This blogpost on the faces of Islam in Syria by Yasmin Al Tellawy is worth the read:
My piece on the #ChapelHillShooting was published on the Huffington Post Chicago page. I know you bloodsuckers don’t read my blog, but I’ll post it here anyways because it makes me feel better about myself and my Klout score. I have sooooo much self-love that I have to check it in because it doesn’t fit on airplane overhead compartments, ya bish. I digress. This is a very solemn and pressing topic:
“Will we millennials be “one community” when there isn’t a hashtag de jour to capture our attention? What are the chances that we will be mindful of the plight of others when the mainstream media is painfully slow in bringing those stories to the forefront? Will ad hoc coalitions crystallize only when we’re in crisis mode? Or will we have the bonds of solidarity in place beforehand, ready to protect one another, ready to proactively address what ails or isolates our communities, and solidly in place to maintain an atmosphere of inclusion, altruism, love and trust? This is what we need to ask ourselves in the wake of this tragedy. We cannot afford to sputter through what lays ahead in a reactionary, “deer in the headlights” fashion.
True power is what happens when the collective buys in, acts as one unit, one human body. Does hate-speech and bigotry stand a chance against an active and engaged citizenry — one that holds the principle of togetherness front and center? If your answer is “No”, then you’re not looking hard enough: there were legions of people like Deah, Yusor and Razan out there — from all backgrounds, Muslims, atheists or otherwise — carrying candles sputtering in the cold, shaken to the core because three of their own were taken from them.”
In 2009, the Chicago Muslim community was at the forefront of civic engagement and ahead of the national community curve in terms of interfaith dialogue, government advocacy, and mobilization. The time span directly after the 2008 Presidential elections was supposedly a threshold moment, with all of the Get Out The Vote energy and subsequent Muslim lobby days at our state capital (which included students, by the way) promising a momentum that would carry our community to the next level in terms of clout, integration, and impact within the Chicagoland area.
Look at me with a straight face and try to convince me that we did not in fact drop the ball and regress ever since the “Arab Spring” began in late 2010. Understandably, since a big part of the donor community and usual board members of the mosques and organizations were Arab, and since what happens in Muslim majority countries are of concern to Muslims in the United States, our attentions were diverted, and many pockets of the community, such as the Syrian American community got absorbed in the horrific Syrian crises– their money, time, and emotions were invested in humanitarian relief and political energies, and that looks to be a reality for a long time to come, seeing that the civil war is nowhere near its end as well as the fact that Syria will need all the help it can get from the diaspora community in rebuilding and development work. NOTE: I’d be the last person to shame someone for focusing on their parents’ country, seeing as I myself got intimately involved in Syria activism both in Washington, DC and Chicago– when what I was interested in beforehand was more centered on domestic issues and the Muslim community. And I think the powers that be (mainly Arab) in the community directed us as a collective into being an Arab Muslim community or a foreign community, rather than the trajectory we were once on– embracing our place as conscious, engaged American Muslim citizens.
All energies were exhausted (not necessarily in the most efficient ways) into trying to get the Obama administration to budge on Syria– there were many victories within Congress, the State Department, and the broader DC think tank and media community– but it is quite clear that there is only one person standing in the way of an effective strategy in Syria that possesses a set of teeth and long-term approach. From Secretary Hillary Clinton to Secretary Robert Gates to the recently retired U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford and other former high ranking administration officials (cutting across partisan lines), all recommendations for a more engaged Syria policy fell upon deaf ears– President Obama’s ears, that is. And here we are. Assad seems to be living quite comfortably with the Islamic State providing him with a thick smokescreen to hide behind. There are 191,369 deaths in Syria confirmed out of the 318,910 reported. Millions are displaced, the country’s infrastructure is in shambles, the war has spread to Iraq and Lebanon, and there is a reality called the Islamic State that isn’t planning on leaving any time soon. I think it is time for a change in approach on the Syrian American community’s behalf. Arming the Free Syrian Army and enacting a no-fly zone are policy asks we should continue to champion, but I strongly believe that we should focus primarily on relief and development, along with making sure that our government doesn’t hop into bed with Assad to fight IS. If President Obama approaches the Islamic State as an entity that emerged out of a vacuum (rather than the power vacuum he created) and doesn’t incorporate Syria and the remaining moderate rebels into his anti-ISIS strategy, then we can expect more deaf ears until this president’s term is over in 2016. The fight is nowhere near over, and we have a responsibility to continue informing our fellow citizens and holding our elected officials accountable.
