We watched with disdain and bewilderment the behavior of Arab and Muslim Americans during, and especially after, the United states presidential election. What stood out to us is that those most enthusiastic about participating in the public ritual are the least informed and embarrassingly simple-minded members of the community. They demonstrated a complete lack of understanding of domestic US politics and foreign policy formulation. With a Middle School understanding of US government, they accept all the basic assumptions of the U.S. political system and culture without any critical thought. It was quite amusing to watch how seriously these Arab and Muslim Americans took themselves and the election. Of course, there is no such thing as an Arab or Muslim American voting bloc, and both communities remain totally and completely irrelevant. Nevertheless, a handful of Arab and Muslim Americans desperately seeking acceptance within the U.S. mainstream appointed themselves as representatives of our community and set out to, as their favorite cliche goes, “engage the U.S. electoral and political process.”
For the vast majority of our community Hillary Clinton was preferred over Donald Trump because, apparently, war criminals are “less evil” than racist demagogues that never killed anyone. What was most disturbing was the reaction of disappointment from some of these individuals to the defeat of Clinton. Her partial resume includes a vote for a war on Iraq that resulted in the slaughter of over one million human beings, direct responsibility for the war on Libya (her public mocking of the sexual assault and brutal murder of the Libyan head of state Colonel Mouammar Qhaddafi should itself be a disqualifier for any decent person), and an enthusiastic supporter of every Israeli massacre of Palestinians. Yet, for some Arab and Muslim Americans Trump’s racist, xenophobic, Islamophobic rhetoric was more appalling than Clinton’s actual war crimes, which is both, bizarre and morally untenable. The ability of some members of our community to overlook and dismiss horrific war crimes on a mass scale carried out against their own regions of origin because they are eager to be accepted within the U.S. mainstream is disgraceful. Moreover, even if we were willing to pursue the politics of “lesser-evilism” and were convinced Trump is more dangerous to our own communities, we should not be so self-centered. The interests and well-being of Arab and Muslim Americans is not more important than the lives and well-being of Arabs and Muslims who do not live in this country, nor is the life and well-being of any human being anywhere on this planet less important than the lives, interests and well-being of U.S. citizens. In fact, the interests of all people, including Americans of all backgrounds, requires us to make anti-war activism and social justice here and abroad our top priority. For those among us eager to be accepted within the American political mainstream and/or driven by petty, personal ambitions, such an approach is out of the question since it does not serve their agenda.
Ikhras did not endorse any candidate in the U.S. Presidential election. We have always believed that presidential elections in the US are irrelevant and little more than a public ritual intended to perpetuate the façade of democracy. As we have always maintained, we do not harbor any illusions that change is possible “from within” the American political and electoral system. Instead, we have encouraged Arab and Muslim American activists to support protests, grassroots organizing, community empowerment, nonviolent resistance, education, civil disobedience, strikes, and demanding boycott, divestment and sanctions against the usurping Zionist entity. We have also rejected ethno-centric and religious-based activism and activism which is restricted to within the US. We have a global outlook on the issues facing our world today with an internationalist perspective firmly grounded in universal human values. It is our global perspective and values that inform and shape our political positions. As such, we believe activism should include men and women across all religious, ethnic, class divisions and national borders in order to work for progressive change on a global scale. For those of us that are committed to social justice everywhere, care about the well-being of all of humanity, and are under no illusion about the possibility of change from within the US political and electoral process, we should continue to reach out to Americans of all backgrounds and all progressive forces within the US to build bridges of solidarity and unity based on universal human values, not narrow ethno-centric or religious based considerations.
We at Ikhras will continue to promote this progressive, anti-war, internationalist agenda and will still be doing so when the same Arab and Muslim Americans that are now grossly exaggerating the negative impact of his victory on our communities and U.S. foreign policy line up to attend the first Donald Trump-hosted White House “Iftar.”