Thursday, February 23, 2006

In defense of the Camel Jockey

I am becoming fed up with these prissy conservatives who want to disavow or distance themselves from Ann Coulter for using the word “Rag Head” to describe our Arab/Muslim enemies. It, along with the term “Camel Jockey” is supposed to be a racist epithet and therefore unworthy of civilized conversation.

I disagree because neither “Rag Head” nor “Camel Jockey” is a truly racist. They are cultural rather than racial terms. “Rag Head” refers to an item of clothing customarily worn by some Arab men as protection from the sun. The appearance is distinctive and so became identified with Arabs in general much like the Scottish kilt or the Japanese kimono. Calling an Arab “Rag Head” is no more racist than calling an Englishman “Limey”; a term which refers to the practice of the British Navy of issuing limes to sailors to prevent scurvy. The emotional content of the term may be positive, negative or neutral depending on the attitude of the person using it.

“Camel Jockey” is a bit different. It refers to the fact that many Arabs once existed as nomads using the camel for transportation. This is a primitive way of life which the civilized world has long passed by. To call Arabs “Camel Jockeys” is to imply that their culture is stuck in the 8th or 9th century; that they are culturally stunted or retarded. This is without a doubt an insult. However is it a racial insult? I don’t think so. After all the United Arab Emirates is nothing more than a confederation of TRIBES which formed a government. The president of the UAE is just the chief of the most powerful tribe. The members of the Saudi royal family are just the descendants of the head of the Arab tribe that got the upper hand back in the Nineteenth Century. Allah and the crescent moon are the name and symbol of the god of Mohammad’s Qurush tribe in ancient Mecca. The cultures of most Arab nations are retrograde. The reason for that is found primarily in the Islamic religion. By denying any separation between Mosque and State, between the sacred and secular, and attempting to control every aspect of the believer’s life Islam cannot help but to entrap any culture which embraces it in a 9th century mindset like a fly in amber.

Does this mean that there are no truly racial epithets that are applied to Arab peoples? No, the term “Sand Nigger” is nothing but racial and people who use it are being bigoted.

Throughout history men who go to war are called upon to do some damn distasteful things. A part of the process which allows someone to do those things and retain his sanity is the dehumanization of the enemy. This applies not just to the men in the trenches, but to the society which sends it sons, husbands, brothers and fathers off to place their frail bodies between war’s desolation and their beloved homelands.

In the closing days of WWII every Japanese male who could carry a gun (I don’t mean every Japanese male who was old enough to join the army, I mean every Japanese male who was big enough to carry the weight of a rifle) was in uniform getting ready to face the coming invasion of the Home Islands. The cities of Japan were peopled by the old, the sick and lame, women, children and a few men whose skills made them essential to war production.

Over these cities our B-29 bombers flew dropping napalm on the wood and paper houses of the civilian population. In order to preserve their humanity our air crews needed to see those whom they were incinerating not as people like their own parents, wives and children but as “Filthy Japs”.

The crews of our destroyers in the Atlantic needed to see the Germans on the U-Boats they were depth charging not as fellow humans trapped in a steel pipe hundreds of feet beneath the waves crouching in sheer terror as the explosions came closer and closer until the one which ripped their hull open and sent them to their deaths. Not as men clutching pictures of beloved wives and children while they desperately begged God for another day of life. They needed to see the U-Boat crews as filthy murdering Krauts.

I say again, this is a necessary psychological adaptation to help us cope with the essential ugliness of warfare. We did not invent this. I do not know what the Greeks called the Persians or the Romans called the Parthians, but I doubt that it was polite.