Human Beings Are Good at Disguising Reality

Burj Khalifa building 1

I haven’t done one of these posts in a while, but it’s worth pointing out that one feature of American political and media culture is that a guy like Martin Peretz can be editor in chief of a magazine like The New Republic and publish a lot of racist nonsense in its digital pages and the whole thing is treated as perhaps vaguely embarrassing but certainly not a major problem. Ergo this kind of odd gloating over economic problems in Dubai:

Well, just about Thanksgiving time in 2009 the emirates (of which is Dubai is only one) found themselves no longer so rich. In fact, they found themselves in terrible troubles. Actually, it happened a bit earlier. But Arabs are deft at disguising reality. But, in the end, their hotels were going empty, their condominiums couldn’t be financed, they were soon deporting their south Asian workers. I don’t know what happened to their 7-star underwater hotel. Or whether they are still refrigerating their beaches. I suppose Bill Clinton also no longer draws down a quarter of a million bucks for speeches…but that may be because Hillary’s job forbids even the poor husband such financial activity. What a sacrifice.

Now of course if you want to be literal about it, Arabs are deft at disguising reality just like Europeans and Americans and Chinese people. This is a human trait. And this is precisely one of the main tropes of anti-Arab discourse in the United States, a tendency to pluck out basic human character flaws and then attribute their manifestation in Arab people as an expression of their Arabness. In reality the Dubai bubble was of a piece with similar events in Ireland, the Baltic states, and to an extent the United States.