Friday, December 10, 2004

Arab American patriotism often ignored, Dec. 10, 2004

Arab American patriotism often ignored
Creators Syndicate, Friday Dec. 10, 2004
By Ray Hanania

Arab bashing is big business in America, and it’s very popular in the media.

On November 19th, when it was reported that an American soldier in Iraq had murdered at point-blank range and in cold blood an Iraqi prisoner, American superstar and radio talk show host Don Imus went on the air and denounced Arabs as "ragheads."

Notorious for his anti-Arab racism, in the past, Imus has called Palestinians "stinking animals," and the widow of the late President Yasser Arafat as "that fat pig of a wife."

Officials at MSNBC who carry Imus’ show said they were "sorry" if anyone was "offended" by his comments. I called Imus to ask how he felt about Jews, Blacks and other minorities, but the cowboy–hat wearing tough-guy didn’t have the courage to take my call.

Unfortunately, Imus is just a cheerleader in the tolerated rise of racism in this country. Unable to capture the people responsible for Sept. 11th, Americans have to blame someone. So we invade Iraq and take our anger out on innocent people.

Since Sept. 11th 14 people who "looked" Middle Eastern were murdered. Thousands of Arab Americans were physically assaulted or verbally abused. Scores of mosques and Arab churches have been burned or vandalized.

It doesn’t matter to Imus or his racist cohorts that most Arab Americans are patriotic.
Thousands, including my father and uncle, served during World War II. Currently, 3,500 Arab Americans serve in the U.S. Military, including in Iraq. One of those Arab Americans is David Roustum.

Roustum was an all-American. He was the captain of his football and hockey teams at Orchard Park High school in West Seneca, a suburb of Buffalo, New York. And he was patriotic in the truest sense of the word, enlisting in the Army National Guard 108th Infantry Division.

Initially, Roustum served as a member of the Military Forces Honor Guard, serving in 250 military funerals, before he was deployed to Iraq in March. The 108th Infantry Regiment, a part of the Arkansas National Guard's 39th Infantry Brigade, deployed to Iraq in support of the Fort Hood-based 1st Cavalry Division.

Roustum was in his final semester at the University of Buffalo when he was called to active duty in March of this year, following in the footsteps of an older brother, Daniel, who also served in Iraq.

Conflicted about the war and acting more as a concerned father than an unpatriotic American, Roustom’s Syrian-born father, Russ suggested he go to Syria to stay with relatives.

After all, not everyone’s sons or daughters volunteered to sacrifice their lives for this country’s foreign policy. Certainly not Mr. Imus or other members of the media or even the majority of the members of the U.S. Congress, for that matter.

David Roustum declined telling his father that he is proud to fight for America.

A few days before Thanksgiving, military officials called Russ and his wife Jennifer to say that Spc. David Roustum had been killed on Saturday, Nov. 20 in Baghdad during an ambush. Three of his colleagues were seriously wounded and their parents said that Roustum’s actions had saved their lives.

Imus wasn’t just slandering an Arab American. He was slandering all Americans. Imus owes the public more than just an apology. That he is still at his job is the real tragedy in this country.

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