As someone whose nephew died in Afghanistan, I am acutely sensitive to these hearings and to the shameless hypocrisy of our elected representatives.
O, the Republicans pressed all the emotional buttons: It’s about CAIR, stupid. The Council of American Islamic Relations is who our enemy truly is, they said. It has multitudes of chapters in the United States, is well organized, is gaining confidence, is becoming savvy at lobbying in Washington, is solvent. O God, it can even win seats in the House — all those fearful characteristics that have made the congressional friends of Israel nervous.
They tried to link CAIR to Hamas and to the Muslim Brotherhood. They said CAIR is building a wall between law enforcement and the community, is radicalizing the vulnerable, weak-minded Muslim youth of America and delivering them into the clutches of Al Qaeda. There were too many mosques in America, they said. Islam is becoming too powerful in America. It is a grave crisis confronting us today. Out threat level has never been so high. We must form a common defense against CAIR, they said. It wants to destroy Israel.
Our beloved constitution, they said, will be subservient to Sharia. Watch out, America. The Muslims are coming. The Muslims are here. Be fearful, America, but fear no longer, for Peter King will secure the homeland, including Israel. Peter King will entrap CAIR and destroy it, earning himself a political home run. The battle has begun. This is only the first salvo.
And thus was lost a good opportunity to truly learn the truth about The Extent of Radicalization in the American –Muslim Community and Investigate the Community’s Response— which is the exact title of the hearings.
Years before he flew to Afghanistan, my nephew attended a suburban Catholic High School where he wrote his first major term paper titled, History’s Most Persecuted Minority is Insensitive to the Aspirations of the Worlds Most Dispossessed Tribe. I remember the long title verbatim because I was struck by the eloquence of it, by his idea of injustice, his identification with the Palestinian cause, his radicalization, if you must, Mr. Chairman.
This is not a perception. It’s a reality, deeply felt by the majority of the world’s Muslims, young and old, from Seattle to Srinagar, where the democratic Indians are trying to control the radicalized Kashmiri Muslims of which I am one. Ugh!
Mr. Chairman, I am merely a subject of the United States. You are a king. You sit in a high chair in an oak-paneled room under the glare of lights at my behest. You are answerable to your subjects. I must ask: Are you really serious about investigating the Muslim community’s response? If you are, which I believe you are, then please be on right side of history to see the world as radicalized Muslims see it.
We hate you because you do not consider us worthy of democracy, of determining our own future; how bloody patronizing of you. You think we have for centuries been ruled by despots and so you continue to impose your choice of despots on us, while you loosen our oil spigots, arm and enrich a colonial settler state, your cop on the beat who ensures the oil flows smoothly and the despots keep the subjects quiet with the tanks and fighter jets you supply them.
Mr. Chairman, there is a symbiotic relationship between our radicalized youth and your imperialism. They feed on each other and need each other. It is the New Cold War, to paraphrase one of your pseudo-intellectual witnesses at the hearings. Since any secular, revolutionary opposition to imperial despotism, will always meet a full out suppression campaign by you, your military henchmen or your gendarme state, it’s just dandy to promote shoe, underwear and flight school amateur chemistry kids as soldiers of Al Qaeda sworn to destroy America, more so now right here in the manicured homeland, working within their sleeper organizations, such as CAIR.
You call it the Eisenhower doctrine. We call it imperial pillage. Why should it surprise you when it engenders feelings of helplessness and indifference in some, and blind rage in young educated, discontent middle class or higher Muslim youth — whom you choose to dub “home-grown terrorists”— who get involved in movements opposing the status quo or fighting back against U.S. hegemony? Or, like my nephew, who found himself in the wrong terrain, at the wrong time under a wrong sky for, unbeknownst to him, a bored, young armchair pilot 11,000 miles away in Nevada rained down misery on Tora Bora, in the name of liberty.
RAFIQ KATHWARI, a poet, divides his time between New York, Dublin and Kashmir. He can be reached at email@example.com