Tuesday, August 30, 2005


On one sunny Saturday in the Buckeye state, I decided to give my friend N a vist. She was supposed to be working in her lab, and I had nothing better to do (!!). I was passing through this happy-to-be-back phase, after coming from a visit to Lebanon. I arrived to the building, and what do you know, my friend has already gone. Fate had it that I passed by a green chalk board on my way out, and I- the ever-bored fellow that I am- contemplated doing something "funny".

With an innocent smile on my face, I took a chalk and wrote N a message on the board. The "fun" part was that the sentence was in Arabic, informing N of my visit to her lab. How cute is that?

Two days later (i.e. Monday morning), life was taking its course. I was meeting my advisor, discussing some ideas, surfing the internet, and listening to the new Charbel Rouhana single. But on the other side of campus, a different story was unveiling.

By lunch time, the security level in N's building was raised to Code Red (exaggeration). N was called upon in a hurry by her Hillbilly secretary and questioned about a matter of severe importance. The matter? "Does she know anything about the Arabic writings in the department?" Now how pathetic and frustrating is that? 19 people (according to the Hillbilly) asked for a translator to check if the writings were a threatening or a "terrorist" statement of any kind. Nineteen dumb-ass university level students and professional scientists wanted to check what the Arabic words I wrote on a board in the hallway meant!!! We are not talking about illeterate Americans here, not even school-level individuals. How can someone in contact with people from different cultures from every corner of the world, working on the latest in educational and scientific findings feel threatened by something written on a chalk board, just because it is Arabic? How can someone be so lame? And how dumb and pathetic would you have to be to allow yourself to live in such fear?

Anyway, the issue was solved with N blowing some steam off, and calling me to tell me about the "funny" incident. We discussed sending a letter to the Grad School office, asking for an appology or something. We will see about that. It is good this didn't happen during my first year, it would have gotten to me. Now I only laugh and pitty those fools.

... funny America.