Harry Nicolaides, in “Letter From Saudi Arabia: The Year of Teaching Dangerously” (Correspondence, September), recounted an experience that an acquaintance found to be farfetched. Although I have never lived in Saudi Arabia, I experienced almost every element of Mr. Nicolaides’ story while living in France and Germany.
While studying and working in France in 1997, it was not uncommon to run across Algerians, in the Muslim parts of Paris, peddling bootleg pornography. And although they considered all French women to be whores, it certainly did not stop them from hounding French women in bars. Like a pack of wolves fresh on the scent, they would work in groups, catcalling and groping often defenseless females sitting alone.
The real award, though, goes to the Azerbaijanis and Egyptians who were studying at the same Goethe-Institut as I in Dresden. Many of the stories (and I’ve recounted them frequently over a gin and tonic to friends) seem straight out of Borat. One Azerbaijani told me that a doctor recently had proved the Azerbaijani penis to be the most virile in the world. And, while reveling in such national treasures, they would often become very “touchy” with me and the other Westerners there (mostly Swedish attorneys). They were not “gay,” however, because, when I brought up the topic of homosexuality, one of them spit on the floor and said that all homosexuals should be lined up and shot.
One of the most insightful events was when an Egyptian student let me look into his lockbox, which contained pornographic magazines and an assortment of books on Hitler. The admiration of Hitler, however, did not extend beyond a mere the-enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend dynamic. In class once, when European ethnic nationalism was discussed, the Muslims furiously dissented, siding with the multicultural left. One doesn’t want to bite the hand that feeds, especially when that hand is providing free materials and labor for Trojan horses all over Europe.
—Matthew A. Roberts
Kansas City, MO