Tag Archives: Muslim

An Open Letter to Racist Tweeters on Miss America

By: Sayantani DasGupta

Screen shot 2013-09-17 at 11.57.35 AMDear Racist Tweeters of America,

First and foremost, let me thank you on behalf of feminists of color everywhere, not to mention the producers of the Miss America competition, for making people sit up and take notice of a beauty contest that otherwise would have been off most of our radars.

When I woke up Monday morning to find one of my Indian American friends had posted something on my Facebook wall to the effect of “Sisters! We are Miss America!,” I appreciated the sentiment, but couldn’t bring myself to care that much. After all, I spend most of my life as a feminist scholar, parent, and pediatrician writing and lecturing against the toxic body culture and impossible beauty standards that reduce our daughters’ worth to their physical appearance over their intelligence and actions.

Ok, so some overachieving daughter-of-Indian-immigrants-who-is-also-an-aspiring- cardiologist had done a Bollywood dance, worn a swimsuit, and won a tiara. Beyond a passing eye-roll, I wasn’t that interested.

But then came you, dear tweeters, and the reports of your racist hatredswathed, sari-like, in your unabashed ignorance: your conflation of Indian fusion dance with “Indonesian” dance; your interchange of “Arab” for “Indian”; your assertion that this brown-skinned Miss America was not somehow “American” despite being born in Syracuse, New York. And I realized then that your firestorm of xenophobic fury was nothing more than fodder for an excellent real-life lesson in feminist intersectionality.

Because of you, dear tweeters, I – like many other feminists of color – have been forced to defend a brown woman’s right to win a competition whose premise turns my stomach. (Talent contests! Hair spray! Your answer to world peace in two minutes or less!) Because the truth is, your insight-less cyber-comments reveal much about the reality of living, as brown women, in post-9/11 America.

The ‘contingent citizenship’ faced by most Asian- and Middle Eastern-Americans was a reality of our lives long before the twin towers fell. The perpetual question “where are you from?”–when answered ‘incorrrectly’–is still usually followed up by “no, where are you REALLY from?” (Refer to this genius “What Kind of Asian Are You” video by Ken Tanaka as a cultural refresher.) Somehow, in mainstream American consciousness, it has always been impossible to be both of Asian or Middle Eastern origin and from Texas, or Syracuse, or Ohio. No matter how many generations we have been in the United States, no matter our contributions to this nation, our communities are damned to marginalization as ‘perpetual foreigners.’

But after 9/11, those of us with brown faces (whether Muslim or Sikh, Hindu or Christian, atheist or agnostic) have found ourselves also conflated with the face of terrorism. We have been yelled at on the streets, unduly searched at airports, the victims of hate-crimes, and had our families and communities targeted for police harassment,immigration detention, and deportation.

missamericaSo your tweets that 24-year-old New Yorker Nina Davuluri should be called “Miss 7-11” or “Miss Al-Qaeda,” your outrage that an Indian American could be crowned Miss America only a few days after 9/11, were kind of a call to arms. (And no, I don’t mean the kind of arms toted by blonde, tattooed, huntress Miss Kentucky, Theresa Vail.) Your cyber-hate shed light on something much bigger than mere ‘bigotry’; it unearthed the ugly sentiments that lurk right beneath the surface of life in America, the venomous underbelly of a false patriotism that impacts our communities every day. And so, we brown skinned feminists have had, as always, to perform a complicated dance of alliances: responding to xenophobia and racism without forgoing our gendered analyses.

Without a doubt, beauty is a political issue. Growing up in the heart of the American Midwest in the 1970s, I was assaulted with media images that looked nothing like me, and for a long time was convinced that no one who wasn’t a blonde-haired and blue-eyed Christie Brinkley look-alike could be deemed ‘beautiful.’ This inability to see myself in the world around me eroded my self-esteem and self-confidence for many years, convincing me that perhaps I should be invisible – in body, word, action, and deed.

My thirteen-year-old self would have been thrilled to know that someone like Nina Davuluri – someone like me — could be crowned Miss America. My adult self thinks that maybe such contests are valuing women for the wrong things, and that it’s not the crowning of a Miss America of Indian origin that resolves a little brown girl’s self-hatred, but the ability and courage of we as a society to recognize how sexism, racism, and xenophobia all work together in our lives.