In other words, let’s recalibrate, refocus. It might be cliché to repeat this, but sadly this seems to have eluded us for a while: my home is here, this is my country, America is where I’ll be raising my children, and my arena for inducing any sort of change or impact will be here, from here, for here. The day that I can help Syria is not today, and it’ll only come after I have the social, political, or financial capital to do so. The highest value that I– or we– can bring to the table— that’s what I’m interested in right now. I think in basketball terms sometimes, and to pull out a useful analogy– I’d take the efficient player who takes a reasonable number of shots for their skill level and makes them without forcing it or draining his team’s offensive capacity (Kevin Durant, Kenneth Faried, Carmelo Anthony, Goran Dragic), rather than the volume shooter who chucks up 15 shots or more (and misses most) on isolation attempts that crowd the floor (Rudy Gay, Josh Smith, Kyrie Irving, Deron Williams).
The highest value is probably not going to be in shouting in front of the White House, engaging in Twitter debates, and the myriad of “meetings” our leaders continue to hold in Washington or elsewhere. I’ve sat in on some of those meetings, by the way, and I think that while some members of Congress, Congressional staffers, think tank personalities, and your usual suspects in the media community may sympathize with us, and while others in the Muslim community kiss up and continue to shout about how “unified” the so-called “ummah” is and how we are all “one cause” (I missed the memo, guys)— our community could not have been more alone when it truly mattered.
From March 15, 2011, to the Houla Massacre, to the Ghouta Chemical Weapons Massacre, to every revolution anniversary event in March, to every bullet, barrel bomb, body, and tear that dropped since then– we found only hollow, shallow words. Thus is the reality of politics and the world. And the Syrians on the ground themselves learned this firsthand. The conclusion? We have truly no one but God. Moreover– we owe nothing to anybody but God, by helping to answer the prayers of those who are being oppressed, and standing in solidarity with them. “Solidarity”, however, is a frequently abused word. I find it hilarious that the pro-Palestine community (which did not support any of the necessary policy changes to save Syrian lives) requests of us to show “unity”– as if the horrors committed by Israel aren’t enough to induce outrage at the rallies on Michigan Avenue.
And the college-aged Syrian Americans and others in the SJPs and MSAs– far removed from the realities of power and politics, or far too absorbed in themselves– or who do in fact know better, but won’t miss an opportunity to display their sexy activist chops, buy into it wholesale. You don’t need to shame people into “unity” to get people to stand for basic human dignity and security, all of which is being denied for Palestinians by the Israeli government. Syrian Americans who stand against dictatorship and oppression should understand this best– don’t make me dial back the clocks, back to the days when Syrians showed up in full force to the Palestine rallies of the 1990s and 2000s. If you are asking me and the Syrian community to kiss someone’s ass for the sake of some superficial, delusional “unity”– you’re doing it wrong. And if you’re riding on the coattails of someone else’s cause (I’m aiming this directly at the pro-Raba’aa folks who put up Facebook profile pictures equating and tying the dreadful Raba’aa Massacre in Egypt to the Ghouta Chemical Weapon Massacre), especially when you do little to actually support the goals of that particular cause or community (in our case, U.S. intervention in Syria)– you need to rethink your notions of solidarity and your basic humanity (and just to be clear I am also calling you ‘basic‘).
