Good lord, he's still carrying on about this
Daniel Peterson wrote:Doing so sent one small sector of the Internet into paroxysms of indignation. It demonstrated me to be arrogant, racist, spoiled, culturally insensitive, and — no less — a devotee of the Alt-Right. (I guess my long record of opposition to Donald Trump, apparently feigned, hasn’t been enough to conceal my sordid inner core.) The reference to “Abu Fu’ad slinging slop” supposedly illustrated our pampered and narrow-minded Western contempt for — ugh! — foreign food. (Actually, the hotel, trying to appeal to its Western clientele — it was the Vienna Hotel, after all, not the Funduq al-Filistiniyin, or something like that — never served Arab or Middle Eastern food, which we liked and which we enjoyed when we could get it. Instead, it kept us going with an attempt at something like a Western dormitory menu. We liked kindly old Abu Fu’ad, though. He was a sweet elderly man then, and I’m sure that he’s long since gone on to his reward.)
Anyway, I found the reaction of these critics to the little ditty above absolutely bizarre. But I’ve also reflected on it a bit since.
Please note that the doggerel verse is about the now-long-defunct Vienna Hotel. It doesn’t target the Arabs. It doesn’t malign Palestinians. It says nothing about Arab civilization or culture (which I had already been studying by 1978 and which I have continued to study, and to research, and to publish and teach about ever since).
But those who at least affected outrage about that song saw it, or claimed to see it, as an expression of contempt for Arabs and Arab culture.
Who was it, however, who, reading about an old, inexpensive, and rundown hotel with bad plumbing, a broken elevator, and mediocre food, immediately saw those things as emblematic of Arab culture, as typical of Arabs?
Well, hold on a second. Here he is in his original post:
DCP wrote:My first stay in the Middle East was six months with a BYU study abroad group in Israel. For roughly the first half of that 1978 program — just eleven years after Israel had seized control of East Jerusalem (and the West Bank and the Sinai and the Golan Heights) during the Six-Day War of 1967 — we were housed (and had our classes) in the Vienna Hotel, a Palestinian establishment in an Arab neighborhood called Shaykh Jarrah. (The building has long since been demolished.)
Whether or not the "song" all by itself "malign(s) Palestinians" is debatable (it pretty clearly does, in my view), but here's Dr. Peterson himself, pointing out to everyone that "the Vienna Hotel, [was] a Palestinian establishment in an Arab neighborhood." That's plain as day: he wanted all his readers to understand that the Vienna Hotel was "a Palestinian establishment in an Arab neighborhood."
Look: I think most people just shrugged at this as yet another dumb blog entry, and yet another racially-insensitive blunder on the part of the "Sic et Non" crew. Those people who *have* taken issue with it see this basically as yet another case of some snot-nosed twerp of a white, spoiled American kid being disrespectful towards a non-American culture. DCP certainly isn't alone in that regard. How many times have LDS missionaries gotten into trouble for fooling around out in the mission field, or saying offensive things about other cultures? There was one story from a while back, IIRC, about a pair of missionaries that had actually desecrated an old Catholic artifact: there was a photo of the two of them standing next to the remnants of this object, with smirks on their faces. But nobody, as far as I can see, is accusing DCP the grown-up of being culturally insensitive, "racist," or anything of that nature. The lone blunder was in doing the blog post in the first place, and failing to see the reasons why people might take issue with it.
In any case, DCP seems really interested in dwelling on this old trip to Israel. In fact, he is even claiming, in another context, to be upset / "creeped out" over it, despite the fact that he himself has apparently been discussing this same trip, and characterizes his own antics as "hijinks":
DCP wrote: tracking down obscure references on somebody's obscure blog to recollections of four-decade-old student hijinks
Okay. Look, I said that I wouldn't bring this up if he didn't (shall I bump the Amazon thread while we're at it? And the one(s) about compensation for Mopologetics? A fresh link to the tax form, maybe?). So much for that!
In any case, what he's referring to is an old blog
--the link to which was sent to me by an "informant." This was many years ago. In any case, the blog in question (now defunct, I guess) was authored by a Sister Nielson. Here are some of the choicest tidbits:
Sister Nielson's Blog wrote:Dan Peterson, Mark Mattox and Lisette Penn succeeded in water-bombing a cat today from the third story.
Evidently the Arab and Israeli tomcats have their Middle East conflict in our yard every night.
This was quite an eventful day for the group. The morning started out with a field trip to the Golan Heights and some other choice spots. In spite of the cloudy, gloomy-looking skies, Pres. Galbraith decided we should chance it. So everyone loaded onto the buses, keeping their fingers crossed. One of the buses was quite a novelty to the group ──it looked rather like a converted milk wagon.
Well, off we started, still looking suspiciously at the sky, while Dan Peterson kept us all entertained with bathroom jokes.
And this problematic bit:
Our next ham was the ever famous Rabbi Dan Peterson, the authority on bathroom facilities and Kosher laws. We had many questions to ask him. “Yes, we are marketing prayer shawls for swimming.” “Yes, orange falafels are Kosher.” “Yes, I’m upset that there aren’t bathroom facilities on the bus, but an idea has not been conceived yet to install some.” The shocker of the day was Jennifer Graves! Not only did she publicly sit on a boy’s lap but Rabbi Peterson performed a Jewish wedding ceremony for her right on the bus.
Uh huh. And how would they like it if the Israelis performed aspects of the LDS temple ceremony? Like I said: a disrespectful, culturally insensitive little twerp and a punk.
But at least, like he says in his latest post, he likes Middle Eastern food:
Sis. Nielson's Blog wrote:Before hitting the beach, we “porked” out and hit every falafel place in Tel Aviv. Amongst the glutters were Dan Peterson, who knowingly stuffed his face with two and one half falafels and a glass of falafel juice. Then some of our independent coeds asked Bro. Tvedtnes if he had a falafel and a falafel casa. Unhesitatingly he (Bro. Tvedtnes) gave a brief, one-half hour definition of a falafel: “a bean mixture, deep-fried in grease.” Did you catch that, Dallin, Dixon, and Dan Peterson?
LOL! Hey, I like falafel, too, Dr. Peterson: all the different varieties, including the Sudanese kind that's seasoned with dill.
"[I]f, while hoping that everybody else will be honest and so forth, I can personally prosper through unethical and immoral acts without being detected and without risk, why should I not?." --Daniel Peterson, 6/4/14