Okay, this is going to short and quick, because it's basically OLD NEWS... but I was sent an email forward yesterday with the subject line "More quiet appointments by Obama". Of course, with a title like that I knew it had to be good. (And by "good" I mean "annoying, misinformed and probably racist").
Fw: More quiet appointments by Obama:
I bet you never saw this in any newspaper in the USA? Another very quiet appointment?
Obama Appoints 2 Devout Muslims to Homeland Security Posts
(NOTE: Has anyone ever heard a new government official being identified as a devout Catholic, Jew or Protestant...? Just wondering)
Doesn't this make you feel safer already??
Obama and Janet Napolitano Appoint Devout Muslim to Homeland Security Post, Arif Alikhan as Assistant Secretary for Policy Development. Source for Announcement: Homeland Security Press Room and atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com
Kareem Shora, who was born in Damascus, Syria was appointed by DHS Secretary Napolitano on Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC) Washington, DC June 5, 2009
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) is proud to announce that earlier today at a ceremony held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano swore-in ADC National Executive Director Kareem Shora as a member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC).
Devout Muslims being appointed to critical Homeland Security positions? That should make our homeland much safer, huh!!
Was it not men of the "Devout Muslim Faith" that flew planes into U.S. buildings not too long ago. Once again, what is this president thinking?
Yeah, it was that good. Now I don't know who originated this particular version of the email, but I have to roll my eyes at the person who felt it was worthy of forwarding. Even though most of the information is technically "correct" (Alikhan and Shora were both appointed to DHS positions and they are both Muslim-Americans), the sentiments definitely are not "right". And here's why:
1. Just because the appointments were "quiet" doesn't mean they were secret. They weren't highly publicized because... (surprise!) not every tiny little appointment merits a huge press conference. These positions aren't unimportant, but they're not exactly Secretary of Homeland Security either. You may not have read it in the newspapers recently because the appointments took place way back in April and June 2009 respectively. But it wasn't kept "quiet". (If you don't believe me here are the original press releases.)
2. Just because someone is a Muslim doesn't mean they are necessarily a"devout" Muslim. There's one 2007 article from a German magazine that refers to Alikhan as a "devout Sunni" but there are no direct quotes from him about the extent of his alleged devoutness. Shora just refers to himself as a Muslim-American.
3. Just because someone is Muslim (devout or otherwise) or of Middle Eastern descent doesn't mean that they're a terrorist or otherwise dangerous. I don't think this one needs any further explanation. (If you do require further explanation, well, then just go away.)
4. "Has anyone ever heard a new government official being identified as a devout Catholic, Jew or Protestant...?" Um, yeah. In fact, a candidate's devoutness is often a selling point... (well, as long as they're from a Christ-based faith.) Barack Obama wasn't devout enough. The devoutness of Mike Huckabee (Baptist) and Mitt Romney (Mormon) were all anyone talked about. Not only did Elizabeth Dole's campaign refer to her religion (including her "devout Methodist" upbringing), but she also tried to bash her opponent Kay Hagan for being an atheist (she wasn't, she actually was a devout Christian.)
5. Using Atlas Shrugs as a reference only weakens one's argument. (In case you're not already familiar with them, one of their "missions" is to "say no to an islamized America". Not exactly the most unbiased source out there.) We were unable to find any blogs upset or worried about these appointments, other than the usual right wing, conservative, Islamophobic, xenophobic, racist ones. (Our "favorite", by the way, is ExposeObama.com. Doesn't it sound like they're about to release an Obama sex tape?)
6. Before his appointment, Arif Alikhan was the deputy mayor of Los Angeles, in charge of Public Safety. Don't you think that if he was some sort of secret terrorist, he would have used that position to facilitate an attack on L.A.?
7. Kareem Shora was National Executive Director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. Not exactly a terrorist organization. He had dedicated his life to the civil rights of others and won numerous human rights awards.
8, Devout Muslims being appointed to critical Homeland Security positions probably will make our homeland much safer. Diversity in our government is a good thing, not a bad thing. According to a recent poll by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, more than half of those surveyed thought that American Muslims face widespread discrimination. It's no doubt that Arab Americans and American Muslims feel this discrimination (often in the form of racial profiling and Islamophobia) especially from government agencies like the Department of Homeland Security. Showing that the United States government isn't as racist and Islamophobic as some people in the country is a very good thing.
9. It wasn't "men of the Devout Muslim Faith" that flew planes into U.S. buildings. It was Islamic Extremist Terrorists. They're not the same thing!!!! Although there does exist a very small subgroup of radical Fundamentalist terrorists, by far the majority of Muslims are peaceful and moderate. Of course, groups like this exist in various religions and cultures. How would it feel if all Christians were treated like white supremacists, just because of a few small Christian Identity groups?
10. Do I have to make a list of all the horrible things that so-called devout Christians have done? Because I totally can. "Men of the Devout Christian Faith" have committed heinous crimes, often in the name of Christianity... but no one would ever suggest that having Christians in the Department of Homeland Security was a safety risk.
11. How long do you have to be an American citizen before people stop treating you like a "foreigner". The son of Indian and Pakistani parents, Alikhan was born in Canada and raised in California. Shora was born in Damascus, Syria but has lived in the United States for many years. There may be some legitimacy to the argument that Homeland Security posts should be held by natural-born Americans, but it shouldn't matter if they are from the Middle East or elsewhere. I'm not necessarily agreeing with that point, but I would at least understand that argument, as opposed to the "OMG! Muslims!" fear mongering.
It is the same kind of fearful racism that motivates groups like the AFA to suggest that Muslims should not be allowed to serve in the military (because, you know, we just have an overabundance of people wanting to risk their lives for the U.S... we don't need Muslims or homosexuals or even women, right?)
Barack Obama suffered the same xenophobia and Islamophobia (even though he is neither an immigrant nor a Muslim). Come on America, we're better than that! Hey, remember when I said this blog was going to be short and quick? Oh well. And a general request to my friends and family: Please don't send me email forwards that are racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, [insert your own here], inaccurate or outdated. Thanks!