To the Syrian Americans || This needs to be chewed a bit further: the reason why Syria matters to me and why I feel the need/relevance to do something about it is because I as an American of Syrian descent possess a unique vantage point that most Americans do not– I have “skin in the game”, therefore I can provide more nuance and commitment on this particular issue. But it’s not because I myself am a Syrian or that I have suffered anything aside from immense emotional pain in the past 4 years. I’m not a refugee, I’m not an opposition activist on the ground in Homs or Damascus (ahem, #chicagoGirl), and I don’t speak for the Syrian children. I can be an amplifier, a reminder, a supporter, and dreamer like others that Syria will one day be free, safe, and democratic. And the rest is up to God. Yes, some privilege checking and perspective is necessary, and I think it is when we recognize our boundaries and accept that we cannot speak for everyone and do *everything* that our work becomes more effective, organic, sincere, less forced, more grounded, and so on. I think the majority of Syrian American college students and young folks in my generation feel the same way or are starting to do so, and the community at large– the leaders and parents– should follow suit: building from within, starting at home, instilling a sense of citizenship beyond just attending rallies, practicing what we preach (there’s gun violence in Chicago too), learning from other communities and social justice movements’ triumphs and mistakes. These lessons should empower us, and our humanity should lift our heads up high and keep us going.
I visited Lebanon recently to see my grandparents from Homs for the first time in 4 years. When I hugged my grandfather (whom I’m named after), and smelled the scent of cigarettes on him and heard his laugh, and felt my grandmother’s wet kisses on my cheeks, and walked with them in the streets of Beirut, which, just like Homs, were draped in jasmine flowers– I felt like a kid again. I felt sharp, painful nostalgia, and seeing them after 4 years, when all I knew from Syria in that time period was death, death, and more death, seemed like I was witnessing a resurrection. It was truly a surreal experience that I still cannot seem to unpack and write about.
This nostalgia keeps me awake and can drive me mad at times (and I’m positive that this is worse for my parents who came from Syria or for those who have more memories from there), especially when the news headlines coming out of Syria get darker by the day. But what has kept me grounded was not the scents, sights, and feelings of the place I loved– the place where I climbed school walls and played soccer in the streets, played video games in sweaty internet parlors, drank orange soda out of ziploc bags, tried my first guilty hookah and felt like a total badass, got into my first street fight, waited in early morning bread lines because my father wanted me to learn, wrestled my way up to the front counter in the falafel shops while customers crowded to watch the FIFA World Cup or the climax of a Turkish soap opera episode, where I felt like for the first time in my life that I could be myself, just, Adham, where I cried every time we’d pack up to head to the airport at the end of summer, where I’d kiss the ground at the mosque before I left because I didn’t want to leave my best friend, that city—– on the contrary what kept me grounded, actually, was that smell of a McDonalds when I got home to O’Hare International Airport, the smell of my house after a long summer… suburbia, America, home, sweet home. What I was privileged to enjoy in Syria, in Homs in particular, was like reading and experiencing a book that few others were blessed to read.
That book ended in 2011– Homs, and Syria for that matter, will never be the same, and if we do get to go back, it’ll be drastically different. I say this all to make it very clear that I am not advocating for severing the proverbial umbilical cord. We mustn’t disengage. We should move on, in some ways, and grow, advance in others. The reality is that we don’t have barrel bombs raining down on us. Let’s stop acting like it. I still have my keys from Homs, by the way, in my drawer at home. But I won’t wear them around my neck like some chain shackling me down in perpetual bitterness, despair, and displacement. We’re a community that has been blessed with wealth, passion, and a proud heritage. We should start thinking that way and carrying ourselves as such. I remember the days when the Syrian American community was little more than a bunch of Mercedes-Benzes parked outside of banquet halls and houses in upscale neighborhoods– parties, banality, arguments about the most superficial crap, like we were the Arab version of Downton Abbey. I think we have been transformed, humbled, aged– drastically. We’ve been blessed with so much, and we owe it to this city to give back, and to help undo the wrongs around us and address injustice: starting in our own backyard.
