Sunday, April 22, 2007

Disturbed by persecution of Azmi Bishara

Azmi Bishara, like all "Arab citizens" of Israel, is the victim of persecution and discrimination. He has the right to criticize, challenge and try to change the government in which he has worked. But the pressure and persecution that has forced him to resign from the Knesset proves that the Israeli Democracy is a failure and that Arab citizens are not citizens at all.

Here's the YnetNews story:,7340,L-3390826,00.html

It's tragic because there are extremists in Israel and Bishara's experience proves they exist and are a real threat to peace, just as there are extremists among Palestinians. Regardless of his political views, Bishara has every right to express hiw views without having to fear persecution in Israel.

It's a blow to peace and empowers the fanatics in Israel -- and among the Palestinians -- to push harder to destroy each other.

It makes it harder for those like me who support two-states, believe in the hope that is the foundation of the Palestinians and Israelis, to believe that two-states or any solution besides continued conflict is an option.

Ray Hanania

Friday, April 13, 2007

The truth about the "Don Imus" Affair: It's not about race but about the unfair of "free speech"

The truth about the "Don Imus Affair"
By Ray Hanania

The Don Imus controversy is not really about the limits of free speech as some are contending, but rather about the discrepancies in how "freedoms" such as free speech are tolerated for some in America but not for others.

These discrepancies are based not on merit but solely on the basis of race, stereotypes and a mainstream society of plagued by the ugliness of America’s unbalanced racial realities.

I enjoyed seeing the Don Imus empire collapse in such utter humiliation. Why? Well, I am Arab American who is most often mistaken for a Muslim.

I disliked Don Imus passionately and am celebrating in his demise. I’d like to see a handful of other American media bigots tumble down along the same ugly path including anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bigots like Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and others like them.

But is the issue curtailing free speech? No. Because free speech is more free for some than it is for others in America.

Those who have enjoyed free speech as unrestrained and as viciously as Imus has, deserve to be judged by a tougher standard of morality.

Those who come from communities who are excluded from the mainstream media, denied equal rights of expression not just in principle but more because of the practice of media exclusion have more flexibility in how they may express themselves.

The freer you have been to disparage people who do not have the same ability to respond to the attacks, the less your right of free speech, in my opinion.

The more you have been a victim of hate speech, the more you have the right of flexibility in what you can say.

Imus and others like him have made sport of Arabs and Muslims, blaming an entire race and religion for the actions of a few fanatics. The horrors of today’s terrorism has been used to rip away the Constitutional protections from a race of people, I believe because they were never popular in this country to begin with.

Most Americans hated Arabs and Muslims long before 19 Saudi Arabian hijackers commandeered four airplanes and crashed them into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania.

Should Imus have been fired for the three words he uttered. As an Arab American who watched and listened helplessly as Imus ranted, slandered, insulted and defamed Arabs and Muslims relentlessly, never giving us the opportunity to respond.

Am I glad he is fired? Absolutely. Was it fair? No.

But fairness has nothing to do with this not because I say so, but because Imus rose to fame on the basis of an unfair system anyway.

In other words Imus rose in popularity to host one of the nation’s premier syndicated radio shows that was also broadcast on an important and high profile Cable Network because 2.5 million people cheered on his rants against Arabs and a select few others in America, mostly Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Arabs, Muslims and even some Jews.

He rose not because of talent, but because his message of hatred, disguised as "satire," defended wrongly as humor, was popular among a growing class of Americans who look down on other ethnic groups. Imus was not popular because minorities loved him. Imus was popular because Whites in mainstream America loved him.

Therefore, his fall from the pinnacle of that mountain of discrimination is justified to be brought down not on the merits of whether what he said was right or wrong, but because just as 2.5 million people can elevate him to popular radio and TV host status, 10 million mostly minorities, Blacks, Asians and Hispanics, and Arabs, have the right to bring him down.

Defenders of Don Imus offer the ridiculous contention that he is the victim of free speech hypocrisy.

Imus merely said in one moment what some African American hip-hop artists, comedians and other entertainers say all the time, endlessly.

But the difference is that Imus directed his comments against individuals of another race. The African American members of a basketball team.

The Black rappers and hip-hop artists are saying things are that considered distasteful to many Americans, but they are almost always speaking about their own experiences of the environments in which they have lived.

There are whores in this world and the fact is they come in all colors and races and religions. If rap artists of one race, African American or even White, want to write lyrics that address that reality of their lives and experience, they have every right to do so even if someone, a majority of Americans, find their comments distasteful.

They can use the term "hos" because it is about what they see around them. Don Imus was not talking about himself, his experience or even trying to make a social statement about the relevance of "whores" in American society when he described 8 African American basketball players as "nappy haired hos."

He made the comments because that is how White Don Imus viewed eight Black women playing basketball who had tattoos and looked "tough."

There is a difference when you laugh at some one, as racist do, or laugh with someone, as true comedians and satirists do all the time. Black comedians joke about their stereotypes and they have every right to do so.

Don Imus, a White man, has no right to lampoon the stereotypes of Black people.

White people are not under the foot of a new more sophisticated form of racism. Blacks and other minorities are.

