FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Anti-Arabic Week in a Southern High School

‘In March, two 16-year-old Muslim girls were imprisoned by the FBI on the assertion (no charges, mind you) that they are “an imminent threat to the security of the United States based on evidence that they plan to be suicide bombers.” The FBI stories unraveled as fast as they were created

“As Muslims decried the treatment of the young girls, many voices from the patriotic front were heard approving and justifying the same. This support was usually mixed with ill-concealed bile toward Muslims and Islam; how violent they are and how hateful their religion. They restate the 9/11 tragedy and cast the present in an “us-or-them” situation where it becomes the Muslims’ fault that the United States is “forced” to take such actions.”

Muslims are Targets of Paranoid US, CommonDreams, 5/6/05

At last the two Muslim teenagers have been freed. (not surprisingly, we now learn that the 16 year olds presented no threat to America or to the world as we know it). But before we rejoice at their release, we should ask how the United States ever became such a paranoid, weird, mean-spirited and increasingly un-super power.

Whatever happened to “looking out for the other guy”, “we’re all in this together”, “the minority must always be protected” and “innocent until proven guilty”? These and other once-familiar sayings, reflective of democracy and fairness, are beginning to fade from our collective memory. Since 9/11, or so we’re told, we can no longer “afford” such indulgences in individual justice and human rights. Now’s the time for fear-and with fear comes its handmaiden, hatred.

Paranoia and hatred of all things Arab (of which Muslim is but a subset) have become staples of adult Bushians. But, as the saying goes, children must be taught to hate. Furthermore, they must be taught whom they can hate openly, without the risk of censure or disapprobation.

Following is a letter I received last month from a 17-year-old high school student from Virginia. What I find especially disturbing about this incident is (1) its “microcosm” reflection of the larger culture’s increasingly bold expressions of bigotry and (2) the large brush with which a language, spoken by millions the world over, was painted as some sort of monolithic threat to America:

“In my college-level honors English class, there are several highly competitive kids who try to show everyone how funny, witty or super-patriotic they are by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance as loudly as they can. The rest of us just grimace and cover our ears as they show off at 7:45 am by shouting the lines in a military “sound-off” cadence: “I PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE! TO THE FLAG! OF THE UNITED STATES! OF AMERICA!”. But during Foreign Language Week, when the pledge was read over the loudspeaker in various languages, we had even more reason to dread this raucous ritual.

“Things went fine on the first day when Spanish was the featured language. But when the pledge was recited in French, the loudmouths made it clear that they weren’t pleased, with sarcastic remarks and groans of irritation.

“But the biggest protest occurred on Friday, the final day of Foreign Language Week, when a student read the pledge in Arabic. The loud kids complained, “Oh please!” and “How could they do this?” Some students even sat down and refused to participate, including the same students who yell the pledge at the top of their lungs every other day.

“My friends and I looked over at those popular people—the class clowns–in disgust. Isn’t it good that we have some diversity? Isn’t it good when an Arab student recites the Pledge of Allegiance in his own language? Doesn’t this refute the assumption, so pervasive among students in our ROTC-focused school, that all Arabs are “against us”?

“Not everybody acted like the class clowns, but they are loud and plentiful enough to give the message that the Arab student was not worthy of reciting the pledge. His language makes him guilty of something-somehow affiliated with terrorists. I was amazed to see that these kids, preppy high achievers considered by many the crème de la crème of our school system, could be so openly and proudly hostile and bigoted. These are the popular kids, the ones who set the example for all the rest. And that’s what’s really scary.”
Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, What You Say Is What You Are

“‘Symbolic conduct’ is the term coined by David Perkins, PhD of Harvard University to describe how our behaviors communicate our attitudes, assumptions and valueschildren read between the lines of your behavior-your symbolic conduct-to discover your true values and priorities.” Jesus on Parenting: 10 Essential Principles that Will Transform Your Family

Time and again I’ve heard Bush-supporting “conservatives” claim that prejudice towards Arab-sounding and Arab-looking people is justified “by 9/11” and/or “terrorism”, and that this bigotry cannot be compared to the anti-Semitism that percolated in pre-Nazi Germany. They don’t see any danger to innocent people in permitting anti-Arabism to run rampant, subtly and otherwise, across America. Disappointed by the new prohibition against executing children convicted of violent crimes, they certainly don’t think that 16-year-old Muslim girls should be excluded from draconian “anti-terror” measures.

