From The Reluctant Fundamentalist, discuss the potential meaning of the following quote:  “As though you are wondering what sort of training camp could have given a fellow from the plains such...

From The Reluctant Fundamentalist, discuss the potential meaning of the following quote:  “As though you are wondering what sort of training camp could have given a fellow from the plains such as myself cause to engage in these activities.”

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I tend to think that the potential meaning of this quote is to challenge the initial assumptions of racism that might cloud an American's perception of fundamentalism in the Middle East, particularly with those of the Islamic faith.  The thoughts preceding the quote are Changez's assertion that his scar has drawn attention from the American.  In describing how it looks similar to a rope burn and within this how people could see this as something related to rope climbing, it is here where Changez opens the door of perception and ethnicity.  The language of the quote is fairly telling.  The idea of a "training camp" linked to a "cause" helps to bring out the fundamental Western fear that all young men of the Islamic faith who have scars and embrace traditional notions of the good have been trained at some type of indoctrination camp, brainwashing them against Western interests and compelling them to embrace some form of radical Islamic fundamentalism.  Changez follows this quote up with an explanation of how he got the scar, which is far from a realm of a training camp.  In this quote, the open discussion of how ethnic judgments formed out of stereotypes can guide both interactions, and infinitely more dangerous, political policy.

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