To the broader Muslim community (most of which is not Syrian or even Arab, by the way): though there are some fantastic bright spots (IMAN and the good folks at CAIR-Chicago, each with a developed niche and outstanding leadership), for the most part, I smell burnout, displacement, outdatedness, and disconnect, rather than cohesive, pragmatic, “big picture”, American empowerment. The past few years has been something like a nightmare. Let’s wake up.
I hope this doesn’t become a series. It probably will. Yup. You know it will.
I attended Friday prayer this afternoon at a location I shall not disclose so that I do not embarrass anyone or call any person or group out in particular. It’s been a while since I’ve made the commitment to go out and attend the Friday khutba– and anyways I normally have class during the afternoon prayer time slot, but seeing that it was midterms week and classes were on-and-off, I decided to join a local prayer in downtown Chicago. One of the key reasons why I haven’t been motivated in recent months to attend Friday prayer is because the sermons that I usually go to do not fulfill at least one of the two following criteria:
1) I leave the prayer feeling spiritually replenished or uplifted
2) I leave the prayer having been intellectually challenged
Instead, I find myself making this face most of the time when the preacher is giving their half hour monologue:
You all know that face very well, I’m sure. (Her name is Chloe, also known as Side-Eyeing Chloe).
Example. The preacher/imam uses the word “kuffar” (apostates) to describe non-Muslims:
The imam includes every instance of suffering around the world, except any suffering experienced by people who aren’t Muslim, in his final prayer:
The imam spends the whole khutba talking about Masjid al-Aqsa, the Muslim Brotherhood, Syria, or Burma, being extremely graphic and emotional, again and again and again, every week:
The imam talks very passionately about how everyone is misrepresenting Kanye West and how Yeezus was a brilliant album and that Kanye is in fact a genius and that we are all haters:
Today I found myself just as disappointed. The imam was a young Desi/Pakistani/Indian American man. He opened the khutba recalling the beautiful story of Salman al-Farisi, one of the famous companions of the Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him). It’s a remarkable story about personal growth, endurance, and soul-searching– basically, a gold mine of lessons and takeaways. But we as a collective audience were not ushered into this gold mine of lessons and takeaways.
Let me use the NBA for a moment to help describe what happened here. One of my favorite articles on Phil Jackson’s recent employment by the New York Knicks discussed the mismanagement of the franchise, and how its ownership ditches real, organic, proven championship-contender building methods for gaudy, knee-jerky, and irrational decisions. (Examples: throwing away a pretty solid young core to sign Carmelo Anthony; inking Amare Stoudemire, a big man with a history of knee injuries to a $100 million, 5 year max deal; signing Chris Smith, JR Smith’s scrub brother, just to convince JR, one of the least trustworthy, most lazy, and most on-and-off players in the league, to re-sign; picking up Andrea Bargnani.) The author depicts this strategy as akin to walking thirstily in the desert and being presented with the option to drink either champagne or water. Or better yet: you’re allowed to have both! But the Knicks opt for the champagne (max contracts and hiring a septuagenarian with no front-office experience to magically turn things around), and open the bottle of water and spill it all on the ground because “f*** the water.”
These khutbas feel just like that. We ditch real critical thinking, soul searching, spirituality, and raw openness for cliche, feel-good chest-thumping about how great Islam is and how being a good Muslim will lead to converting everyone around us. Because f*** growth. Here we are with the brilliant, borderline tear-jerking story about this amazing historic figure (and to the imam’s credit, he was a solid storyteller). The speaker DID touch a bit on what he thought were some morals of the story. But he devoted the longer, more memorable parts of his sermon to talking about how by us trying to do good things and being better Muslims, people will notice us more and iA people might ask for a copy of the Quran and iA maybe they’ll get interested so that iA they can make an awkward shahadah in front of a convention hall audience, taraweeh crowd, or, as is the case 98% of the year, in front of the few, the proud, the elderly who do in fact show up to the mosque during Asr time. (And iA there’s a solid convert/revert support system and an inclusive, not-single-ethnically-dominated community to incorporate them! mA)
Instead of talking about how it is inherently GOOD to take care of one’s environment, or how it is inherently GOOD to take care of oneself– to not lie, cheat, backbite, or steal, we talk about appearances or the random anecdote “where someone somewhere at Disneyworld once saw me and Brian smile and we explained that it’s Sunnah and I gave him a run down on maqasid as-sharia while we were on Magic Mountain.” For a community that talks so much about what we as Muslims look like, it is amazing that our PR and representation in the mainstream media is as bad as it is today. We could really use some work on the inside. That’s what’s missing– that’s what Salman al-Farisi travelled across the Middle East to find: salvation, purification of the heart, inner-peace, purpose. That’s what I’m looking for when I get myself to go to Friday prayer– something that I don’t want to take for granted or brush aside. I’m really trying.
