G. sends these excerpts from George Patton’s book,
Notes on the Arab
June 9, 1943
It took me a long time to realize how much a student of medieval history can gain from observing the Arabs…
The Arab influence on Spain and Latin America is again emphasized as summer weather approaches. There is a regular epidemic of sombreros made of particolored straw, exactly like those we know at home, except that, since they are worn superimposed on the turban, they are much larger…
Another similarity between the Arab and the Mexican is the utter callousness with which they treat animals. Neither an Arab nor a Mexican would think of unpacking an animal during a prolonged halt. If the beast is chafed raw, the Arab does not even bother to treat the wound with lard, which is the invariable panacea with the Mexican. He just lets it bleed and trusts to Allah. Because a horse is dead lame is no reason for not working him.
All the animals are head-shy and many are blind as a result of the cheerful custom of beating them on the head with stick.
The method of castrating sheep and cattle is unspeakably cruel. I think that the reason that the horse and donkeys are not altered is due to their architecture, which forbids the employment of the Arab method.
One cannot but ponder the question: What if the Arabs had been Christians? To me it seems certain that the fatalistic teachings of Mohammed and the utter degradation of women is the outstanding cause for the arrested development of the Arab. He is exactly as he was around the year 700, while we have kept on developing. Here, I think, is a text for some eloquent sermon on the virtues of Christianity.
(David G.: Below, Patton seems stymied as to just how to explain the persistence of the Arab culture.)
The Patton Papers 1940-1945
The fatalism attributable to Koranic law may be the basis for Mohammedan decadence…
The high caste Arabs whom I know are the most courteous, considerate, and generous gentlemen I have ever met. Should we attempt to Occidentalize the Arabs, we would make a mistake. Despite the complete difference in our outlook on life, he is, in his filth and poverty, contented and perhaps happy. Our clamorous urge for a more generous life is unknown to him. Our heartaches at failure pass by him. Kismet is less exigent than ambition.
After all, whether you call him God or Allah, a benign being rules the world. If the Arab way of life were completely wrong, He would not permit it—or am I, too, becoming a fatalist?