Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Middle Eastern students, and appreciators of Middle Eastern culture, were appalled to find a cartoonish chalking of a multi-colored camel, apparently in roller skates, drawn on the hill from Sharples. The chalkings were part of Middle Eastern Cultural week, and While many offered interesting information and insights, critics say the drawing of the camel once again fell into stereotypes of Middle Eastern culture.
“Haven’t we seen enough of Arab culture being reduced to caricatures?” asked Edward Stated ’08. “This kind of drawing is the reason why people ask me if I ride around in camels when I’m in Iran!” said another student. “What’s next, a portrait of Aladdin and Jasmine flying over Agrabah?!” asked a third.
The chalker, an Arab-American student, was shocked and appalled when she realized what she had done. Preferring to remain anonymous, she said “Oh my god. I was so problematic…so problematic! And I didn’t even realize!” However, she believed the drawing was justified. “Look, I mean, I like camels! Camels are important to Arab culture! I have pictures of camels all over my house!” Another student agreed, adding “Why should we allow the West to co-opt our symbols, and allow them to dictate our terms of representation?” A Daily Jolt reader responded with, “Thanks for the input, Soc/Anth major.”
Regardless, the chalker feels properly ashamed. “Forgive me Edward Said, for I have sinned,” she said as she began to atone.