I know that this is a multi-layered problem that touches on the fact that most of the imams and boards at these mosques or centers are mainly immigrants probably trying to appeal to an immigrant crowd or a community that still has a displaced, immigrant/otherness mentality. God bless the immigrant generation for building our institutions and keeping them afloat. But they’re still pretty much foreign institutions. That’s why you still see the community trying to build mosques that resemble Andalusian or Umayyad-era architecture. Like, guys, we’re in Illinois: we should be building Frank Lloyd Wright prairie-house style mosques with open, green, energy efficient, minimalistic, woody spaces. That’s why you could listen to most of these khutbas and imagine those same khutbas being presented in Egypt or Pakistan (and LOL you probably wouldn’t have to change the language either). They’re not American products reflecting an owned, empowered identity or a sense of rootedness or stewardship in the local city and community. They’re political rallies or “seasonal” sermons, and we’ve all heard them– the same ones– many, many times.
Our products only reflect our nostalgia, a word which in and of itself reflects something very much detached from the present reality. And when we keep hiring good-hearted people simply because they have a degree from Al-Azhar and we keep them on board because they give you a weekly emotional tirade about Syria and Burma and “may Allah destroy our enemies and whatnot,” when we keep running into the same problems but point to Islamophobia as the cause and then pine about the omnipotent “youth” and how they are somehow going to figure everything out on their own and lead our “ummah” one day (should the elders ever give us the authority and time of day), this is what comes to mind:
Thank you Chloe. HAVE A GOOD WEEKEND.
Latest reads regarding Muslim Americana:
It’s a pleasure to share these two pieces by my friends–
Layla Shaikley wrote for The Atlantic about “The Surprising Lessons of the ‘Muslim Hipsters’ Backlash.”
Laila Alawa had a piece in the Islamic Monthly titled “Let’s Stop Talking About Being Muslim In America.“
I’m taking a leaf out of Zach Lowe (one of my favorite sports writers)’s book and starting my blog off with some things I “like” and “don’t” like from this past week. That might also be a bit of me repping my city and its favorite son, Chief Keef. There’s a lot of stuff he doesn’t like. Before we do that, let me just say this: thanks for reading. I look forward to a consistent, fruitful, and perhaps occasionally interesting tenure here for the Shamrock Sheikh blog. Stick around, and maybe we’ll learn something from one another. Or not.
What am I up to at this moment? It’s Thursday night and it’s that time when you’re starting to recover from a front-loaded work week. Midterms just went by and Spring Break starts tomorrow evening. I bade farewell to my younger brother, Mahdi, who is leaving tonight on his high school senior year trip to perform ‘umrah (mini-pilgrimage) in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It’s an odd feeling because this would be the first time in memory that I’m in the position of watching him leave. In the past it’s always been me leaving to Washington, D.C. for internships or to Champaign, IL. where my college campus is. This is the sort of experience that throws off one’s internal train of thought, because it’s entirely new. The more we grow, the more we approach the future, the more we begin to face the unknown. Maybe I sound like an old man (and that’s sort of what I’ve always been), but I know that Mahdi traveling alone, graduating high school, going to college, and so on are all wedges that make this fortress called the “present” feel like its collapsing, bit by bit. And that’s not a bad thing at all. It just means we’re growing up and hopefully moving onwards to bigger and better things. And when we get the chance to spend time together and do the things he and I always used to do together– be it going to pancake houses, playing basketball, or figuring out “what we’re going to do” or “what movie we’re going to watch” for 3 hours– those are the times that will mean the world to both of us. Safe travels Mahdi!
