SARA ALTUWAIJRI WRITES – As both an American and Saudi Citizen, I have experienced first-hand how Americans view the outside world. The Western media tends to focus on the negative side when talking about Asia and the Middle East while overlooking positive aspects. For example, there is a common belief that Muslims are inherently violent and dangerous. Looking at the book “Has The West Lost It?” by Kishore Mahbubani, a Singaporean academic and former diplomat, he states, “If this were true, I should live each day in fear. Singapore is a small, predominantly Chinese state surrounded by two large, mostly Muslim states: Malaysia and Indonesia… The chances of Singapore going to war with either state is practically zero today.” This is because these countries learned that going to war is not the answer, and they would rather work together, focusing on economic growth.
While many other countries have progressed, the western media still often portrays the Asian continent unfavorably and not factually. For example, I hear comments about Middle Easterners living as nomads. But the Middle East is far more than a desert, and most people live in modern urban areas.
Additionally, there are many misconceptions about communist countries. There is this idea that the Chinese are entirely oppressed and unable to live their lives. As Kishore puts it, “The inability to see the explosion of new personal freedoms that the Chinese people are enjoying means that the West is also unable to see that Chinese civilization is beginning to experience the most glorious period ever in its 3,000-year history.” So just because China functions differently does not mean that it is backward and completely repressive. China, a rising country with a large economy, is always portrayed negatively.
An additional problem is that many believe the media without doing their own research. These stereotypes are not accurate. The U.S must try harder to understand other countries and how they work. Let’s be more open-minded and do a better job of co-existing.