Monday, August 28, 2006

African-Americans, Arab-Americans & Latino-Americans in the same proverbial 'boat'


Marking the one year anniversary of the Hurricane Katrina disaster, thoughts of the US media referring to African-Americans as “refugees” to Barbara Bush’s infamous statement that the evacuees who were stranded in the Houston Astrodome were in better condition, renewed the sense to many that African-Americans are still viewed as 2nd class citizens or three-fifths human by America’s elite. And as our nation witnessed images of primarily African-American citizens languishing on the tops of homes and begging to be rescued, the Bush administration provided a lack luster, delayed evacuation response.

On Monday, August 28, Mr. Bush visited Biloxi, Mississippi where he spoke to an “American” crowd, commending them for rebuilding their neighborhoods “the old fashion way.” Fortunately for the people who he addressed, they had received federal monies and settled insurance claims. His praise for those who rebuilt their homes “the old fashion way” was a not so subtle smack in the face of the citizens of New Orleans, who were in a weaker economic condition to begin with and have continued to be neglected by the Federal government as well as being jerked by insurance companies who refuse to honor insurance claims. I’m sure that rap star Kayne West would echo his statements of last year that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”

Approximately one month ago, Arab-Americans went through a similar situation of feeling abandoned by the Bush administration. While the Israeli government launched an extensive bombing campaign on Lebanon’s civilian infrastructure including homes and schools, our State Department’s initial concerns had nothing to do with the lives of the Lebanese civilians and Arab-Americans. Furthermore, less than 700 of the 25,000 American citizens stranded in Lebanon were rescued in one week after the violence began even though the French and the Germans had evacuated all of their citizens who wanted to depart within a few days after the fighting. Does not the US have the world’s most powerful and logistically sophisticated military?

Go to the State Department’s initial statements in their daily press briefings to see what were their top priorities and how they did not articulate a meaningful evacuation plan for US citizens:
7/12/06- http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2006/68924.htm
7/13/06- http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2006/68960.htm
7/17/06- http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2006/69077.htm

See CAIR-MI’s reaction to Arab-Americans being treated like second class citizens and being slighted at the US embassy in Beirut one week after the conflict began on Lebanon’s border:
http://www1.wxyz.com/wxyz/nw_local_news/article/0,2132,WXYZ_15924_4855079,00.html
http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/07/31/news/refuge.php

In this post 9/11 era, Arab-Americans have been subjected to similar treatment that African-Americans and more recently Latino-Americans have endured for decades. The “Katrina-like” evacuation of American citizens in Lebanon compounds this feeling for America’s “new negroes” - Arab-Americans - in conjunction with the intense racial profiling at borders and airports, visits at home and at work by the FBI, and neighborhood sweeps by ICE (Immigration & Customs Enforcement). “Driving While Black,” “Flying While Muslim,” and “Buying While Arab” are now the order of the day.

If Arab-Americans, African-Americans, and Latino-Americans cannot see their collective interests in organizing against the current neo-conservative/xenophobic wave that is drowning America, all three may drown together.

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