Message from an Arab-American

By Joseph Farah

Dear Barack Obama:

Your speech to the Democratic National Convention last week was inspirational.

As you seek a U.S. Senate seat from the state of Illinois, I want to address just one aspect of your address.

You said: “If there’s an Arab-American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process that threatens my civil liberties.”

I’m glad you used the term “if,” because I am unaware of any such threats. However, I assume you believe there is such a family. Please share with the American people the specifics of this outrage. As an Arab-American myself, I would be most interested in such a case.

If not, your suggestion that innocent Arab-American families are threatened by such actions of our government borders on irresponsibility and represents the worst kind of political pandering.

It is my own experience as an Arab-American that our country, our people and our government bend over backward to avoid such abuses.

In fact, it is my own experience as an Arab-American that our country, our people and our government sometimes make irresponsible and dangerous decisions to avoid even the appearance of ethnic profiling.

Perhaps you aren’t aware of the fact that all 19 terrorists who attacked this country Sept. 11 were Arabs. Perhaps you aren’t aware of the fact that all of those who attacked the World Trade Center in 1993, killing six and injuring more than 1,000 were Arabs and Arab-Americans. Perhaps you aren’t aware of the fact that other Arab-Americans currently stand accused of aiding and abetting terrorist attacks against our country.

Again, to my knowledge, there are no Arab-Americans currently facing “round-up” without the benefit of attorney or due process.

If you know of such instances, you owe it to the American people to bring this knowledge forward and confront the injustice head-on – not through innuendo.

I don’t believe the American people would stand for it.

Americans are tolerant and open-minded and non-judgmental. Americans are good, fair and understanding. They are anything but quick to generalize and stereotype – even when doing so would clearly be in their best interest.

Again, here’s my own experience as an Arab-American. I travel frequently. Though I am an Arab-American male, though I have an Arab face and an Arab name, I never get a second look when I go through security. Meanwhile, I see young mothers with little babies struggling to make it through extra security. I see little old grandmothers facing the indignities of extra checks.

And all the while, the Muslim-American lobbies and the Arab-American anti-discrimination groups are denouncing this country for being racist and for profiling.

It’s just not true.

Worse yet, there is every common-sense reason for it to be so.

The threat of terrorism in the United States does come largely, if not exclusively, from Arabs and from Muslims. We ignore that fact at our own peril.

When I fly to the Middle East, I often fly El Al. In fact, it is my preferred carrier. Why? Because it has great security. I know, because of my name and my Arabic ancestry, I’m going to have my bags searched more scrupulously than the average American.

Do I mind?

Absolutely not. In fact, I am grateful. Because I know these security people are not only protecting the other passengers, they are protecting me.

It only makes sense to do this kind of profiling – especially when we are in a war where our very way of life is at stake.

That’s what I think as an Arab-American, Mr. Obama. You see, not all Arab-Americans think alike. Some of us think like Americans first and Arabs second. Maybe you should give it some thought.

Oh, by the way, I’ll be waiting for that information about those roundups with bated breath.