Not All of them

Dear Time Magazine,

I am writing concerning the article “The Syrians Next Door” by Robin Shulman/Des Moines published in the Time Magazine issue of November 14th 2016. I was moved by the article for its honesty and clarity, however, I couldn’t get myself to continue reading and ignore something that made me particularly disturbed.

It reads, “An Iraqi volunteer helping Syrians has been reassuring other newcomers that America has laws to prevent someone from taking power and behaving like an Arab dictator” (pg. 46). This is of concern to me because it borders on the line of stereotyping. Although it is known that there have been many Arab dictators on the past, placing this adjective has more power in doing more harm than actually giving information. Be it a mild joke, or just an innocent statement, I personally feel that this blankets on all Arab leaders who are dictators, and doing injustice to the people under their rule. It’s like saying, “behaving like an American journalist, or behaving like an Spanish soccer player”. Now, how exactly do American journalists, or Spanish soccer players behave like? The statement is quite open to misinterpretation that all American Journalists of all Spanish Soccer players behave in a certain way; which borders in becoming a stereotype. While this expression …” an Arab dictator” might also have been used to bring out the image of the kind of leadership that the author was referring to, it does more harm by its insidious nature.

I write not specifically because I have seen what simple statements, even as minute as this particular one does to how people conceptualize a place, or a group of people, oversimplifying the image. There might have been other instances that do this, but I believe, as a magazine that holds such a broad readership, there has to be caution when using adjective that are particular to a group of people or place. I would suggest editing it to something like “…behaving like a wicked dictator.” or something that is less damaging than this.

Thank you.


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