The Middle East


            Ahh…the Middle East  What glories come to mind?  A magical land of lush forests, babbling brooks and mystical valleys.  A blissful land home to giggling cherubs and jovial seniors.  A technologically savvy land that spawns the latest innovations and inspires generation after generation of entrepreneurs to design and mass produce the gadgets that fill our pockets and line our shelves.  A tolerant land where homosexuals walk hand in hand through city squares, the young frolic and gyrate to the freshest hip hop tunes and women don the latest Parisian fashions on their way to their 87th floor offices overlooking a bustling metropolis below.  

            Ahh yes, the Middle East– the once cradle of civilization and the present beacon of hope, liberty and peace that all nations hold as the pinnacle of humanity.

            But wait.  Does that vision not exactly jibe with your notions of the Middle East  Does it possibly contradict the headlines you’ve read, the actors you’ve seen and the politicians you’ve followed?

            So I guess your Middle East is instead a land of oil, of deserts, of gluttonous sultans living in golden palaces, of turbaned shepherds pulling camels, of ticked-off bearded men calling for the death of all Americans, of women hidden behind black hoods, of terrorists calling for the destruction of Israel, of rogue nations vying for membership in the Axis of Evil, of millions of homogenous Muslims all marching to the same Quranic beat, hating the West for all of its splendor, jealous of the West for just being so darn much better at everything?    

            Be honest, is this your Middle East  A sad, depressed, backward land of angry Muslims who happen to live on top of the greatest surplus of petrol gold on the planet? 

            And you’re actually right…about as right as you’d be if you said America is the land of scantily clad bikini’d hotties jiggling around on cars as they try to sell you a can of Coors Light.  As right as you’d also be if you said America is the land of religious fanatics who blow up abortion clinics, and all Americans believe that Jonah hung out for three days in a whale and that humans only first appeared back in 4004 BC when Adam and Eve developed an apple craving.

            If you travel throughout the Middle East  For decades, there was an accepted Middle East narrative that passed for truth.

            But then there was the Arab Spring and everyone had to reassess the Middle East.  How in less than six months did the nations of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya throw off the shackles of autocracy when it was just assumed that the bulk of...