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Bigotry has once again reared its ugly face in a piece by columnist Thomas Friedman, published in the New York Times on March 2,2007. Part of his piece was based on a poem he retrieved from the Middle East Media and Research Institute [MEMRI] web site. It read in part:
"When you find that the large majority of people oppose freedom and find joy in slavery — do not be too distressed, you are in an Arab country."
First of all, MEMRI is an organization that is well known for its anti- Arab and anti- Muslim reporting. It is founded and operated by a former Israeli military intelligence officer. According to a recent article published in the British Guardian newspaper, MEMRI reporting is slanted toward Israel and it disseminates information that defames Arabs and Muslims. Citing MEMRI as a reference on Arab/Muslim issues is like consulting Hugo Chavez of Venezuela about a documentary on the U.S.A.
Secondly, the last time an Arab nation had a genuine and free election on January, 2006, the United States , along with Israel led the Western nations in a boycott of the election results by imposing a collective punishment on the Palestinian people. Simply put, cutting off the food supply line and the millions a month in collected tax revenue that Israeli owes the Palestinian Authority.
When the Palestinians were asked to choose their own representative, the majority choose Hamas. Immediately, Secretary of State Rice has the audacity to demand the return of the 50 million dollars given as an economic aide to the Palestinians. A true lesson in promoting a democracy!
By contrast, when Israel elected its 11th prime minister in March 2001, it chose Ariel Sharon for the position. He was an indicted war-criminal by his own government for war crimes committed in Lebanon . America ‘s official reaction was, we do not interfere in the "internal affair" of other nations. So, the U.S. president rolled out red carpet for him at the White House and even called him a "man of peace".
Thomas Friedman’s insulting of an ancient and rich culture is cheap shot. Perhaps Friedman should take heed from the popular saying, "If you live in a house of glass, don’t throw stones…" If I were to add to the above poem, for Friedman’s reading pleasure, and others like him who frequently degrade and bash Arabs and Muslims, I would propose the following:
When the leader of a foreign nation, like the King of Jordan could speak better English than your own president–don’t feel ashamed, you live in America .
When a married female school teacher has sex with five of her own middle school students–don’t call them the lucky 5, you live in America .
When you perform a DNA test on a 5 month old baby to determine which one out of 5 men is the biological father– what a way to go, you live in America.
When 7 out of 10 adults surveyed could pick out a photograph of Yassir Arafat, but not those of their own Secretary of State or Secretary of Defense– it’s time to wake up, you live in America .
When a mother pays for her daughter’s breast enlargement on her 16th birthday, so she would look more appealing to the opposite sex– get out of town, you live in America .
When you elect a president who was arrested 3 times– don’t ask, don’t tell, you live in America .
When your president’s name is reduced to one letter, "W" so he could spell it– that’s silly, you live in America .
When you are able to sue the weatherman–what will they do next, you live in America .
When what was once called the "People’s House" suddenly turns into a ‘whore house’– just ask Slick Willy, you live in America .
When you have more jails and more criminals that any other country on earth"I rest my case, you live in America .
When more people in Western European nations consider you to pose the most threat to world peace — the truth is a bitter pill to swallow, you live in America .
When 34 of your sailors are killed, 172 injured, and a 23-year old brave peace activist is run over by a military bulldozer by the same foreign nation, and you are not allowed to publicly express outrage, retaliation, or initiate an investigation without the fear of retribution– don’t be a wimp, you live in America !
MAHMOUD EL-YOUSSEPH (TSGT / USAF [Ret.]) lives in Ohio.
He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org