Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Arab-American Civil Rights

It was reported on NPR last night that in a new poll conducted by Cornell University, 44% of those surveyed supported some form or curtailing of the civil rights of Arab-Americans. Arab-Americans. To fight terrorism, I suppose.

Interesting. Especially since Arab-Americans destroyed the World Trade Center. Oh, wait, those were Saudi Arabians, not Arab-Americans.

But then, the shoe bomber was an Arab-American, right? No, he was British.

Well, of course, Arab-Americans committed the worst school massacre in American history at Columbine, right? No, those were white kids.

Hey, what about the bombing of the Federal building in Oklahoma City, the worst terrorist attack on US soil in American history until 9/11. Arab-Americans, right? No, that was a white guy.

Well, the Unabomber had to be an Arab-American, right? Nope. Another white guy.

But you can't make white guys register with the government and profile them. I mean, that's just stupid. There are too many of them. You can't tell the bad ones apart.


That's a rationalization. The reality is that we didn't inter Japanese-Americans during WWII but not German-Americans not because it would be hard to inter German-Americans, but because white people are in power and people only want to take away the civil rights of others. They never want to have their own civil rights taken away.

The fact that it is easy to tell Arab-Americans and Japanese-Americans apart from the majority white population is part of the reason white people want to curtail their civil rights. The practicality is beside the issue. If, after Oklahoma City, someone demonstrated that you could easily start profiling white guys and making them register with the government (after all, they all do already, for Selective Service), it wouldn't make white people think it was a good idea to curtail the rights of white guys.

This is about the fact that people see people in other groups as less than themselves, less than human, and less deserving of dignity, happiness, and civil rights than themselves. And it's easy to deprive someone else of civil rights. It doesn't hurt you.

Until you're the one being discriminated against. Oh, then the cries of "reverse discrimination" sound to the heavens! When white people sense the slightest discrimination they freak out. But that doesn't stop them from being the first ones in line to take something away from someone else.

Let's stop dancing around the bush and call this what it is: Racism. Pure and simple. It may be racism bred of fear, but it is racism nonetheless. Just because it easier to be fearful of Arab-Americans or Japanese-Americans than a white guy -- who was just crazy, you see, he was an isolated case, but these Arabs are just bad -- doesn't mean it's not racism. Racism can come from hatred, or fear, or envy, or all sorts of emotions. It is still racism. Wanting the security guard at the gate to profile the Arab guy dressed in a suit but not the white guy who looks like the Unabomber is racism. Pure and simple.


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