Saturday, August 6, 2005


Singling out Muslims is un-American

Mansour El-Kikhia

San Antonio Express-News
August 5, 2005

I received 400-plus e-mails responding to my column last week, "Arabs shouldn't have to apologize." I do, however, need to apologize to all the readers who took the time to send feedback for my inability to respond to each of them individually.

Sadly, it hasn't been fun reading many of the messages. The content betrays unimaginable racism, hatred and ignorance. I never thought I would have such an experience in a society claiming to be civilized.

In addition to the e-mails, I was contacted by a number of radio stations within and outside the United States. I was also invited to appear on a popular show on one of the networks. I declined because I am willing to fight the devil anywhere except in hell.

Some individuals wanted to convert me, while others wanted me to pack up and leave. Some threatened physical harm to me and all Muslims and Arabs. A reader took the opportunity to remind me "the dam is cracking" and the time of retribution is at hand.

Some of the readers were parroting a Washington Post column by Charles Krauthammer. His piece piqued my interest. Krauthammer, a psychiatrist-turned-columnist, advocates racial profiling and searches. His proposal for a secure transit system in New York and other parts of America is to search only Muslims and Arabs. He doesn't say how he will distinguish an Arab from a non-Arab or a Muslim from a non-Muslim, but he does say we all look the same. I find his solution applicable only if Arabs and Muslims are made to wear identifiers.

Some in the United States would love to see the revival of such oppressive tactics and, perhaps, require all Arabs and Muslims to wear an insignia of some sort. How fast we forget the lessons of history, where calamities are calamities only if they touch us.

Politics does, indeed, make for strange bedfellows. Many Arabs, including me, would rather die than submit to such dishonorable nonsense. In all my years, I have rarely seen Islamic publications condemning or belittling Jesus Christ, his mother or his apostles. Nor have I seen any belittling Judaism, Moses or David. Indeed, to go further, I have never seen a mainstream publication in Arab or Muslim states condemning Christianity orJudaism. Even the majority of fundamentalist publications do not touch either negatively. However, a few do, but these remain on the fringes and many can only publish their diatribe outside the Arab world.

In spite of what some say, America was never intended to be solely a Christian country. It was a land occupied by individuals running away from religious oppression. The Constitution separates church and state, and the first presidents can be described more as deists than adherents to any particular religion. Why, then, is religion being injected into the legal, political and educational systems? And, more important, why are we doing that at a time when we are urging Muslims to separate religion from politics and law? This leads me to only one conclusion. In much of the Arab and Muslim worlds, religious societies are trying to change secular governments, while in the United States a religious government is trying to change a secular society.

and... the article that caused the brou ha ha:

I am fed up with the ceaseless requests by columnists, religious personalities and other American public figures for Arabs and Muslims to apologize for terrorist acts committed by thugs and murderers in the name of Islam.

As far as I am concerned, the final straw came a couple of weeks ago when the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, paid for a national advertisement repudiating terrorism in the name of Islam.

As soon as the advertisement was broadcast on America's media, I read a column by one of the nation's most ardent Islam-phobic columnists, Cal Thomas, now also a FOX News personality, which plowed into CAIR's reconciliation efforts. Long before 9-11, Thomas' writings were full of venom for Arabs and Muslims. He represents a despicable and ignorant attitude that, unfortunately, a sizable segment of America has come to share. There is nothing American Muslims can do to satisfy this group short of packing up and leaving the United States.

I disagree with what CAIR did, and I also disagree with this groveling and begging for forgiveness, as though American Arabs and Muslims are responsible for those atrocities. CAIR knows better, and those running it know that Islam rejects all acts of violence outside self-defense. Arab and Muslim Americans are responsible for neither the twin towers nor the London subway bombings, and as Americans they should never accept responsibility for actions they did not instigate, commit or condone.

Furthermore, in spite of the fact they are constantly condemned for one thing or another, they — like other Americans — are victims of these murderers. Does anyone think they are pleased to have their movements and telephone conversations monitored or that coercive and freedom-depriving laws are tailored for them? Does anyone in his or her right mind really believe that being an Arab American or a Muslim is pleasant in America today?

The United States has lost 3,000 souls to terrorist thugs, but that figure is miniscule compared to the 60,000 Algerians or the 25,000 Iraqis who also have died at their hands. These thugs don't differentiate between Muslim and non-Muslim, Arab and non-Arab when they plant a bomb or enter a village at night and murder everyone.

It is rejection of U.S. and British policies in the Middle East, not Islam, that has promoted terrorism against America. And for the benefits of those who do not know, 95 percent of Middle Easterners are Muslims. Hence, it is only natural that those opposing the United States and Britain in the region would be Muslims. In India, they would have been Hindu; in Latin America or Northern Ireland, they would have been Catholic.
More important, it was the British and the United States that drew first blood. The Middle East didn't come to America or go to Britain; rather, America and Britain went to the Middle East. Both powers used and abused regimes, toppling some and keeping others in power. They never thought that the people they were helping suppress were human beings with needs, beliefs and emotions. They didn't care as long as their interests were served.

America's experience in the Middle East is no different from its Southeast Asia stint, and look at the mess it left in that region.

However, while the calamity of Vietnam, Laos and Kampuchea might be rationalized by the Cold War or even a domino theory, there is nothing to rationalize the invasion of Iraq except ideological stupidity. The United States illegally invaded and decimated a country that did not threaten its security and, in the process, unleashed one of the most vile and ruthless insurgencies the region has ever seen. And as it did in Vietnam, when the going got tough, it is planning to pull out. The result will be a protracted instability and turmoil that no country in the region can escape.

Future turmoil in the region is exactly what the instigators of the Iraq invasion have planned all along. They had made their desire for strife in the Middle East known long before the invasion of Iraq. Yet they underestimated the consequences of their lunacy and set into motion processes and events that will make the United States less secure and threaten the lives of Americans for many years to come.
San Antonio Express News


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