So here are some observations I made this week. I DON’T LIKE: why the hell do we keep throwing the term “neo-con” around so easily? I’m referring to this piece by Max Blumenthal and Rania Khalek, titled “How Cold War-Hungry Neo-Cons Stage Managed RT Anchor Liz Wahl’s Resignation.” It’s a fascinating read if your worldview on global affairs is on par with that of a college freshman who watched too many Alex Jones and Illuminati/9-11 Truther videos on YouTube.
By all means, give it a read. As the authors continue to tout in subsequent Twitter wars, they seemingly have a thorough collection of sources to back up their assertion that former Russia Today anchor Liz Wahl’s resignation from the network is all a part of a neo-conservative conspiracy to reignite the Cold War. This article launched a series of rebuttals on Twitter and elsewhere between the authors and several of the journalists and pundits brought under scrutiny by Blumenthal and Khalek. Look it all up on Twitter– follow Buzzfeed’s Rosie Gray or the Daily Beast’s Eli Lake to see the debate. Or, for your sanity– don’t follow the debate. This one tweet sums up how some people just never get tired of reliving their middle school days:
My favorite response came from David Weigel from Slate.com, who said that the authors were making much more of Wahl’s resignation than there actual was. This wouldn’t be the first time Blumenthal tried to be our journalist-and-savior. Just a few months ago, Blumenthal tried to smear Mouaz Moustafa, the executive director of the Syrian Emergency Task Force (SETF), a group I once worked for, which advocates for Syrian human rights as well as a more engaged U.S. Syria policy. Max’s hypothesis revolved around a series of meetings and speaking engagements that Mouaz participated in at various D.C. think tanks and organizations. And because many of these influential think tanks are backed by neo-cons and pro-Israel donors, and because Mouaz helped facilitate Senator John McCain’s visit to liberated northern Syria, Max posited that Mouaz was in the pocket of these lobbies and was an agent of U.S. imperialism in the Middle East.
Or something like that…. Max did everything but talk to Mouaz himself– a man who was born a Palestinian refugee and who as accessible as people in D.C. get. It’s funny: God forbid anyone tries to do something, I don’t know… pragmatic, relevant, and useful with their time in Washington to boost support for increased humanitarian aid to Syrian children and bring about a political solution to the now-regionalized Syrian civil war by providing a level playing field and forcing Assad to the negotiation table (remember: it was the threat of force that bolstered our diplomatic “breakthrough” in getting Assad to surrender his chemical weapons). I’m not saying that Blumenthal is off the mark here with the Wahl story. I don’t have access to his “sources” and puzzle pieces. But Max has a history of below the belt moves against people like Mouaz (whose foot alone quite frankly has done more for human rights than Max ever has/will). So there. It makes it hard for me to take writers like him seriously.
Honestly, what I’m learning is that there is a “scotomization”, where people see what they want to see. Look at universal healthcare, for example. Some people see a much-needed reform. Others see big government. Obviously, SOMEBODY has their head up their asses. I guess democracy allows us to sort of not have to inform people of their predicament.
Foreign policy is similar. I don’t look for a world where the United States dominates the international arena and acts as the global police (cliche, I know). I’m sure Max is on the same page as me on that matter. But it’s funny that people like Max and most “progressives” have such a U.S.-centric view that same world. To them, anything that the U.S. does– development, diplomacy, etc– is imperialism. If they see Haim Saban or John McCain or CFR or Kagan or any other name that doesn’t suit their one-dimensional worldview, they cry “neo-con” and attempt to smear them and everything they support by putting them in that camp. If Russia supports and covers up mass-slaughter in Syria, they’ll just say “oh but look with the U.S. did here, here, and here! The hypocrisy!” Jeez. Can’t someone, I don’t know, call out and criticize both U.S. (as is my right as a loyal citizen) AND Russia transgressions and work to support reasonable policy suggestions and solutions for BOTH? Can we try that? Maybe it’s too hard for some people to see all the way from those ivory towers, high horses, and computer screens. But grow a pair and get to work– and you’ll find that there are people willing to work with you and that there’s a process— an imperfect one– to finding progress. One damn centimeter at a time.
