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While the United States continues to perpetrate unspeakable terrorism against various populations, killing innocent men, women and children in Yemen with drone strikes against suspected ‘terrorists’, attacking groups it created in Iraq and Afghanistan, and funding Israeli apartheid, its spokespeople hypocritically and selectively condemn terrorism committed by other organizations. And following the killing of several people at the offices of the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris by a group proclaiming to have some roots in Islam, violence against Muslims has increased, with little criticism by the U.S.
This has all been made worse by the recent release of the movie American Sniper, which glorifies the life of a mass murderer. It has long been a fact of U.S. life that murder when committed in uniform is somehow noble, and the perpetrator heroic. And today, it is all the more glorious if the victims happen to wear hijabs and kufeyahs. So violence and terrorism against Muslims, or any Arab for that matter, receives nothing but silence from the United States. A few incidents are instructive.
* It was reported that on February 4 of this year, a Muslim woman, her husband and their four children were returning from a Florida vacation to their home in Michigan, on a Delta airlines flight. Another woman on the flight began insulting and threatening the Muslim woman because of her head scarf. While other passengers were supportive of the victim, the flight attendant was not. In a videotaped recording of the incident, the flight attendant is heard to say “You better be quiet before I kick you off of this plane”. The attendant then forced the mother to change her seat, to accommodate the woman who had been shouting insults at her. One can only imagine the government’s response if a Jewish woman had been subjected to this treatment.
* On February 5, Israeli Occupation Forces terrorists, heavily armed with U.S.-provided weapons, stormed a secondary school in Palestine in retribution for students throwing stones at them. Tear gas and sound bombs were fired, terrorizing the students and causing the suspension of classes for the day. This writer is still awaiting the U.S. government’s outraged response. Rest assured that he is not holding his breath.
* In less than a week following the attack at the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris, organizations in France that track anti-Muslim violence documented at least 15 attacks against Muslims. The U.S. has been silent.
* On January 29, 2015, the eleventh annual Texas Capitol Muslim Day, an event billed as ‘an opportunity for community members to learn about the democratic political process and how to be an advocate for important issues,’ the U.S. further disgraced itself. Texas state representative, Molly White (R- Belton) , although not in her office that day, left instructions with her staff that any visiting Muslims must renounce terrorism and proclaim their allegiance to the U.S. And if that wasn’t sufficiently insulting, she left an Israeli flag on the reception desk in her office. Reports indicate that the ‘likes’ on her Facebook page have spiked, and she is receiving significant support for her views. Prior to her election, she posted this on Facebook: ‘Muslims cannot be trusted no matter how peaceful they appear.”
Is not the most basic sign of racism or religious prejudice the lumping together of an entire group by some negative characteristic? Not many generations ago it was said that ‘all the Irish are dishonest’. Or perhaps ‘All Poles are stupid’. How about ‘All Italians are criminals’? And let’s not forget that most pervasive of American racism’s ugly offspring: ‘All Negros are lazy’. It is hoped, perhaps naively, that, except in limited, ignorant although sometimes powerful circles, these stupid beliefs have melted away, evaporated in the sun of education and knowledge. Legislation, at least, exists to prevent their institutionalism in the official channels of governance. But now we have Ms. White proclaiming that ‘all Muslims cannot be trusted’, and demanding that each Muslim, U.S. citizen or not, who enters her office renounce terrorism and pledge their allegiance to the U.S. Does this not hark back to an earlier, more primitive and racist day?
One could not be criticized for thinking that justice in the U.S. is a privilege afforded only to the special few; certainly it is not offered across the board. And human rights globally are reserved for those countries and their people who have powerful lobbies within the U.S. One longs for Palestine, Yemen, Afghanistan and other countries victimized by the U.S. to have wealthy supporters in the U.S. who will demand that Congress do their bidding, as AIPAC (American Israel Political Affairs Committee) does so successfully. Imagine, if you will, what Palestine would be like today, if billions of dollars of U.S. taxpayer monies, instead of being sent to Israel, were instead sent to Palestine. Think of that country having a powerful army, navy and air force, all gifts from the U.S. What would Afghanistan be like today, if instead of being the victim of U.S. bombs, it was the recipient of vast U.S. aid, with no conditions attached?
But no, unfortunately, not only do these nations not have those powerful U.S. lobbies, they also have significant Muslim populations; you know, those people that Ms. White informs us cannot be trusted. So their basic human needs, their dignity, need not be considered. They can be killed, arrested without charge regardless of their age, tortured, evicted from their homes, deprived of their livelihoods, assaulted with chemical and other weapons banned by international law, and it’s all fine with the U.S. government. They all belong at the back of the bus, and have no business up front, let alone being allowed to drive it.
What is to be done? How can that quaint old statement, ‘all men are created equal’ be brought into fashion? Even when written, it only applied to white males, so was quite limited until expanded generations later by Supreme Court decree. But today it seems to be shrinking back to its originally conceived intent: white, Anglo-Saxon Protestants are all welcome; others need not apply.
The answer isn’t easy, but that doesn’t excuse resignation. Those with a more enlightened view, who recognize that equal rights for all actually means equal rights for all, must expand their efforts to educate and legislate, with education being the foundation of the passage of any reasonable legislation. Until that happens, black youths in the U.S., Muslims around the world, and entire nations such as Palestine will continue to suffer from U.S. injustice and terrorism. And our grandchildren will demand to know why we allowed it.
Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press).