At the very bottom of the hatred that is the foundation of some in American, sit Arabs and Muslims. As heavy as the burden is upon our heads, we can find the room to celebrate in the demise of Don Imus, and we will do so with gusto!

(Ray Hanania is an award winning Palestinian American columnist, author and standup comedian. He can be reached at

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Found a new home at Blog site

Blogging at one of the Middle East's top sites Current mood: Couldn't be happier!

I am excited because I have been invited to blog with some of the brightest and best writers in the Middle East at blog and eZine. This site is one of the highest ranked Middle East blogs on the Internet, according to Technorati. Although I am far from young (in my 50s, folks), I have the mind of a five year old. And they make 5 year olds pretty darn smart these days.

Anyway, my generation's 50 is my dad's generation's 20. Let's face it, I doubt that anyone my age when I was a kid had the same kind of sense of humor and positive perpsective on Middle East life. I loved my dad, but I just couldn't remember him having a powerful sense of humor.

He had a powerful sense of justice, fairness, ethics and morality, but humor and comedy was not one of his strong suits.

So, I'm off on a new adventure with some great young writers and I urge you to visit and read their writings. They are fresh, young and not jaded like many Arabs and Israelis and people from the Middle East my age. Their approach to the Middle East is reasoned, moderate and passioned. Whether you agree with them or not is besides the point. Reading their writings -- and hopefully mine also, will only help broaden your own understanding of the tough issues the people of the Middle East face, including our youth.

Here's the link:

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Monday, April 09, 2007

FIRE that fat pig of a radio talk show host Don Imus

Imus controversy shows power, not morality, defines racial limits in America
By Ray Hanania

It isn’t enough that Don Imus is the ugliest man to host a TV show.

Imus, the syndicated radio talk show host whose program is broadcast on MSNBC, the NBC Network affiliate, also happens to be one of the nation’s most outrageous racists and bigots.

Imus is always slandering someone, and some how because his show generates profits, and he is popular among mainstream White audiences, he can get away with it.

But Imus may have met his match when he went too far slandering Black people this week.

In referring to the Rutgers woman’s basketball team, Imus called the eight Black women members "nappy-haired hos" who have tattoos.

Immediately, the giants of the African American community, the Rev. Al Sharpton and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, demanded that Imus be fired, that his syndicated radio show be dropped and that NBC cancel his MSNBC TV simulcast.

Of course, none of the demands were met because Imus is White. He speaks with a Southern drawl, is so ugly he could be a legitimate target of criticism himself, and he has a track record of slandering everyone.

Not White people, of course, unless they happen to be Democrats.

Why do we tolerate bigots like Imus?

Today’s America is not the same America that it was in the 1960s when it was fashionable to openly slander Black people and minorities. Whole neighborhoods changed from White to Black all because a Black family moved into the community.

The suburbs were born not just out of post-World War II efforts to help returning veterans buy cheap homes, but to also create a haven that was too expensive for Black people and other people of color to move.

America hasn’t become less racist today. America has just become more sophisticated about its racist tendencies.

You can hate Blacks and other people of color in America, as long as oyu don’t say it publicly.

You can fire people of color from their jobs, as long as you are smart about it and find other reasons to dismiss Black and Hispanic and Arab employees. You can discriminate against women, as long as you are not open about it.

In fact, racism is alive and well in America, just as long as the racists don’t get crazy and express their hatred openly, as Don Imus did on his widely broadcast radio and TV show that is listened to by millions of Americans, almost all of them White.

Maybe Imus and other racists are just too comfortable inn today’s world of sophisticated racist hatred.

Maybe Imus knows that the only color that counts in this country besides White is Green. The holy dollar. Profits decide the line of morality in America, not principle.

MSNBC is making a fortune broadcasting the Don Imus show and it is going to take a lot more than Rev. Sharpton and Rev. Jackson to call for his firing. Why? Because most Black people don’t listen to Imus.

So at the end of the day, MSNBC won’t see a drop in their revenues.

Advertisers will keep buying their ads on the Don Imus show because their market isn’t Black people. It’s White people, the audience that Imus commands every morning.

Don Imus should have been fired years ago. But he hasn’t been fired.

And that fact alone proves that as long as you are White and you make a fortune for oyur sponsors, you can rant and rave against any minority group, any minority religion, any minority ethnic group.

As long as your audiences loves it and doesn’t complain.

And listen to the complaints against Don Imus.

In case you haven’t figured it out, it’s not his audience calling for Imus to be fired. White leaders are not calling press conferences to demand that Imus be fired.

It’s Black leaders. Leaders of color. Columnists like me whose skin color isn’t quite White enough in this country – my skin color is Olive, one of the colors not even favored among the coalition of the minorities in this country.

So Imus will apologize, as he has done, in one of the most arrogant ways I have ever heard someone contritely thumb his nose at the public.

Imus said on his show Monday morning, days after his racist, bigoted and hateful remarks were broadcast to millions of people in America:

"Here's what I've learned: that you can't make fun of everybody, because some people don't deserve it," Imus said.

Is that what you learned, Don Imus? That you can make fun of some, but not everybody because "some people" don’t deserve it and apparently "some people" do.

Don Imus should be fired immediately.

Anything less would be an insult to Americans who do believe that this is a great country of principle, justice and fairness for all.