So thank you, Racist Tweeters of America, for opening up this dialogue about the intersectionality of race, nationhood, and gender.  Your comments only remind me how the bodies of women of color continue to be a battleground for so many oppressive forces. And it is only by naming these forces, and recognizing their ugly reflections in our lives, that we can begin to see all of our own true beauty.

But before you take down your hate-filled twitter feed, just provide me one favor. Hashtag #intersectionalityisforracistidiots. Let it hold up a mirror to all the ways you represent what is wrong with America today. And, ironically, the many ways that a brown Miss America reflects what is right.

Kthxbye,

Sayantani

Originally posted on The Feminist Wire

Originally trained in pediatrics and public health, Sayantani DasGupta, M.D. M.P.H., teaches in the Master’s Program in Narrative Medicine at Columbia University and the Graduate Program in Health Advocacy at Sarah Lawrence College. She is Co-Chair of the Columbia University Seminar on Narrative, Health and Social Justice and a faculty fellow at Columbia’s Center for the Study of Social Difference. Sayantani is the co-author of a book of Bengali folktales, the author of a memoir about her time at Johns Hopkins Medical School and co-editor of an award winning collection of women’s illness narratives, Stories of Illness and Healing: Women Write their Bodies. 

Fox News Interviews Religious Scholar Reza Aslan, Makes a Huge Blunder

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Reza Aslan is an author, a religious scholar, a professor, and a leading voice in the sociology of religion. He has four degrees of higher education, including a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School and a PhD in the sociology of religion.

He also happens to be Muslim, and for that reason Fox News apparently doesn’t deem him fit to write about Christianity.

Aslan’s new book, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, was written with the help of the scholar’s 100+ pages of research notes, as well as over 1,000 reference books. It examines the historical context in which Jesus Christ was situated, as well as the social climate in which his work and rhetoric developed.

Despite Aslan’s 20+ years of research and scholarship, Fox News decided to focus primarily on his Muslim faith and whether or not this should disqualify him from writing about Jesus.

Seriously? Aslan reminds the reporter several times, “I have a PhD, and it’s my job to study and write about religions.” As many are asking, is this the most embarrassing interview Fox News has ever done?

There’s a tricky line here because, on the one hand, the presenter clearly hadn’t read Aslan’s book and relies more on bias and false assumptions than on truth. On the other hand, Aslan talks down to the reporter, in his own right relying more heavily on the word “PhD” than on the strength of his own character.

Either way, these individuals are certainly talking past one another, more in anger and pride than in any pursuit of dialogue.

What do you think? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

Deepak Chopra: “Immigration Is Us,” an American Story (Part 2)

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Click here to read part 1. 

By Deepak Chopra and Sanjiv Chopra

Psychological survival meant relying on the time-honored mechanism of the immigrant community. Ours was peculiarly select. It consisted of poor Indian doctors living in the largely black neighborhoods of Jamaica Plain in Boston, where rows of cheap apartments served as the temporary shtetl (the term “Indian diaspora” came into being, although this appropriation isn’t something to be proud of – Indian emigration is voluntary, not forced, and unlike the Jews, we’ve always had a homeland).

It took a decade or so for the shtetl to move to the suburbs. Jamaica Plain was all about curry, beat-up VW beetles, and lonely wives whose husbands slept at the hospital. With prosperity came backyard barbecues, Scotch whiskey, and husbands bragging about their first Cadillac. Willed amnesia became fun. We were fortunate. Our choice to assimilate wasn’t made under hostile scrutiny, unlike the fate of today’s poor Mexican-Americans or religiously conservative Muslims.

A combination of anxiety and ambition drove the founders of the major Hollywood studios. Five studios were founded by Polish Jews born within the Czar’s pale of settlement. These early moguls did everything they could to disguise their origins – sometimes their own children weren’t told – but familiar scenes in Hollywood movies were linked to ancestral memories: the bad guys riding into a Western town at night to burn it to the ground echoed mounted Cossacks burning down Jewish villages during a pogrom.

