the cartoon age, clearly indicates that the mentality that cultivated in the young ones is that of Arabs being bad and difficult people to work with.
What is actually true is that Arabs tend to be strict on matters pertaining to religion. They are however, very open minded and open to different ideas and development. This can be witnessed in the development taking place in the Arabian world. Countries in the Arabs are part of the fastest growing economies in the world. Conclusion In conclusion, I would like to bring out the relevance of cultural understanding with regards to the information given above.
Having looked at the three stereo types mentioned above, one is able to tell that the relationship between the Arabs and the Americans is sour. If they would just be able to understand each other and acquire authentic information about the other community, probably they would have been of more construction to the world than can be imagined. It is therefore important that people analyze and research about other communities before they can come to a conclusion and generalize their belief about a certain community (Alter, 1995).