The United States: Two Souls, Perhaps; One Heart, for Sure

Anti-Americanism and discussions on the Arab/Israel conflict go hand in hand, and this is to be expected. Historically the United States has played a role in the Middle East region, not only in Palestine, that even in the eyes of many of its own people is shameful. Whereas many lay the sole blame on the United States for the present situation, and sees its role in the Middle East as the primary cause for the current violence and political disarray that is presently visiting Palestine, others see it quiet differently, and feel that if there is blame, there is enough to go around, and so lets hold everyone accountable, even the pro-Arafat, and pro-Oslo, pro Mid-east “government” pundits who feel that the United States, particularly the present U.S. President, George W. Bush, should somehow shoulder this bla! me alone.

Defending the United States against its detractors when it comes to the Middle East is not easy, and it’s not a popular thing to do, yet, if as many pretend, we are looking for solutions, and not seeking to exploit and take advantage of the Palestinian/ Israeli conflict to empower ourselves, or in pursuit of or own personal agendas, or to push the agendas of others, we should be honest, and most of all, we should be fair. If we are going to blame the United States, it hardly seems right to single out George W. Bush, who has been in office little more than a year, and who campaigned for office, not according to Zionists, or Christian fundamentalists positions. George W. Bush was the first presidential candidate, or President, who said to many moans and groans, from the left and right, that the United State! s should have a fair and balanced policy in the Middle East, and from the view here in the United States, it looks as though he is, and has been trying to accomplish that. No easy task, particularly since the September 11th attacks, and the exploitation that became commonplace following the attacks. We have Israel on the one hand, crying that we must fight the Islamic movement and the Arab governments, if we want to root out terror and have peace, pro-PLO on the another hand, who likes to pit the United States against Israel, the Islamic movement and anybody else it can think of, including our President, hoping to distract attention from the PA, and Clinton era failures that contributed to the current crisis, and Arab government complicity in that failure, and we have the Zionists and Christian religious fanatics who are waiting to gather and be raptured, and that want the United States to help set the stage for the gathering. The Islamic movement is the only play! er who hasn’t invoked September 11th as a cause for any particular U.S. action or position in the Middle East. Their position, both before and after the tragedy was that the United States must become more balanced in its approach, and take steps to moderate Israel’s response to the despair that had overcome the people of the occupied territories, and to work for Palestinian independence and statehood.

People who support corrupt dictators, and who feel that the Middle East governments are all victims of the “devil” United States, though professing a certain amount off political sophistication, come off sounding quite the opposite. The President of the United States is a representative of the people, and his constituents. If the Zionists, and the Christian fundamentalists have a disproportionate sway over public policy, its because they have organized and raised the necessary funds to make their voices heard and to push their agendas, that is how democracies work. The down side of democracy is that ignorant minorities can make life hell for silent majorities. The lessons that the American people are learning is that the majority must wake up and take their responsibility to their country and to the world! seriously, and become politically pro-active, if we hope to stave off those who don’t care about this country, even though they live here, and are citizens, and others, from the outside, who look naively at the United States as a country with a King, who is overseeing a population of rich, highly educated elites who are politically astute and active, and who are crying for the elimination of the poor Muslim or Arab masses in the Middle East so we can get all the oil; a myth that is perpetuated and exploited by the left, hoping to feed into and exploit Arab and Muslim anti-Americanism,  recognizing that most people in the Middle East have been inundated with leftist idealism to the extent that they perhaps see themselves as the masses of proletariats in conflict with a bourgeois United States; another myth.

For the most part, the American people don’t have a clue about our country’s behavior in the rest of the world, and seldom get the drift of what is going on until its time to send the boys, and now the girls too, off to defend someone in someplace that we have never even heard of.  Believe it or not, most Americans were shocked by the fact that anyone could hate the United States so much that they could resort to the attacks of September 11th. It was even more shocking that many people outside the United States, though they acknowledged that the attacks were wrong, felt that as a people, we deserved what we got, nearly 3000 innocent civilians dead in a day. No warning, no opportunity for diplomatic negotiations, no calls for reform, no appeal to the American people for assistance in resolving their grievances, nothing, just death and destruction, followed by further blame laying, and justification for what had taken place. If the United States took the positions, against our enemies that our enemies have taken against us, the world would be ashes, and of course, it would be our fault, since we are not viewed as a people entitled to consideration, justice, fair play, etc. We are to be hated, and blamed even though those who blame us most, show up regularly to feast from the U.S. taxpayer trough, distributing U.S. aid among themselves, living like kings, while their people languish in poverty and illiteracy, and look to the West with hatred, blaming the United States for their plight.