The darkest suspicion that can be aimed at immigrants is doubt over their desire to become “us,” because remaining “them” is always a threat. After 9/11, many observers were astonished that the band of terrorists who crashed the planes weren’t seduced by their stay in America. Embedded for months in Florida, Las Vegas, and elsewhere, the terrorists partook of American luxuries, but they hadn’t been seduced. Their hatred only deepened. Now there seems to be a pervasive feeling that other immigrants might follow the same path.

Sikhs wearing their traditional turbans look like Muslims to many Americans and suffered for it in the aftermath of 9/11. A harsher spotlight shines on immigrant Muslims who want to retain not just their clothing but their own private schools, the madrassas where strong emphasis is placed on the Koran. In essence their desire to retain a strong religious identity and aloofness from American culture is the same as that of ultra-orthodox Jewish groups and Hasids. The political difference, however, couldn’t be greater. (The Muslim connection to the two Chechen brothers behind the Boston Marathon bombings will probably add to the general suspicion, even if overt Islamophobia remains confined to the harsher corners of the blogosphere.) Historically a stigma was attached by turns to the Irish, Italians, and poor Russian Jews as their waves of settlement arrived. “Anarchists” and “Reds” were secretly infiltrating and subverting American society a hundred years ago when imaginations were as inflamed as they are against Muslims today.

Only now a tipping point has been reached, the so-called demographic time bomb.  The influx of illegal immigrants, combined with higher birth rates compared to the white population and a preponderance of young people, has skewed immigrants as never before. As of 2010, the Census Bureau reports that 12.9% of the population is foreign born. The last Presidential election exhibited how strongly this growing cohort has skewed toward the Democratic Party, creating anxiety and soul-searching among the Republicans. Young voters tend to become imprinted with the political party they first vote for. Among the so-called millennial generation, the skew to the Democrats is strong in general but overwhelming when it comes to Asian-Americans, for example.

The children of the foreign-born are succeeding in their aspirations. According to a 2013 Pew Research study that profiled the 20 million children of immigrants who have now reached adulthood, they are outpacing their parents in college degrees, household income, and home ownership. The generation of Indians that we represent quickly shed the anxiety of assimilation – at least we thought so – but this new generation’s anxiety is about being too successful at the game. Some universities are having to confront suspicions about an Asian quota (heatedly discussed in a recent Times discussion). Such a quota probably doesn’t exist. The most prestigious colleges have embraced an influx of Asian students. CalTech is typical, reporting that their freshman class in 2008 – last summer’s graduates – was 40% Asian, compared with a total U.S population that is only 4% Asian. The number has only increased, so that the brilliant home-schooled Asian kid has even become a stereotype.

Are “they” taking over, or will this new slice of “us” be the most useful immigrants ever, taking care of an aging population, doing the menial jobs that no one else wants, competing in technology with China, lowering the age of our workforce compared with Europe, Russia, and Japan, and in the end swinging national politics leftward in the direction of social justice? We can only surmise. But it was poignant to attend a recent charity event where young Indian-Americans were asked to help the poor in India. They gave lavishly, with tears in their eyes, and more than one said, “I never had any idea that things were like that over there.” Our amnesia has become theirs, except that they have nothing to forget.

* * *

Borotherhood cover1Deepak Chopra, MD, FACP, is the author of more than 70 books with twenty-one New York Times Bestsellers in both fiction and non-fiction. Chopra is the Founder of The Chopra Foundation, co-author with Sanjiv Chopra, Brotherhood: Dharma, Destiny and the American Dream

Sanjiv Chopra, MD, MACP is professor of medicine and faculty dean for Continuing Education at Harvard Medical School, and author of  seven books including, Leadership by Example: The Ten Key Principles of All Great Leaders.

www.deepakchopra.com

Follow Deepak on Twitter

Deepak Chopra: “Immigration Is Us,” an American Story (Part 1)

Lady Liberty By Deepak Chopra and Sanjiv Chopra

When you hear the word immigrant, what conjures up in your mind? Is it illegal vs. legal immigrants, contentious debates over immigration reform, or the Arizona lawman, Joe Arpaio, who styles himself as “America’s toughest Sheriff?” Chances are that most people are not aware of the fact that nearly one of every four Americans – 70 million – is an immigrant or the child of parents who came from abroad.

