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In my blog entry yesterday about residents in Marka, Jordan, watching Obama's speech to the Muslim world, I mentioned several people who saw Obama on TV and reflexively cursed at the screen. Logic might hold that these same people would not be happy to see an American at that moment, but that was far from the case.
At first some eyed me suspiciously, but when I introduced myself, not hiding the fact that I'm an American, and every single person who cursed at the TV offered to buy me lunch and seemed genuinely disappointed when I declined because I had to work. I gave a few of them my business card and one guy who seemed to have the most vitriolic hatred of Obama/the American government called me this afternoon to invite me to lunch with his family.
The experience is an excellent example of how most people here draw a bold line between the American government and the American people. I've worked with many people in the Middle East who strongly oppose the U.S. government, but it's generally an oddity to find someone who transfers that mistrust to me as an American citizen. It's also safe to say that many of these same people who hate the U.S. government would be eager for the opportunity to travel to the U.S. and certainly to hang out with an American.