Fallacy of the conspiracy theory [Archives:2003/676/Opinion]

October 13 2003

By Farouq Al-Samawi
[email protected]

I remember when I was a kid growing up in Ibb, how unfriendly we acted toward tourists. The prevailing thought at the time was that they were spies. Poor tourists! All they wanted to do is take pictures of unique sites and market places to show their people back home how exciting our country was. Some people would even go as far as blocking tourists' cameras with their hands or scarves. How savage and un-called for that must have seemed to tourists. Here is one more thing; I worked for the Yemen hunt in Marib a few years ago. When we entered the oil field we were searched to make sure we had no cameras so we do not take pictures to reveal to the “west” what we are building. Mind you, these projects are designed and implemented by westerners and their blueprints are in Houston, Texas, headquarters of the Yemen Hunt Oil Company. Even if that was not the case, if the west wanted to see what we are building all they have to do is take pictures from a satellite.
Anyway, then, I grew up and came to America. Before you know it, I am the tourist, now, snapping pictures in the middle of the congress of the United States and taking a tour of the White House and anything my heart desired. So I thought, “Huh this must be my first taste of what freedom means no searches no checkpoints between cities or states, taking pictures of anything”.
Back to the conspiracy theory: Having lived here for the past 17 years, I know, just like you said, there is no conspiracy against Arabs or Muslims by the west. As a matter of fact, in addition to several Mosques in the city, we are building one in my neighborhood right now. The city even sends police to control traffic during the Joma'ah prayer to facilitate the flow of traffic and guide us to parking spots.
It is just always easier to blame someone else for one's failure. On top of that, we really don't need anybody's help to stay behind. We do a good job of that on our own.
Here is an example of our own desire to stay poor and economically weak. I heard that last year, Kimberly-Clarck announced that they were closing their factory in Taiz due to repeated threats from some individuals. (I have no way of verifying this information of course.) Let me tell you something else. This factory was employing about 150 Yemenis. The average salary was about 70 or 80 thousand Rials. Way more than the national average. So, that is a loss of one and half million Rials every month for that locality. Also the products from that factory were far superior to others. The people threatening the factory with terrorism had an excuse that this was a Jewish owned company. Well, just so that we are clear on this, I don't really know who the original owners of this company are and I have no affiliation to the company whatsoever. I do know that it is a publicly traded company and anybody can buy stocks in the company and be “a part owner”.
One more point, the west is a capitalistic society and it is in their best interest to have developed markets world-wide. Because you can't sell cellular phones or DVD players or computers unless the people want and can afford them.
Like you said, we need to work hard and realize our dreams. Nobody is holding us down but ourselves and some of our own people.