Immigrants come to America for a number of reasons: To escape persecution, to get post-graduate training, to enter the work force and have a better future for themselves and their children. Immigrants have made seminal contributions in academia, business, entrepreneurship, innovation, and in groundbreaking scientific discoveries. In 1906, 30% of all U.S. Nobel laureates were foreign born. The percentage has been as high as 39% in the 1950’s.

America is an immigrant country, but the American identity isn’t an immigrant identity. These two ideas contradict each other. Many of the thorny issues involved in immigration reform get stuck because of that. One kind of immigration (arriving long ago) makes you more American than the other kind of immigration (arriving recently). There is social pressure to forget your old identity and assimilate quickly, yet even if you succeed at this, forced amnesia has its price in loneliness and anxiety over belonging to no country at all.

As first generation immigrants, we have gone through the process of willed amnesia. We were lucky to arrive in the ’70s, when the Vietnam War caused a doctor shortage. We had medical degrees in hand, and there was a community of Indian doctors in Boston that we fit into while making the transition to “real” Americans. So it’s troubling that the country seems to be more hostile and suspicious toward immigrants of every sort, including those who earn university degrees here but are not allowed to get work without returning to their home countries first.

After 9/11, and with the dramatic rise in illegal workers from Mexico, the case for immigrants feels like guilty until proven innocent. One’s heart sank when the two Boston bombers turned out to fit the stereotype of angry Muslim males who hated the country that had given them asylum. One’s heart rose when the New York Times reports on a study showing that the health costs for illegal immigrants is less than the cost of caring for a native-born person. (Of course, giving medical care to undocumented immigrants is largely a subsidized venture and a burden on the whole healthcare system – no one can deny that.)

But, then, prejudices about the undocumented as freeloaders aren’t going to change simply by airing the facts. Guilty until proven innocent holds too much sway even if you arrived legally. To be really successful at turning into an amnesiac, the best tactic is to be born the child of immigrants. Your parents will have worked so hard to disguise their foreign roots that you have a good chance of not knowing they exist.

Assimilation is ambivalent, a happy/sad, win/lose affair. It could hardly be otherwise. At the present moment, during one of America’s periodic waves of hostility toward immigrants, we are suspect outsiders. The animus of toxic nativism is doubly ironic. Those casting suspicion must first forget that they themselves came from immigrant stock, while the accused must work as hard as possible to agree with their accusers that forgetting where you came from, as fast as possible, is your only defense.

Community hospitals were anxious about staffing, and so an active outreach began – foreign doctors were made to feel desirable. Not that India wanted us to go. Deepak had to travel to Sri Lanka and Sanjiv to Hong Kong to take the necessary qualifying test to come to the U.S. since India had banned it. We were allowed to take only a few hundred dollars in currency with us. When we arrived here, the jobs existed, as promised, but the welcome was more a push/pull. American-born doctors were suspicious of anyone with foreign training. Deepak’s first appearance in print was a letter to the Boston Globe protesting a prejudice against Indian physicians that became stronger in the ’80s once Vietnam was over and the doctor shortage a thing of the past.

Stay tuned for part 2!

* * *

Borotherhood cover1Deepak Chopra, MD, FACP, is the author of more than 70 books with twenty-one New York Times Bestsellers in both fiction and non-fiction. Chopra is the Founder of The Chopra Foundation, co-author with Sanjiv Chopra, Brotherhood: Dharma, Destiny and the American Dream

Sanjiv Chopra, MD, MACP is professor of medicine and faculty dean for Continuing Education at Harvard Medical School, and author of  seven books including, Leadership by Example: The Ten Key Principles of All Great Leaders.

www.deepakchopra.com

Follow Deepak on Twitter

The One Superpower You Can Activate Anytime, Anywhere

Some superheroes wear capes and masks, crested unitards, and holsters filled with magical tools. But there’s another kind of superhero. The kind that wears smocked dresses with patent leather Mary Janes, grass stained jeans, and Red Sox caps.

