Anti-Western populations in the Arab world are not as "anti" as they, or we, think. Many among the crowd of protestors outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo this week would have been only too pleased to apply for a visa to study or work in the United States. Those removing the American flag, and shouting anti-American slogans, were wearing jeans and T-shirts.
In Egypt, and other Middle Eastern countries, there is a mental disconnect, a love-hate relationship with the United States. American technology, medicine, coffee at Starbucks, McDonalds, Coca Cola, cars, Hollywood movies and judging by the slogans of the Arab uprisings in 2011, even American political ideals of liberty and democracy, are hugely popular.
But there is a dark side to this attachment to all things American: the flawed but popular narrative that the U.S. is at war with Islam and Muslims. Al Qaeda is a violent manifestation of this myth, but plenty of others embrace this view as fact.