Monday, July 7, 2008

A generation of schlubs?

Over the long weekend, I was reading Kenneth Pollack's new book about the Middle East, A Path out of the Desert (which I'm not quite finished with yet -- and will likely post about again later in the week).

As is usually the case with Pollack's books, there is much that is fascinating, much that is indisputable, and much to disagree with. But I'm not concerned with the politics just yet. There was this passage that jumped out at me which I'd like to throw out there for my fellow schlubs:

"'Studies indicate that the most widespread style of child rearing in Arab families is the authoritarian mode accompanied by the overprotective,' according to the 2003 Arab Human Development Report. 'This reduces children's independence, self-confidence and social efficiency, and fosters passive attitudes and hesitant decision making skills...'"

Whoa! This never occurred to me before, but might the big problem with the Arab world be that they've become a generation of schlubs?

There was another passage, too, that's worth citing (if only for readers of FSTS): 

"Indeed, a great many government offices in the Arab world and Iran are occupied by people with the title of 'engineer' whom you would not want to build a bridge for you."

Sounds pretty schlubby to me.

When I brought this up to Grosspere and Grossmere, they suggested that the shoe bomber, Richard Reid, might be a schlub.

I'm not 100 percent sure I agree with them about that one. I've always believed that to be a schlub, you have to be a benign personality. (Or at least not be a terrorist.) But you have to admit: The guy might not have been a schlub, but he was certainly hapless. The idea of blowing up a plane using a bomb you're carrying around in your shoe? Not being able to light the match that will ignite your bomb? Well, I'm not trying to diminish the seriousness of the guy's crimes but he has some eerily schlubby traits.