My kids are the latter kind. At least I’ve always told them so. When they were tiny I’d tell them that they were born with a superpower: the power to make people feel good by showing kindness and forgiveness, the power to end sadness by sharing their toys and offering a helping hand. If they ever doubted the strength of their powers, I’d say, “Go on and test it out. See that little boy crying by the monkey bars? Ask him if he’s okay. Use your superpowers to see if you can make him feel better.” And they would. And they’d be convinced. “See? That’s the power of compassion!”

One day ages ago I was at a splash park with my daughter and her friend. The girls were whispering and pointing at a woman across the water wearing a beige burqa, black gloves, and purple Merrells. Her face was veiled, just her eyes were visible. Those eyes were focused intently on her baby girl splashing playfully and wildly in the same pool as my crew.

“I’m afraid of her. She’s a stranger,” said my daughter’s wide-eyed friend, laying eyes on a fully covered Muslim woman for the first time.

“No, no, she’s not scary. Let’s go say hi to her and she won’t be a stranger anymore.” The girls looked at me like I was totally insane. They resisted and skidded as I grabbed their rigid slippery hands and sloshed across the puddles. As we approached, the Muslim woman was chatting on her cell phone.

I waved at her and wrinkled my eyebrows apologetically, “Would you mind if I interrupted your phone call to ask a question?”

She looked a little surprised but smiled at me with her eyes and hung up her phone, “Oh yes, is everything okay?”

“My daughter and her friend were feeling a little afraid of you because of your burqa, and I wanted them to meet you.”

“Come! Come!” she beckoned with one gloved hand. She pulled the veil away from her nose and leaned into the girls. They peeked down her dress (as did I) and admired her gorgeous face. “I only wear this when I’m outside. But when I’m at home I wear anything I want. I wear my hair long, I wear make up. My favorite color is pink. What’s yours?”

“Purple and turquoise and orange and yellow. And pink,” said one girl.

“Rainbow and pink,” said the other.

“Come and talk to me anytime. Don’t be afraid. I’m a mom just like your mom.”

The girls asked a few intrusive questions, as kids do, and I thanked her as we splashed away, figuring out which superpowers we’d just activated.

“The power of friendliness!” my daughter shouted, bounding over a shooting stream of cold water.

“The power of fearlessness!” I cheered.

“The power of pink!” laughed her friend.

Then we extended our list of superhero garb to include bathing suits, aqua socks, and burqas.

The Mom Who Stood Up to the London Knife Attackers

screengrab-mom-editedWednesday’s grisly murder of a British soldier by two knife-wielding attackers has left many wondering – Why? How? In broad daylight? With witnesses standing all around?

Many sources are referring to the incident as an act of “terrorism,” reporting that the men may have been motivated by radical Islamic sentiments. As with all so-called religious terrorists, only a heinous misreading and distortion of sacred texts will lead to such violence. And this incident appears to be no different. The murderers remained on the scene even the attack, their hands bloodied and clutching knives and meat cleavers, waiting to confront the police forces that would arrive some 20 minutes later. In that interim, 48-year-old Ingrid Loyau-Kennett, a mom and cub scout leader, quickly got off her bus in order to aid the dying soldier. “Being a cub leader I have my first aid,” Loyau-Kennett told reporters. “So when I saw this guy on the floor I thought it was an accident. Then I saw the guy was dead and I could not feel any pulse.”

Then she noticed the man with the knives approaching her, telling her to step away from the body, and she took stock of the situation she’d just stepped into. Instead of running or breaking down as many might have done, the woman calmly confronted the man in the hope of de-escalating the situation. Here’s how she describes the exchange, as reported by the National Post:

I asked him if he did it and he said yes and I said why? And he said because he [the dead man] has killed Muslim people in Muslim countries.

He said he was a British soldier and I said: ‘Really?’ And he said: ‘I killed him because he killed Muslims and I am fed up with people killing Muslims in Afghanistan. They have nothing to do there.’

He was not high, he was not on drugs, he was not an alcoholic or drunk. He was just distressed, upset. He was in full control of his decisions and ready to do everything he wanted to do.

I said: ‘Right, now it is only you versus many people, you are going to lose, what would you like to do?’ He said: ‘I would like to stay and fight.’

