There's a big difference between cultural understanding and cultural stupidity (which is now labeled cultural sensitivity).
One of the hardest things for me, as a Western woman, to learn when dealing with Middle Eastern folks is that the younger folks have to approach the older folks, rather than wait to be acknowledged, as things are done here.
You would think that Obama, being raised in Indonesia, would have an almost instinctive understanding of the subtle ways that cultures differ regarding honor and respect towards others. For example, in Japan, the head honcho never EVER apologizes--it's always an underling who can afford to 'lose face' (the Japanese had the sense of honor to edit pictures of Obama bowing to his toes to their leader so as not to embarrass him). In the Middle East, there is a quick word regarding a problem and then it is as if it never was. But if you make a big deal about something by constantly apologizing and bringing it up, then it's going to become a bigger deal on the other side also--you feed the fire.
When a person is in a position of power, that person NEVER bows to another either by word or by deed. And you never compound a now-perceived weakness or the acknowledgement of an error by constantly apologizing, as the administration has done.
So first, the head honcho apologizes, then the next head honcho (Secretary of Defense) apologizes, then you send out myriad underlings to apologize to people not even remotely associated with the incident and then act surprised when the situation grows out of control and disingenuously say that 'it's not my fault.'.
Now I'm just a simple girl in flyover country and I know this stuff. It's frightening that those that should either don't or are deliberately ignoring social and cultural norms and in the process are getting our people killed.
2 years ago