P.J. O’Rourke in Cairo

P. J. O’Rourke visits Cairo — during Ramadan (made the same mistake myself). Highlights include driving:

I saw a driving school. What could the instruction be like? No, no, Anwar, faster through the stop sign, and make your left from the far-right lane. Surely John Kifner, Chris Matthews, and NBC News are kidding when they use Arab street as a metaphor for anything in the Middle East. Or, considering the history of the Middle East, maybe they aren’t.

And then plenty of politics:

I had lunch with an Egyptian who had been born in the United States. When he was in high school, in suburban Chicago, he became serious about religion and observed Ramadan with rigor. Then he went to Egypt to work as a journalist, and now, in Ramadan, he was having lunch. My sister is a Christian fundamentalist, I said. She wouldn’t crash a plane into the World Trade Center, but she might land pretty hard on evolution. And then we’d all have to remain amoebas. A lot of people don’t make that connection, the Egyptian journalist from Chicago said.

But O’Rourke then goes on to quote The Middle East Media and Research Institute. Do a search on The Guardian‘s site for more info on those guys (upshot: very loose cherry-picked “translations”, with an emphasis on misrepresenting the importance of the speaker — so, for example, “random lunatic with an axe to grind against Israel” becomes “government spokesman”, that kind of thing).

Apart from that, overall, an interesting article.

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