Watch Loyau-Kennett describe her experience in an interview with The Guardian:




Loyau-Kennett wasn’t the only one to step in. A witness reported another young woman and her mother supporting the soldier who lay dying. The mother reportedly held the man’s hand as he passed away, bravely paying more heed to the victim than to the attackers who were of course still in the vicinity.

The scene ended in gun shots, with the police immobilizing the two murderers before taking them into custody. But the courageous women who put their lives in danger to help the dying soldier and calm the belligerent attackers go down in this story as true heroes. It is so heartening to know that in moments of real crisis, some individuals will step up in the spirit of peace and community solidarity.

Image source: Twitter

20 Photos of Iranian Men Dressed in Drag to Support Gender Equality (Slideshow!)

Earlier in April, police in the Kurdish province of Marivan, Iran paraded a convicted criminal around the streets dressed in women’s clothing as a form of public humiliation. The episode outraged men and women throughout the area – not over the gender reversal in itself, but rather because femininity was being equated to shame and punishment.

Thus launched the “Kurd Men for Equality” campaign on Facebook, in which men began posting photos of themselves dressed in women’s garb with the caption, “Being a woman is not a way for humiliation or punishment.” Seventeen members of Iran’s parliament also signed a petition against this form of punishment, saying it was “humiliating to Muslim women.”

This comes from a part of the world where dress codes are strictly enforced according to conventional gender norms, which makes the campaign all the more impressive. Here are some of the quotes the men have posted on Facebook along with their photos:

Hoping for the day that sexuality, gender will not be a way of evaluating humanity.

“Woman” means “life”.

We should gather together and condemn this stupidity, brutality and inhumanity against women. This is the least I can do to support women.

Disgracing Kurdish women is disgracing an international community. Women are mothers, sisters, and life partners.

There lies such sanctity in woman’s clothing that not every man deserves to wear one.

Support the “Kurd Men for Equality” campaign by liking them on Facebook and sharing their story!

Extreme Devotion: Does baby tossing ritual cross the line?

What is the most “extreme” thing you’ve done for your faith?

If, for example, you alter your body in some way or fast for days on end, that’s one thing. Once you involve someone else in your devotion, though, things start to get fuzzy. In this week’s episode of “Holy Facts” on The Chopra Well, Gotham Chopra explores some of more extreme spiritual practices around the world, including a particularly alarming festival involving babies.

In this 700 year old tradition, practiced every year in Karnataka, India by Hindus and Muslims alike, parents hand their infants over to priests, who swing the youngsters back and forth before dropping them 30 feet off of a balcony. Men standing below hold a blanket taut in which to catch the screaming babies before returning them to their mothers. Devotees believe the ritual to bring the babies prosperity and good health, though children’s rights organizations around the world decry the practice as “barbaric.” And it seems a rather life-threatening thing to do for the sake of “health.”

Screen Shot 2013-02-15 at 11.37.36 AMApart from the perhaps obvious problem with dropping babies off of balconies, there’s also the issue of forcing one’s devotion on another person. Is it okay for one person to engage another in their extreme and dangerous act of devotion, particularly if that other person is an innocent baby with no autonomy and no way of consenting? Maybe parents know what’s best for their children, physically and spiritually, but it would be interesting to get the baby’s perspective, especially when his or her life depends on a bunch of men with a blanket 30 feet below.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments section below!

Subscribe to The Chopra Well to stay posted on more strange and amazing episodes on “Holy Facts”!

Chicago Sun-Times – Ahmed Rehab: Hate crimes in a class of their own

 

http://www.ahmedrehab.com/2009/11/hate-crimes-in-a-class-of-their-own/

In a recent column, Richard Roeper argued that pulling a Muslim woman’s headscarf may be mean, but it’s not a hate crime.

Fortunately, the law doesn’t criminalize being “mean” (how on Earth would that be defined anyway?)

What the law does do, however, is define a battery. Battery is intentional, unpermitted contact causing harm or offense by one person against another. That’s what Valerie Kenney did when she tried to pull off a Muslim woman’s headscarf at a Jewel in Tinley Park. Moreover, when a person commits such an offense because of hatred towards the victim because of their race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, etc., it becomes a hate crime. In other words, battery is one thing, battery based on bigotry is another.