If you count up the dollars that leave the United States every year for the Middle East, and compare to it to what we get in return, factoring in the September 11th attacks, its easy to imagine that we have as much right to grievance as anyone else. The majority of taxpayers here work long hard hours for a living. Husbands and wives work long hours; sacrifice the right to have large families, early retirements, etc. We are at the front line of social experimentation in the world, and have suffered from many of the “isms” that other regions of the world were spared, as they looked West across the water and condemned and mocked us, as we were struggling, trying to figure out what went wrong here, in a country that also has strong religious traditions, not that distant from Islamic traditions. We ! were told to remove God from our public sensibilities, morality from our policies, and to forget the successes of our past, that were borne of our faith in God, family, and the rights of freemen and women, limited governments, private property rights, and all the other principles of republicanism upon which our nation was founded. We were told to exchange them with new sensitivities, and to focus on “economics.”  We were victimized by the same leftist secularism, and its emphasis on economic efficiency that impoverished the Middle East, with the full knowledge, help, and complicity of Middle East leaders, and that is now fighting a desperate battle against calls for political, social and economic reforms, hoping to keep its control over the people of the Middle East, who have been impoverished by its socialism, and communism, and despotic rulers. Who is it that has denied the right of Muslims to have Islamic governments in their countries, is it the United States? The United States didn’t have any idea what Islamism, or Islamic government was until people from Europe and the Middle East brought their battle against Islam here, hoping to preempt the empowerment of Muslims who had fled the Middle East seeking economic opportunities and freedom in the United States. Afraid that Muslims in the United States, would look back to their countries, and use their political freedoms, and finances to change the Middle East, government representatives came here to tell our government that anyone who wore a scarf was an Islamic extremist and a terrorists, and that anyone who prayed in the mosque was a religious fanatic, and anyone who opposed Middle East government corruption and despotism were out to impose an “intolerant” brand of Islamic fanaticism upon the people. All lies. But our government believed them, because “governments” told them Who is it that upon every opportunity for free and fair elections in the ! Middle East, has run to the United States and cried the “fundamentalists Muslim terrorists are after us, save us by supporting dictatorship, and poverty and corruption? Was it the United States? Was it George W. Bush? Zionists? Christian fundamentalists?

If nothing else should be apparent to the people of the world, regardless of our religions, races, etc., it is that we are all victims, and we are victims simply because we refuse to sacrifice some of the immediate pleasures in life, to think freely, to be independent minded, to have faith in God, to create a world that is capable of sustaining peace, and justice, and fairness for all people. For too long we have been exploited by the left, the right, the middle, and this agenda, that agenda. Where are the men and women who lead people because they love?

When the people, the real people, take back their power that they have conferred to media, analysts, presidents, popes, viceroys, armies, bombs, missiles, money, sex, drugs, etc. and return it to themselves, the world will change. So long as we continue to play the games of the past century, the century of massacres, famines in one part of the world, while others flourish, illiteracy, political repression and oppression, things will never change. Those who believe that the Arab/Israeli conflict, or any part of its suffering is the fault of the United States alone, or George W. Bush, should look again.  Everyone is to blame, so claim your share. The American people are awakening to our faults, and we are not too proud to change. There are no people on the planet ! who have changed as often and as quickly as American people, in response to numerous challenges. Polls show that we are not happy with the plight of the Palestinian people, that we want a balanced policy, that we want the Palestinian people to have their own independent state, and we want desperately to see the people of the Muslim and Arab to have the freedoms and economic opportunities they desire. President Bush said in his State of the Union address that he wants progress, reform, and economic development in the Middle East, he bemoaned the fact that the West had left an entire region of the world behind, and created animosity as a result. Clinton never said that. No one from the self-righteous left said that, and would never say it for the obvious reasons.

The United States may have two, or three or more souls, millions to be more exact, but we have one heart, and it’s a generous, forgiving, though sometimes-ignorant heart. Yet we have the humility to change, and we have proven it, what about the rest of the world. Will the people hold on to hate, or turn the page, and grab hold to an extended hand, and get on with reforms, negotiations for peace, economic development, etc. It’s easy to hate, to kill, to fight, and to lay blame. It’s harder to forgive, to repent, move on, and to change.

The writer is the Founder and President of the National Association of Muslim American Women.