Post 9: Us versus Them

SYRIA-CONFLICT

1. What is your assessment of the Foreign Affairs The Dispossessed Does the comic do justice to the refugee situation? Is it a good analysis of the crisis? Does Islam play a role?

Yes, I think the comic featured in the Foreign Affairs The Dispossessed article illustrates the refugee situation. I think many refugees get trapped in the idea that once they flee and arrive somewhere new, life will be miraculously better. The journey many of the refugees endure, as illustrated by the comic is extremely hard, mentally, emotionally and physically. Syrians are continually taken advantage of as illustrated by the comic. The characters struggle throughout the narrative, between finding a hotel that won’t overcharge, to ferry delays to countless other troubles they endure. An abundance of emotions seemed to be involved in the story which seems like an accurate portrayal of the refugee situation. One minute the characters are happy that the boat got fixed, then the next they’re scrambling to collect enough money to reach the next step of their journey and it seems to continually be a battle back and forth. While refugees decide to leave their current situation, it’s not like they know what the other side holds.

I saw Islam play a role throughout the comic as well. There were a few stereotypes about Muslim culture that were portrayed, for example, the role of women versus men. Toward the beginning of the comic there was a scene where the man fixed the boat taking the group across the sea and used a phone to reach help. The phone was provided by a woman and she seemed to be beaming that “the hero” used her resource in order to save the boat, but received no recognition for actually providing it. The woman seem to be portrayed in a way that makes them appear to be almost fawning over the men throughout the story. To me, this seemed like the idea in Muslim culture that women are less valued than men and need them to give them permission everything, even just small parts of life.

self-vs-other

2. Based on the article, Islam and the West: Narratives of Conflict and Conflict Transformation, discuss the story of intercultural confrontation and intercultural compatibility and how they affect conflict transformation.

In the article, Islam and the West: Narratives of Conflict and Conflict Transformation, Nathan C. Funk and Abdul Aziz Said discuss and compare the Western world and the Middle East. They discuss how the narratives of the two worlds are often portrayed in a polarizing way and almost pitted against each other. The authors don’t think that this polarizing narrative is the right way to go about the discussion on the Western world and the Muslim Middle Eastern cultures. Instead, they suggest a type of narrative where similarities between the two cultures are highlighted in order to stimulate a breakthrough of many of the ideals that have been built that suggest that the two cultures are so vastly opposite.

Funk and Said go on to discuss how neither culture is completely “innocent” in the idea that one culture is the target of the polarization, but rather that both cultures utilize a “self vs. other” ideology with contrasting differences. Both cultures have been found to exaggerate the extreme parts of the other’s culture. For example, in the United States, people think that Islam is directly connected to terrorism and make judgments on people that are a part of the Muslim community unjustly. At the same time, Western culture is often seen by Muslims as a much morally loose society that often portrayed in TV and movies.

I think that the ability to start to see similarities between the two cultures will lead to a progressive dialogue that doesn’t pit one culture against the other. Once the culture are seen less as polar opposites and more for shared values like education and citizen’s well-being, this “self vs. other” ideology will begin to break down.

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