Ms. Roqayah Chamseddine is a Lebanese-American humanitarian activist. She is an undergraduate student majoring in Political Science/Pre-Law and Journalism. She was a member of the Gaza Freedom March last December in Cairo. Check out her thoughtful tweets at http://twitter.com/iRevolt. This article demonstrates that not all Arabs and Muslims in this country are enamored with the mainstream media, and consider a media appearance a badge of honor, or a validation of being a good Muslim and Arab. This Lebanese-American takes to task ABC, its anchors and Muslim-Americans who try to appeal to them.
Diane Sawyer, Bill Weir and Lama Hasan attempted to answer a variety of dynamic questions about Islam during an ABC broadcast on Friday called“Islam – Questions & Answers.” The programme aspired to respond to five questions American viewers submitted via comments, email and video submissions: What is Islam? Why Do Radicals Feel Violence is Justified? Is Western Culture at Odds with Islam? Where is the Moderate Muslim Voice? How Can We All Get Along?
The premise of the broadcast, to explain away misconceptions in respect to Islam and Muslims in America, sounds plausible – commendable even; ABC is touted as ‘America’s News Service’ and their tagline heralds that “…more Americans get their news from ABC News than from any other source“. The delivery of the ABC ‘Islam’ special solidified many contentions, one of the most pivotal being that of the anatomy of American ignorance.
Diane Sawyer’s voice lulled viewers through a barrage of images and videos, including that of Osama Bin Laden and Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. It is a simple technique used by even the most liberal of media orthodoxy; them and us, extremists verses moderates, radicals against pacifists. The clip of Osama Bin Laden was inaudible but Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah’s was not, a few seconds were played wherein he was heard saying ‘Al Mawt La Amreeka’ – ‘Death to America’ and then, of course, there was nothing more given. The video ABC stripped was from a speech by Hezb’Allah Secretary General, in it we can see that his statement was blatantly taken out of context. The video of his speech can be found here:
“…I must clarify that when I say “America” I do not mean the American people, most of whom are distant and ignorant of what is going on in the world, and of what its government and army are doing in the world.
Nevertheless, we consider the current administration an enemy of our nation and of the peoples of our nation, because it has always taken a position of aggression, of occupation, and of supporting Israel with weapons, airplanes, tanks, money, as well as political support, and full and unlimited protection.
We consider it to be an enemy because it wants to humiliate our governments, our regimes and our peoples […] This American administration is an enemy […] If America stops interfering in our countries’ and nation’s affairs, stops its aggression, stops its occupation, stops its plundering of our resources and treasures, we will have no problem with it….”
When it came to interviewing Muslims and non-Muslims it did not get any better; Pamella Geller, poster-child of mainstream Islamophobia, was sandwiched between ‘Bin Laden’s worst nightmare’ Irshad Manji and the self-proclaimed ‘Infidel’ Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Three convenient feminists discussing Muslim radicals, oppression of women and how moderates play a role in the religious divide. There was no robust intellectual argument, no cogent analysis, no valuable premise; it was pure celebrity glitter being flung in the faces of those less fortunate in terms of rational capability.
By giving Geller, Manji and Ali a platform to spread anti-Muslim vitriol in the shape and form of a liberated female refusinek ABC introduced them as being sources, credible or not, on Islam.
The 20/20 special on Islam in America pitched a slew of statistics including, on at least two occasions, the numbers of Muslims serving in the United States Military: “…at least 7,000 American-Muslims serve in the Armed Forces…” This venomous detail falls back into the ‘them verses us’ narrative that much of the mainstream media rehearses time and time again. It was as if Sawyers voice-over wished to tell Americans, ‘see – they play a role in the occupation, just like us’.
There were sentimental points used as bridges between a variety of hypocritical lunacy and at times one might have considered the programme genuinely aware and concerned for the plight of American-Muslims but collectively it was an unimpressive, cliched broadcast.
Diane Sawyer was seen asking an interviewee where the ‘Muslim Gandhi’ was and to that there was no vehement reply, no defiant lambasting of such mindless drivel. “…Muslims do not have one individual who speaks on their behalf…” was the reply. Such a weak and asinine answer to Sawyers fully loaded question.
And while American-Muslims put on their best suits, made-up their faces in a sea of kohl and rouge in order to present the Western world with what “moderates” look like our brothers and sisters in Iraq, Palestine, Kashmir, Pakistan and Afghanistan are asking where the American Gandhi is.
Time and time again we hear the incessant harping of the ignorant West, crying out for Muslims to lash out against radicals and denounce the acts of extremists, yet Americans do not ask the same of each other.
While the United States of America plays imperialist Twister, its colonialist hand in every occupation and coup d’état, it is American-Muslims who must continuously submit themselves before their Western-masters and kiss the hand that feeds them.
Lest we forget Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo: Where men, women and children were raped and tortured in ways which even the pen’s ink feels ashamed to document; such brutal perversity can only be inscribed in the blood of their martyrs and screams of their victims.
Lest we forget the slaughter of innocent Afghans and Iraqis for sport; US Occupation Forces collecting skulls and dismembered body parts to bring back as souvenirs, as if they had been on holiday all these countless years.
Lest we forget the cries of our beloved Jerusalem, her soil saturated in the tears of a trail of Palestinian refugees who refuse to call their luggage ‘home’. The olive trees remain tightly bound around their hands whilst they defend themselves against US-endorsed ethnic cleansing and Uncle Sam approved pillage.
But, unlike the intellectually inept, we do not want an apology – we demand prosecution. The United States Administration must face its own slew of Nuremberg Trials, it must be forced to see the Iraqi Holocaust and the Palestinian Ghettos.
The unimpressive broadcast by 20/20 displayed nothing more than complete and unashamed blindness towards reality.
The orthodox media narrative was played out once more; while a cluster-bomb detonates in South Lebanon, a white-phosphorus shell rains across the Gaza Strip and another body is buried in Baghdad. And they ask us where our Gandhi is?
There is no ‘Muslim Gandhi’ just as there is no Palestinian Gandhi or Iraqi Gandhi or Afghan Gandhi or Lebanese Gandhi because you’ve buried them all, dead – ‘Made In America’ etched across their flesh.