More than a few times, I've caught myself stereotyping folks from the Middle East. It's sure easy to do. Their remote lands and out-dated culture seem to beg for a verbal tongue lashing.
But every once in a while, I stumble upon a bit of history that puts me in my place.
This little nugget is from a book I'm reading, called Only Yesterday (by Frederick Lewis Allen).
The following quotes have to do with how powerful Americans viewed women's rights and emerging styles in the early 1920s:
"The low-cut gowns, the rolled hose and short skirts are born of the Devil and his angels, and are carrying the present and future generations to chaos and destruction."
- President Murphy, University of Florida
"Legislators in several states introduced bills to reform feminine dress once and for all. The New York American reported in 1921 that a bill was pending in Utah providing fine and imprisonment for those who wore on the streets 'skirts higher than three inches above the ankle.'
A bill was laid before the Virginia legislature which would forbid any woman from wearing shirtwaists or evening gowns which displayed "more than three inches of her throat."
Pretty crazy, huh? Though it was quite normal for the day - these yellowed opinions are well out-of-whack with 2007's American society.
And this is all related to the trivial subject of fashion - not to speak of other 'barbarities' of the early 20th century.
My point? We should keep an open mind about other cultures. In the case of the Middle East... some are in the grip of religious zealotry and seem to be 40 years behind the times. (Kind of like Ohio on steroids.) What we see in Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran today may bear no resemblance to their future state.
In the meantime, we have to deal with the threat of terrorism - but must keep in mind, this tactic is a cultural fringe element that hardly represents the layman - nor the collective purpose of any one nation.