Hate crimes are their own class of crime for a very good reason: The enhanced classification and punishment deters people from criminally acting out on their bigotry. It is the government’s obligation to its citizens to take a no-tolerance position on such crimes.

As for Kenney, I am confident that the justice system will determine the appropriate punishment for her. Though three years in jail and up to $25,000 is the maximum sentence, it’s not the only sentence option available. Our justice system entrusts judges and juries to make the fairest determination in light of the facts.

 

Chicago Tribune, Huffington Post – Ahmed Rehab: Miss USA scrutiny indicates weird obsession with Islam

 http://www.ahmedrehab.com/2010/05/miss-usa-scrutiny-indicates-weird-obsession-with-islam/

Why must a Muslim person’s faith come up the moment that person breaks through the mainstream in any conceivable way – regardless of relevance or context?

And why does it invariably end up linking that person through multiple degrees of separation to terrorism?

The fact that even a Miss USA could not be spared this exercise in futility puts away any remaining doubt that there is a segment of America that is suffering from a bizarre and unhealthy obsession with Islam.

 

Diverse examples abound:

When Dubai Ports World won a contract to manage six US seaports in 2006, US Lawmakers rushed to invalidate the deal. Their objections essentially came down to the shocking discovery that Dubai was an “Islamic” country (even as they bore no qualms about billions of dollars in US business contracts going the other way). Of no weight was the more relevant fact that the Dubai Ports World is one of the most reputable operators in its industry.

And when Mazen Asbahi was appointed as the Obama campaigns liaison to the Muslim community in 2008, the Wall Street Journal riled up just enough “guilt by association” terrorism-related controversy against the clean-as-a-whistle Asbahi to force him to resign only a few days into his post.

Most recently, when Dr. Parvez Ahmed was nominated for Jacksonville’s Human Rights Commission, the established humanitarian was smeared with “ties to terrorism.” He subsequently faced a torrent of abuse (including one commissioner’s request that he demonstrates to the commission how he prays to his God) before eventually being confirmed.

The fact that Muslims who aspire to prominence in business, political, and service circles routinely face special scrutiny as a result of their faith is alarming. The fact that Muslims involved in the banality of looking good would not be spared similar scrutiny is comical – in a sad sort of way of course.

And yet just one day after Rima Fakih, an Arab-American Lebanese Muslim from Michigan won the Miss USA pageant, her faith took center stage, and sure enough, some found a way to “link” her to terrorism.

AOL News, no less, led the foray with the provocative title, “Controversy Swirls Around Miss USA Winner.” They quote right-wing blogger Debbie Schlussel who tells us that Miss USA has “many relatives” who are terrorists and that “a Hezbollah supporter helped bankroll her pageant run.”

“It’s a sad day in America but a very predictable one, given the politically correct, Islamo-pandering climate in which we’re mired,” she says.

As paranoid as Schlussel sounds, this was in fact a sanitized version of the original Islamophobic, foul-mouth tirade found on her blog under the flattering title, “Hezbollah’s American Sharmuta” (whore in Arabic).

Fox & Friends host Gretchen Carlson also blamed “political correctness” as the culprit in Fakih’s victory. “Did the Muslim-American win because of the whole PC society that we find ourselves in,” she wonders.

Another conservative blogger, Michelle Malkin lamented that “Fakih’s cheerleaders are too busy tooting the identity politics horn to care what comes out of her mouth,” while neo-conservative blogger, Daniel Pipes, argued that this and five other recent Muslim beauty pageant winners in the West indicate “an odd form of affirmative action.” Other articles questioned whether Muslims would celebrate or bemoan a Muslim Miss USA. The fact is, just like the 58 winners before her, Rima Fakih’s faith has absolutely nothing to do with her beauty.

Rima is just another American girl who pursued a personal dream. The fact that she happens to be Muslim is completely irrelevant to the story. She should neither be hailed as a Muslim hero, nor made into a punching bag for anti-Muslim haters. That her religion is even brought up is only indicative of how far our unhealthy obsession with this age-old global faith and its adherents has gone.

Future Muslim spelling bee champions, beware.

 

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