The U.S. press are suckers for foreigners that can say something remotely familiar about American culture. In this case, a flabby interview by the New York Times with Morsi on the occasion of his upcoming trip to New York, offers the following on his insights into America:
He was also eager to reminisce about his taste of American culture as a graduate student at the University of Southern California. “Go, Trojans!” he said, and he remembered learning about the world from Barbara Walters in the morning and Walter Cronkite at night. “And that’s the way it is!” Mr. Morsi said with a smile.
But he also displayed some ambivalence. He effused about his admiration for American work habits, punctuality and time management. But when an interpreter said that Mr. Morsi had “learned a lot” in the United States, he quickly interjected a qualifier in English: “Scientifically!”
He was troubled by the gangs and street of violence of Los Angeles, he said, and dismayed by the West’s looser sexual mores, mentioning couples living together out of wedlock and what he called “naked restaurants,” like Hooters.
I don’t admire that,” he said. “But that is the society. They are living their way.”
Morsi's support for a USC team shamed by the NCAA for its serial cheating shows his appreciation of college football is considerably less refined, and less principled, than it is of domestic football in Egypt. The President of Egypt learning about the world through Barbara Walters also is unsettling. But most troubling is his lack of esteem for Hooters, that beacon of American culture heavily frequented by every man, woman and child in the United States.
Evidently, more must be done to reach out to Mr. Morsi to boost his limited regard for the good old U.S. of A. Hopefully (even if not likely), his New York encounters will be occasion for more than the stock meetings with the clueless U.S. foreign policy establishment, accommodating Jews and an interview with Charlie Rose.
A stopover to the memorial for the September 11 victims might help enlighten him a bit, that is if he can look past the conspiracy theories to which he apparently subscribes. Visiting an area Coptic church and attending mass would do far more to reassuring Christians -- both in America and in Egypt -- than any staged meeting with token church representatives. A walk through the less fortunate sections of Manhattan might be instructive to seeing how America treats such areas as compared to how Egypt treats the vast majority of its population -- who can only dream of having what is offered to residents of Spanish Harlem. The Yankees will be out of town and the Mets are awful, but Citi Field is still pretty nice to catch some last season action.
And Hooters National Chicken Wing Day is coming up again soon. Maybe he could be invited for a tasting.
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