Bushians trust in their little god to keep them safe, as long as they adopt his attitudes toward “the Enemy” and hate all the right people. White Bushians are quick to say that racism against blacks is off-limits, but do a “wink-wink, nudge-nudge” when racist remarks are made about Arabs-whether American or foreign, Christian or Muslim. What they forget (or are, like old Klansmen and NeoNazis, pleased to know), the children are listening.

Bushians can’t imagine how a little racial profiling here and there could do any harm, or that traumatizing young girls for the sake of “national security” could possibly set a dangerous precedent.

I hope they’re right, but I doubt it: Fascism rarely goes into remission without serious attention and treatment-especially in its earliest “wink-wink, nudge-nudge” stage.

Dr. TERESA WHITEHURST is a clinical psychologist and writer. Her most recent book describes the nonviolent guidance of children,Jesus on Parenting: 10 Essential Principles that Will Transform Your Family, Baker Books, 9/2004.

You can contact her at DrTeresa@JesusontheFamily.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:
bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
January 22, 2020
Melvin Goodman
The Media and the Military Mindset
John Davis
The Real Megxit Deal
John O'Kane
The Obama Legacy: Reform Versus Revolution
Kenneth Surin
The “Evolving” Scotty Morrison From Marketing
Martin Billheimer
“The Cops & the Klan Go Hand in Hand!”
Thomas Knapp
Executive Power: Alan Dershowitz’s Imagination Versus the Constitution
Jacob G. Hornberger
Egypt and the Destruction of Civil Liberties in America
Justin Podur
The People of Colombia are Cracking the Walls of War and Authoritarianism
Kelsey Hawkins-Johnson
Our Final Decade to Get Climate Policy Right
Jonah Raskin
Terence Hallinan: Fighter for the People and for the Legalization of Marijuana 
Colin Todhunter
Challenging the Flawed Premise Behind Pushing GMOs into Indian Agriculture
January 21, 2020
Sheldon Richman
Warmonger Cotton Accuses Antiwar Think Tank of Anti-Semitism
John Feffer
Trump Makes Space Great Again
Patrick Cockburn
The US and Iran’s Perpetual Almost-War is Unsustainable – and Will End Badly
James C. Nelson
Another Date That Will Live in Infamy: 10 Years After Citizens United
Robert Fisk
Iran Will be Changed Forever by Admitting Its Great Mistake, Unlike the West Which Ignores Its Own Misdeeds
Dean Baker
Did Shareholders’ Benefit by Paying Boeing’s Fired CEO $62 Million?
Susan Roberts
The Demise of the Labour Party and the Future For UK Socialism
Binoy Kampmark
Janus-Faced on Climate Change: Microsoft’s Carbon Vision
David Levin
The Teamster Revolt Against the Hoffa Era
Victor Grossman
Defender and Spearheads
Russell Mokhiber
BS Public Editor and the Disease of Contempt
Tiffany Muller
Get the Money Out of Politics: 10 Years After Citizens United
Laura Flanders
Iowa is Not the Twitterverse
Graham Peebles
Education: Expanding Purpose
Elliot Sperber
Handball in Brooklyn 
January 20, 2020
Paul Street
Trump Showed Us Who He Was Before He Became President
Eric Mann
Martin Luther King and the Black Revolutionary Tradition
Ipek S. Burnett
MLK and the Ghost of an Untrue Dream
Mark Harris
Better Living Through Glyphosate? Spray Now, Ask Questions Later
Katie Fite
Owyhee Initiative Wilderness and Public Lands Deal Critique: Ten Years After
Thomas Knapp
A Loophole for the Lawless: “Qualified Immunity” Must Go
REZA FIYOUZAT
Best Enemies Forever: The Iran-U.S. Kabuki Show
Jeff Mackler
Worldwide Furor Sparked by U.S. Assassination of Iran’s General Suleimani
William deBuys
The Humanitarian and Environmental Disaster of Trump’s Border Wall
Binoy Kampmark
A Matter of Quality: Air Pollution, Tennis and Sporting Officialdom
James Haught
GOP Albatross
Jill Richardson
Why Do We Have School Lunch Debt at All?
Robert Koehler
Nuclear Hubris
Patrick T. Hiller
Instead of Real-Time Commentary, Eight Common-Sense Reason for Not Going to War with Iran
Charles Andrews
A Note on Carlos Ghosn and Global Capitalism
Jeffrey St. Clair
Some Trees: Los Angeles
Weekend Edition
January 17, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: No Woman, No Cry
Kathleen Wallace
Hijacking the Struggles of Others, Elizabeth Warren Style
Robert Hunziker
The Rumbling Methane Enigma
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail