Tuesday, March 08, 2005

How about freeing Arabs in America, too? 3-08-05

Arabs in America need freedom as much as Arabs in Middle East
Arab American Media Syndicate March 8, 2005
By Ray Hanania

Every week, as I write to expose the double-standards and hypocrisy of the American media, someone always emails me with this ignorant question: "How can you criticize the American media as anti-Arab when a mass circulation magazine like Newsweek features an Arab columnist?"

For the umpteenth time! Fareed Zakaria isn’t an Arab! I know he’s not an Arab, even without having to read his anti-Arab and less than accurate interpretations of Middle East events.

Of course, most Americans who read his feature this week which warns that the Arab World must take heed as the Arab street clamors for freedom, believe it must be so. After all, Zakaria would know. He’s an Arab, they're convinced.

He’s the same guy who wrote the misguided feature three weeks after Sept. 11 that pretty much defines how Americans view the Arab perspective on American policies, titled "Why do they hate us?"

Arabs don’t hate America. They object to America’s one-sided, unjust, illegal foreign policies, especially with regard to Israel. But because Zakaria isn't Arab, he wouldn't know that.

Zakaria’s writing isn’t inherently racist against Arabs as a culture, but it is inherently anti-Arab in ideology.

What Zakaria achieves is a false elevation of American Democracy. He ignores the obvious violation of Arab American rights that takes place everyday. And that only makes it easier to bash the Arab World. It's a charade.

Arabs in the Middle East and Arabs in America are both denied freedoms, but just in different ways.

In the Arab World (and in many non-Arab countries supported by the United States), dissidents can be jailed or murdered. In America, the oppression is more subtle, more clever and more far more effective.

The fact is that the cause of a dissident will grow if they are murdered or jailed. But in America, a worse fate awaits dissidents because in America, the media and communications are the power, not freedom or Democracy. If your access to the mainstream media is zero or negligible, and you can’t get to the microphones of the TV and radio talk shows, you might as well be dead.

As long as people think Zakaria is the "new Arab," this won’t change.

In America, Arab journalists can’t even hint at allegations of human rights abuses by American soldiers in Iraq, unless and until an American journalist has brought the issue to the forefront.
And even when that happens, the stories are portrayed as "isolated incidents." Otherwise, why isn’t everyone reporting it and clamoring for justice?

American military and government leaders are quick to denounce the practices at the Abu Gharib prison and at Iraqi checkpoints, yet those practices continue none-the-less.

But the most egregious suppression of freedom occurs when Zakaria and others ignore the failures of American Democracy by ignoring Western involvement in the policies that created the dictatorships that rule the Middle East and most Third World countries.

Fact: It was the post World War I West that drew the lines creating nations in the Middle East and handpicked the puppets who would mature to be the world’s worst tyrants. That tyranny is directly responsible for contributing to the rise of today's extremism.

Yes. Every country on the list cited by Zakaria in Newsweek March 14, 2005 as failing to meet the minimal standards of freedom are regimes that at one time or another were creations of the West and today rely on American support to remain in power.

To Zakaria, an Arab country is fine as long as it abides by America’s rules. Syria and Libya are bad. Jordan and Egypt are okay. Let’s see where the price of oil takes us before we make final judgments on Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States we helped create.

Driving a part of this is the cause of Israel. The more you accept Israel, the more you are moved away from the "Axis of Evil" and into the sphere of "moving towards freedom." Just look at the Freedom House survey that Zakaria cited in his recent Newsweek feature which talks about the "repression of the Arab World" as if it doesn’t occur right here at home.

Making it worse, is the overall ignorance of the American media and the American public itself, which gets most of its understanding of the Arab World from Hollywood movies and novels that cast Arabs as the primary evil characters.

The majority of Muslims in American are non-Arab. Only 22 percent in fact are Arab. And, about half of all the Arabs in America are Christian, not Muslim. Those facts might undermine the American methodology of denying civil rights and freedoms to Arabs in America.

The facts are this. The United States military is engaged in widespread human rights violations here and abroad. Rather than freeing Iraqis, they are imprisoning them in a system controlled by the United States. You oppose it, you disappear.

The American media just goes along embedded not only in the ranks of the American military occupation but in the ideology of the American military occupation and the inherent "I hate Arabs" mentality of American foreign policy.

How do I know this? Because I watch the only truly free media in America. Al-Jazeera. Pictures don’t lie. The American media, though, does.


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