The viewership of course is the perfect flock of sheep. I guarantee that 99% of them haven’t seen what Beltway life and culture and operations look like and what it takes to get anything done in that town. You don’t have to agree with 100% of someone else’s views to find mutual interest in working with one another, even for a very short period of time. And you don’t have to sell out your people or principles to do so. For some people, dirt and the axes they have to grind are far more important than human lives, human dignity, and having a world where people can be privileged enough to be keyboard commandos and tear people who try to do good work, like Mouaz, down and throw them into the neo-con pile.
The most ironic part of all this is that for people like Khalek and Blumenthal who judge people like Mouaz and the broader Syrian American community (and many actual Syrians in Syria, HELLO) for supporting U.S. intervention, they ignore that the Arabs who have been fighting for dignity and social justice for a while– namely the Palestinian community– as well as the established Arab names in academia, organizations (like Arab American Institute, ADC, etc), and the blogosphere, for the most part left the Syrians hanging! It would have been great to have THEIR fraternity and support in a small town like D.C. I’m sure that, since they’ve been there for a while now, that they have the resources and connections to help us land a few meetings here and there or something. (What have they been doing there for the past 10 years, anyways? A topic for further exploration should be “do Arab Americans have their s**t together? Are they as a collective body even relevant?”) Sure, a big chunk of that community (Asad Abu Khalil, Ali Abunimah, etc.) started criticizing the Assad regime when the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in Syria started becoming besieged, but most of them will probably never tell you that they want Assad to step down (if they even mention Syria at all in the first place. Scroll through their Twitter accounts and you’ll see the only time suffering Syria brought up is when U.S. military action is in question), or that they renounce support for Hezbollah or Iran which have played integral roles in Assad’s killing machine. Because it’s all about the muqawama, the fantasy of resistance. The resistance was in power for more than 40 years, guys. They still weren’t able to get the Golan Heights back. To hell with your resistance, if it means you throw 100,000+ Syrians under the bus to burn. And to hell to any notion that these people do what they do for social justice and global progress. It’s about ego, ideology, and sometimes the groupies (the crude way I’ll describe the college students who flock to them or “get off” whenever they say something clever about U.S. hypocrisy). I’ll be the first to call out hypocrisy when my country is involved because it’s my country. And that’s the difference. I’m empowered. I’m not going to continue to play victim and appeal to the stubborn ideological crowds. I’m more interested in real work.
As the Arabic saying goes, “the caravan keeps moving, while the dogs keep barking.”
Some people have actual ideas, facts, history, and policy suggestions to discuss. Here’s something I DO LIKE:
I wish we could keep the conversation at this level. We agree, disagree, debate, and watch as history unfolds. Someone will be totally wrong, and we can let them know “I told you so” on Twitter when it’s all said and done. That’s what it’s all about, guys. We should not be about creating an echo chamber where no one takes us seriously. Seriously. Let’s keep the conversation where it matters, and not keep digging for what’s probably not even there (not to say that Blumenthal and Khalek are 100% wrong about Wahl, of course. I didn’t see Wahl denouncing the Kremlin’s covering up of Putin’s support for Assad. But you get my point.)
One more thing that I DO LIKE: My #SeinfeldInArabia tweets. Come on fellas. I was on a roll this week. It might not have been conducive to a successful midterm exam week, but hey, perhaps a future in comedy/writing is a solid Plan B:
Even Marc Lynch liked them:
Sarah was on the verge of tears:
We’ve all been there, guys.