In the name of national security, many Americans are calling for ethnic profiling of those deemed most likely to commit an act of terror. They suggest that it is in the national interest to recognize that people with a certain ‘ethnicity’ should be held suspect. The media pundits insist we should all take a second look at certain kind of folks that might try to ‘fly while Arab.’Never mind that not a single American citizen of any ethnicity was involved in the war crime that was perpetrated in New York City.
As an Arab-American, I am certain that I will be subject to ethnic profiling for many years to come. I am not one of the ‘Fortunate’ Arab Americans with names like Jimmy, Greco-Roman looks and Boston accents. My name is Ahmed, I look like the average Egyptian and I have a mildly exotic accent. Of course, I could change my name to Armando, move to Los Angeles and look up the name of the doctor who has been working on Michael Jackson’s ethnic profile. But, I won’t. I am resigned to living with ethnic profiling.
In the national interest, I want my fellow Americans to go ahead and profile me. Do it at the Airport. If I register at a motel on the Oregon Coast, call it in to the local cops. When you see me at the supermarket, inspect what I buy, and ask yourself why? Check my bags in customs with extra care. Tattoo a national security card on my forehead, if you must. If you are going to profile me based on my ethnicity, make sure you do a decent job of it. By that, I mean that once I pass your little ‘ethnic profile’ test, give me a wink and a pat on the back and let me know I passed your test. Whatever you do, don’t let us part company without a little exchange on why it was all so necessary.
Oh yes and before you forget, make sure you ethnically profile me before you read on. But you have already done that, haven’t you? When I have had the occasional article published in the mainstream press, I was always identified as representing an ‘Arab-American’ view. Fair enough. In the national interest, go ahead and ethically profile every word I write.
But do me a huge favor, how about a little bit of attention to the ethnic profile of the other guys in the infotainment business. You know what I mean. I mean Sulzberger, Rupert Murdoch, William Safire, Thomas Friedman, Ted Kopel, Wolf Blitzer, . Larry King and all the other Sharon loving Israel Firsters who have consistently aligned themselves with the notorious war criminal butcher of Qibya and Sabra and Shatila.
Please ethnically profile my writing. Find one word of praise in my writings for Bin Laden or the Taliban. Don’t knock yourself out, it will be a fruitless search. Now, go and look at how the New York Times and CNN and FOX have licked the boots of a mass murderer like Ariel Sharon. Even now, they shamelessly market Israel as the only ‘democracy’ in the Middle-East. From the Jordan River to the Mediterranean sea, four million native Palestinians live under draconian murderous military rule. Yet these moral morons, our mass media titans, have no qualms about it. They write of the assault on our liberties, without an ounce of shame for a life time of work in assailing the lives, liberties and freedom of the Palestinians.
While we are at this game, lets do some ethnic profiling of our lobbyists. Perhaps in this time of national tribulation, we should pass laws to prevent any American from lobbying on behalf of a foreign government. The English don’t seem to need a huge lobby to convince us that they are our loyal allies, neither do the Canadians or the Italians or the Australians. That is a job best left to foreign embassies. Perhaps it is time to merge the Israeli lobby with the Israeli embassy. Down size this lobby, now.
If, in the national interest, we must now resort to ethnic profiling our fellow Americans, let us at least be consistent and fair about it. Let us leverage our much vaunted multi-ethnicity. We need to hear all the voices of America; Jews and Arabs, Turks and Afghans, Black. White, Hispanic, Asian and Native American. We need to hear from the religious and the agnostic. let us hear all their voices. But let us not shrink from measuring the weight of ethnicity on our sources of information and opinions. Do not shy from considering my ‘Arab’ ethnicity when you read my words. But, if a media pundit sounds like an ‘Israel Firster’, consider his ethnicity too. And ask yourself, what the world would be like today, if we had taken the time to hear all the voices of a multiethnic America.
Surly the catastrophe of 911 is an emergency demanding drastic measures, including ethnic profiling. It is not enough for us to think outside the box, we need a whole new box and we must think hard while we are building it. This is a time of elevated danger and unbelievable opportunity. If an American journalist, of any ethnicity, publicly endorses war crimes or the slaughter of innocents, pay attention. Hold them accountable. And be certain of this truth. The Journalists and pundits who spent the summer covering Chandra and the sharks also spent the summer diverting your attention from real problems in the Middle East and elsewhere. Why trust them now?
We don’t need ‘terrorist’ experts, we need a foreign policy as good as America. If nothing else, the carnage in New York should wake us up to the fact that the dumbing of America is not funny or cute anymore. Indeed, it is dangerous to our national security. Those of us who have refused to digest the mass media drivel must educate our fellow Americans about the urgent need to consider alternative news sources. Turn to the English press, find out what Canadians think. Read a ‘neutral’ academic history book on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict or Afghanistan. Kill your TV. Or at least disconnect Cable TV as a protest against ‘hate television’. If you are too addicted to Cable, call your provider and tell them to disconnect FOX because you don’t like 24/7 KKK rallies beamed into your home. Its not healthy for your kids or your dogs. Reread some of your old books about Vietnam and the vanity of those who prolonged that agonizing chapter of American history. Ethnically profile the authors you read to be certain that you are getting a well balanced intellectual diet.
So, go ahead and let the ethnic profiling games begin. Just be reasonable about it.
Mr. Ahmed Amr is Editor of NileMedia.com in Seattle and a regular contributor to Media Monitors Network (MMN).