Other Nouveau Orientalists helpfully explain the quirks of this country with statements that made me raise my eyebrows (go figure, I must have been in denial): according to Haley Edwards of the Seattle Times, "In Syria, raising your eyebrows does not connote "surprise.
It means "no."
Apart from this anomaly, however, Edwards
sets the reader's mind to rest about Syrians' normalcy by describing that "in certain neighborhoods, you'll even see Syrian women wearing jeans, heeled boots and flipping the bright-blond highlights in their hair.
Wow. Now if that doesn't impress you, I don't know what will.
But since writers in mainstream media pride themselves on being balanced, this glorious account does not fail to acknowledge the fact that Islam and its oppressive laws are ever present; for example, she
explains (with what she
thinks is a lot of humour, surely unwarranted for the subject), that "the punishment for, say, stoning your flirtatious wife to death in the cul-de-sac outside your uncle's house on a sunny afternoon is pretty light."
Yes, indeed, the public stoning of women is a rather unfortunate practice in Syria around every street corner.
As if women didn't have enough real legal and social issues to deal with.
goes completely Orientalist with her
description of Syrian generosity: "You can't walk a block in Damascus
, or in Palmyra or Homs, for that matter, without a stranger (a fig merchant, a goat herder, a hair stylist) inviting you into his
home, thrusting an infant into your arms and offering you a spread of baba ghanouj and hummus and black tea so sweet it would make even the most ardent disciple of Southern hospitality flush with competition.