DIANA EID·SUNDAY, JUNE 26, 2016
As you well know, I try to avoid discussing any touchy topics on Facebook because I know how easy it is to misunderstand and be misunderstood. However, there are a few things that have been on my mind and I’d like to share, if I may. I hope to raise awareness by sharing my perspective, and hopefully generate some thoughtful (and kind!) discourse.
Last week, I was at the airport and I called my mom to chat. We spoke in Arabic, as we always do. I made some remark about being careful about speaking in Arabic lest I get into trouble. I intended it to be a joke, but as soon as I said the words out loud, I actually began to feel very nervous and lowered my voice for the rest of the call. By the way, whenever I fly, I always avoid dark, bulky clothing and attempt to tame my curly hair. Wouldn’t want to look like a terrorist **cough cough Arab** .
Then, yesterday, I came across a NY times article by Aziz Ansari about the effect of Mr. Trump’s rhetoric. Look it up – worth the read.
And then I heard about the Italian economist who was taken in for questioning because the lady sitting next to him on a plane thought his differential equations were some kind of foreign script detailing a potential terrorist attack. Bonus – he has olive skin and dark curly hair.
And then I saw a comment on a picture of a coke can (the word Coca Cola was written in Arabic) – the comment said – “that had better NOT say ISIS”. Oh my. I hope this was a joke. Wait, no. No, I don’t. Because that isn’t even remotely humorous. As far as I’m concerned, there is no context in which that comment is acceptable.
- Fun fact: Arabic is the 6th most spoken language in the world and isn’t spoken by ISIS alone.
- Fun fact #2: Not only does the Arabic language not belong to ISIS, it also doesn’t belong to Muslims alone. It belongs to poets, artists, musicians, Christians, atheists, agnostics – you name it.
- Fun fact #3: Arab does not equal Muslim (not that there is anything wrong with being Muslim!). Muslim does not equal terrorist. Despite what some would like you to believe, true adherents of the Muslim faith denounce terrorism.
To be honest, I am sickened by the harsh reality that, as an Arab, I have to constantly be apologetic for the actions of a tiny minority. I am sickened that I am made to feel as though I can’t celebrate my heritage because that heritage is greatly misunderstood due to the actions of that minority. And lastly, I am saddened that, at least for the foreseeable future, being in an airport will be a stressful situation for reasons other than the normal concerns associated with air travel; like making it to your gate on time, or needing the weather to cooperate so that there are no delays.
Like I said at the beginning, the main purpose of this post is to raise awareness and urge all of us to avoid falling into the all too easy trap of finger-pointing, blame-shifting, and name calling. Instead, let us all strive to be more gracious, more kind, and more loving. Let’s seek truth and grace above judgement. After all, at the end of the day, I imagine that ISIS and co. mostly want to cause fear and division. We sure as hell shouldn’t make their job easier by giving them exactly what they want.