But ADC marches on, undeterred, determined to secure the “victim” imprimatur from the government, arguing without much in the way of evidence that the “ubiquitous demonizing of Arab-Americans has undermined this community’s progress in American society.”
ADC’s petition is an ill-conceived document that takes the reader on a winding, politically correct journey through fantasyland. (Read the petition which is available here.) The document is incoherent and contradictory, presenting self-serving (and often very old) anecdotal evidence that proves, at most, that there have been isolated incidents of racial discrimination against Arab-Americans. It fails to produce proof of widespread, generalized discrimination against ADC’s constituency because none exists.
The petition treats counter-terrorism measures enacted by the federal government as racist because they supposedly “had a disparate impact on the Arab-American community.” Of course, all 19 hijackers who took over commercial U.S. airplanes on September 11, 2001, were Muslim Arabs. Of the 19, 15 hailed from Saudi Arabia. The rest came from Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. After 9/11 it’s hard to fault government officials at airports for carefully scrutinizing people of Arab ancestry. (In any event, those days are long gone, having given way to annoying body scans and pat downs of all travelers, including 90-year grandmas in wheelchairs.)
And even though two-thirds of Arab-Americans are Christians, and just one-quarter are Muslim, ADC argues that non-Muslim Arab-Americans nevertheless suffer because Americans are afflicted by a make-believe mental illness called Islamophobia that makes them commit so-called hate crimes. “[M]any Americans still assume all Arab-Americans are Muslims and apply their Islamophobia to all Arab-Americans, Muslim and non-Muslim alike” (page 32).
Kazam rips that claim to shreds:
[I]f we are to use hate crimes as a proxy for “disadvantage,” then Jews would have to be the considered the most disadvantaged group in the country. Despite a significant uptick in “anti-Islamic” incidents in 2010, Jews remain the faith group most likely to be targeted. The nearly 900 “anti-Jewish” incidents in 2010 account for a full two-thirds of hate crimes linked to religion: nearly six times the number of anti-Islamic incidents, despite the fact that Jewish Americans outnumber Muslim Americans by a factor of only two and a half.
To ADC, rational responses to terrorism based on suspects’ common characteristics, including tightened port-of-entry controls, the creation of “no-fly” lists, and longer-than-usual questioning by immigration officials, were all examples of invidious racial discrimination.
One passage in the petition about small businesses stands out as particularly kooky.
At page 29, ADC argues that the very existence of Arab-American businesses is proof in and of itself of discrimination. “A large percentage of Arab-American workers are small business owners, which is convincing evidence of the discrimination against Arab-Americans.” Huh? It’s not at all clear how the ADC came up with this formulation.
The petition describes Arab-Americans at page 30 as “a well-educated demographic,” but then downgrades them on the next page to being “a relatively well-educated demographic” that “suffers from educational disadvantages as a result of discrimination and prejudice.” On page 34, the petition states that “government anti-terrorism policies” are discriminatory and this has something to do with the supposed fact that Arab-Americans are “under-educated.”
Obviously, the petition is loaded with many ridiculous assertions, Kazam argues. Arab-Americans enjoy a mean individual income that is 27 percent above what Americans typically earn. Their median household income weighs in at $59,000, which is more than 10 percent higher than the national average. Almost half of Arab-Americans hold a college degree and they are two times as likely as a typical U.S. resident to have earned a Ph.D. As Kazam notes, the American Arab Chamber of Commerce acknowledges on its website that “large business ownership” and “active political participation” are both “testimony to the power and development of Arab Americans today.”
There’s no question that Arab-Americans are immeasurably better off than residents of Arab countries.
Only in America.
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