I see how West meets the Arab World all the time.
Today was a good day to see how clearly the West and the Arab World clash in Jordan all the time. I spent the morning interviewing people for a story on the computer industry here. I was in these clean white offices with cubicles and white boards and mission statements on the walls. The woman wore business clothes on the sexy side of appropriate. The men had sculpted goatees and tiny, hipster eyeglasses. They talked about why they like Macs better than PCs and their favorite internet shopping sites. But one computer programmer told me how much he respects Osama bin Laden’dboth because he’s a good Muslim and because he’s a good role model of someone who sets goals for himself and then does them. Then I went to the headquarters of the Islamic Action Front. My guide said he wouldn’t go inside with me, because the Mukhabarat, Jordanian intelligence, would be photographing everyone there and he didn’t want to go to jail. (He later told me he counted at least four Mukhabarat guys sitting out front in big American cars). I met some other reporters there and one who spoke Arabic translated the signs in the building: a lot of things about how Jews are the real Nazis and the uprising must never end. The press conference was to protest the Jordanian government’s heavy-handed clampdown in Ma’dan a few weeks ago. Six old, angry men, half in suits, the other half in keffyieh headscarves, railed in Arabic against the government. It wasn’t as good as I thought it would be. The guy I spent time with yesterday, Laith Shbeylat, told me to come because major opposition dignitaries would call for the overthrow of the government. But Laith didn’t show up, because he was afraid of getting arrested and the men in scarves toned down their remarks a lot. I was embarrassed, because I talked CNN and NBC to cover the event, thinking it would actually be something big. There were a lot of reporters there, all from the Arab press. The guy from Hizbollah TV (those are the Lebanese terrorists) filmed me for a while as the reaction shot of a journalist. I did my best to look interested since I couldn’t understand a word the speaker was saying.
I don’t actually have anything else to write. It’s been a quiet day, since I was in the hotel finishing up my first Marketplace stories (scheduled to air Wednesday morning and Thursday afternoon.) I do want to say this: go and buy an iPod, especially if you’re traveling overseas. I have my entire record collection on this little handheld thing. I was walking around yesterday listening to the Music Man and it made me feel so good. I was starting to feel a little homesick and sick of not understanding what people are saying and tired and all that. And just hearing ’76 Trombones’ and then some Johnny Cash made me feel very happy. I love just knowing I can hear any song I want to.